Pierre-Paul Prud'hon

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Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
Prud'hon's only known self-portrait, c. 1788–1790
Born(1758-04-04)4 April 1758
Died16 February 1823(1823-02-16) (aged 64)
Paris, France
Known forPainting, drawing
Notable workMadame Georges Anthony and Her Two Sons
MovementNeoclassicism, Romanticism

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (French pronunciation: [pjɛʁ pɔl pʁydɔ̃], 4 April 1758 – 16 February 16, 1823) was a French Romantic painter and draughtsman best known for his allegorical paintings and portraits such as Madame Georges Anthony and Her Two Sons (1796). He painted a portrait of each of Napoleon's two wives.

He was an early influence on Théodore Géricault.


darkly shaded painting of two winged angels chasing man, who runs away from a fallen, naked body
Justice and Divine Vengeance Pursuing Crime, 1808. The darkness and the sprawling naked figure anticipate Théodore Géricault's painting The Raft of the Medusa.[1]

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon was born in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. He received his artistic training in the French provinces and went to Italy when he was twenty-six years old to continue his education. On his return to Paris, he found work decorating some private mansions. His work for wealthy Parisians led him to be held in high esteem at Napoleon's court.

His painting of Josephine portrays her not as an Empress, but as a lovely, attractive woman, which led some to think that he might have been in love with her. After the divorce of Napoleon and Josephine, he was also employed by Napoleon's second wife Marie-Louise.

Prud'hon was at times clearly influenced by Neo-classicism, at other times by Romanticism. He was appreciated by other artists and writers, including Stendhal, Delacroix, Millet and Baudelaire, for his chiaroscuro and convincing realism. He painted Crucifixion (1822) for St. Etienne's Cathedral in Metz; it now hangs in the Louvre.

The young Théodore Géricault had painted copies of work by Prud'hon, whose "thunderously tragic pictures" include his masterpiece, Justice and Divine Vengeance Pursuing Crime, where oppressive darkness and the compositional base of a naked, sprawled corpse obviously anticipate Géricault's painting The Raft of the Medusa.[1]



  1. ^ a b Gayford, Martin. "Distinctive power". The Spectator, November 1, 1997. Retrieved from findarticles.com on January 6, 2008.

Further reading[edit]

General studies

Adapted from a following source: Freitag, Wolfgang M. (1997) [1985]. Art Books: A Basic Bibliography of Monographs on Artists (2nd ed.). New York, London: Garland. p. 327, entries nos. 10041–10049. ISBN 0-8240-3326-4.

Reference works

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