Charles Le Brun, Head of a Soldier in the Battle against Darius, around 1600

This sketch was donated to the Worcester City Fine Art Collection by Richard Cadbury who was son of Cadbury’s chocolate founder John Cadbury and took over the company with his brother, George. The drawing is one of the oldest works in the collection and is usually kept in storage as chalk drawings are extremely sensitive and fade if exposed to too much light.

Charles Le Brun (1619 –1690) was court painter to Louis XIV of France and was famed for painting large altarpieces and battle scenes, as well as decorating the ornate palace of Versailles near Paris. It’s possible that this drawing was made as preparatory sketch for a background figure in The Family of Darius before Alexander, part of the Wars of Alexander The Great series which hangs in the palace of Versailles.

The painting depicts Alexander The Great offering mercy to the mother of King Darius III of Persia after he fled, leaving his family behind following Battle of Issus (333 BC) in modern day Turkey. At the later The Battle of Gaugamela (1st October 331 BCE) in Northern Iraq Alexander’s forces defeated Darius making Alexander King of all Asia.

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