The dignified composition of this painting eloquently demonstrates the young French artist's successful attempt at mastering the classical qualities of art he had seen in Rome during a stay there from 1642 until 1645. This large altarpiece was painted for the chapel of the Hôtel-Dieu, a hospital in Lyons, where Le Brun stopped on his way back to Paris. The hieratic figures are placed conventionally in front of architecture. The depiction of emotion is replaced by an elegant balance of statuesque figures depicted with notes of vigorous realism.
Le Brun's influence and aesthetic decisions dominated the arts under Louis XIV's rule due to his influential position as painter to the king, director of the French Academy, and director of the Gobelins manufactory.
Artist Charles Le Brun, French, 1619-1690
  • The Presentation of Christ in the Temple
Date 1645
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 105 1/8 × 76 1/2 inches (267 × 194.3 cm)
Overall (stretcher): 107 × 78 7/8 inches (271.8 × 200.3 cm)
Framed: 122 × 92 7/8 × 4 1/2 inches, 230 pounds (309.9 × 235.9 × 11.4 cm, 104.3 kg)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, contribution of Mr. and Mrs. Allan Shelden III in memory of Allan Shelden IV
Accession Number 73.1
Department European Painting
On View European: Poussin, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed and dated, lower left: C. Le Brun Par. Fec. Romae anno 1645
Collection Etienne Cochardet [1597-1661, merchant clothier and treasurer of merchant-clothiers' guild in Lyons] (Lyons, France);
1647, sold to Chapel of the Hôtel-Dieu (Lyons, France);
Chapel of the Chateau de Fléchères, Collection Count Olivier de La Ferrière (Fareins, Ain, France);
by descent to the inheritors of Count de La Ferrière;
sold to (Galerie Heim, Paris, France);
1973-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Clapasson, André. Histoire et Description de la Ville de Lyon. Lyon, 1761, p. 53. [describing the painting while in church of the Hôtel-Dieu in Lyons, France]

Jouin, Henry. Charles le Brun et les Arts sous Louis XIV. Paris, 1889, p. 470. [citing engraving by Benoît Ier Audran]

French Paintings & Sculptures of the 17th Century (Part I). Exh. cat., Heim Gallery. London, 1968, p. 16, cat. 31 (ill.).

Butler, Joseph T. "Le Brun Altarpiece for Detroit." Connoisseur 183, no. 736 (June 1973): p. 136 (ill.).

Cummings, Frederick J. "Curatorial and Museum Department Reports." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 52, no. 1 (1973): 8–10, pp. 8–9 (ill.).

"Musées." Connaissance des Arts 255 (May 1973): p. 11 (ill.).

"New Acquisition for Detroit." Apollo 97, no. 135 (May 1973): p. 540 (ill.).

Cuzin, Jean-Pierre and Pierre Rosenberg. "A Le Brun at Ponce." Burlington Magazine 116, no. 850 (January 1974): 4–7, p. 4, note 1.

Chomer, Gilles. "'The Purification of the Virgin' by Charles Le Brun: A Few Notes." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 55, no. 4 (1977): 183–189, pp. 183–189 (ill.). [as "The Purification of the Virgin"]

Chomer, Gilles. "Charles Le Brun avant 1646: Contribution aux Problemes de sa Formation et de ses Oeuvres de Jeunesse." Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Francais (1977): 93–106, p. 101–102 (ill.). [as "La Purification de la Vierge"]

Cummings, Frederick J., ed. Selected Works from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1979, p. 105, no. 76 (ill.). [as "Purification of the Virgin"]

Rosenberg, Pierre. France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-Century French Paintings in American Collections. Exh. cat., Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 1982, p. 355, no. 6 (ill.). [not in the exhibition; as "The Purification"]

Henshaw, Julia, ed. A Visitor's Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1995, p. 204 (ill.). [as "The Purification of the Virgin"]