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These bizarre sketches were made by French painter and art theorist Charles Le Brun (1619 – 1690) who was declared by King Louis XIV as "the greatest French artist of all time".

Charles Le Brun was deeply influenced by the work of Descartes's Passions of the Soul (1649), in which the French philosopher weighted his opinion on the theory of human emotions, a subject that was much debated among natural philosophers since the time of Plato. After speaking on various occasions with the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris, on the subject of General Expression and the Expression of Passions, Le Brun presented a lecture to the Academy on physiognomy, in 1671. He illustrated his lecture with a series of striking drawings in which he made analogies between human and animal features. Le Brun’s original lecture is lost but his sketches have survived. There are over 250 such drawings at the Louvre museum today.

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