This year’s Early Modern Research Centre colloquium at the University of Reading is on the culture of competition in Europe’s Academies. I will be giving a paper on the culture of institutional competition that drove artistic production in 17th-century Paris (a short abstract follows below), which is drawn from my book, Académie Royale: A History in Portraits (due out next year).
Le Brun vs Mignard / Academy vs Guild
My paper explores the culture of institutional competition in seventeenth-century Paris through a case study of a bitter personal rivalry between two artists: Charles Le Brun, director of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, and Pierre Mignard, head of the Maîtrise or city guild of artists. Through a close study of the portraits painted by and of these two great figureheads, I argue that Le Brun and Mignard’s antagonism not only spurred productive competition between the two schools, but also became a driving personal motivation as each artist came to define himself through and against the other.