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Portrait Head of Louis XIV

Image credit: The Henry Barber Trust, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

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This is the earliest known portrait of Louis XIV by Le Brun. The drawing dates from around 1663 when the king was aged 25 and suffering from scarlet fever. Le Brun was particularly interested in how a person’s face could indicate their personality. The king’s features in this drawing suggest that he was a youthful, intelligent and confident leader. Drawn from life, this study was probably used for one of the Gobelins tapestries in a series entitled 'L’ Histoire du Roi' ('History of the King'), which Le Brun worked on between 1662 and 1673.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts



Portrait Head of Louis XIV




black, red & white chalk on paper


H 43.5 x W 35.1 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased, 1970

Work type



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The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands B15 2TS England

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