Sir Christopher Le Brun PPRA (b. 1951)

Christopher Le Brun is one of the leading British painters of his generation, celebrated internationally since the 1980s, making both figurative and abstract work in media including painting, sculpture, watercolour and print. His works are notable for their layered, complex, scintillating surfaces, which he describes as ‘non-ironic, primary’ responses to the act of painting. Le Brun employs a mastery of touch and colour alongside a profound understanding of art history and a wide range of visual, musical and literary sources to engage with the major existential, aesthetic and formal questions of painting. The idea is to make a painting less fenced or surrounded, but one which feels for its boundaries organically, playing out its appearance in front of you.

Born in Portsmouth in 1951, Christopher Le Brun trained at the Slade and Chelsea Schools of Art, London. In his early career, he was a double prizewinner at the John Moores exhibitions (1978, 1980), also showing in the Venice Biennale (1980) and the ground-breaking exhibition ‘Zeitgeist’ (1982) at the Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin. His recent major exhibitions include ‘A Sense of Sight, Abstract Work 1974-2020’, Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing (2021); ‘Transcendence and Rén Jīan, Su Xinping and Christopher Le Brun’, MOCAUP, Shenzhen (2021); ‘Figure and Play’, albertz benda, New York; ‘Diptychs’, Lisson Gallery, Shanghai (2019); ‘New Painting’, Lisson Gallery, London (2018); ‘Composer’, albertz benda, New York (2017); ‘New Paintings’, Friedman Benda, New York (2014).

Between 1990 and 2003 he served as a trustee of the Tate and subsequently of the National Gallery, a period which saw his involvement in the radical developments of Tate at Bankside, Liverpool and St. Ives as well as the masterplan and re-development of the east wing of the National Gallery. He was also a trustee of the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Royal (formerly Prince’s) Drawing School, which he helped to establish in 2000. In the same year he was elected Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy.

He was elected President of the Royal Academy in December 2011. He was the 26th President since Sir Joshua Reynolds and the youngest to be elected since Lord Leighton in 1878. He stepped down from being President on 10th December 2019.

He was awarded a Knighthood (Knight Bachelor) for services to the Arts in the 2021 New Year Honours.


Royal Academician


Born: 1951 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom

Nationality: British

Elected RA: 12 December 1996

President from: 2011 - 2019

Honorary officer: Eranda Professor of Drawing 2000 - 2002

Gender: Male

Preferred media: Painting, Sculpture, and Printmaking

Works by Sir Christopher Le Brun in the RA Collection

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Works associated with Sir Christopher Le Brun in the RA Collection

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Associated archives

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