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Creator Name: Prud'hon, Pierre-Paul
Creator Nationality: French
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: 1758 - 1823
Biography: Pierre-Paul Prud'hon studied at the Dijon School of Art under François Devosge (1732-1811), founder and director of one of the most prominent art schools in France. In 1776 Prud'hon met the Baron de Joursanvault, a follower of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and an art lover, who became his first patron. At the age of twenty-two Prud'hon left for Paris, where he attended the Académie Royale and was introduced to Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805) and Jean-Georges Wille (1715-1808), an important engraver and collector. Soon after he returned to Dijon in 1784, he won the Prix de Rome and left for Italy, where he would spend four decisive years. He studied the works of Raphael (1483-1520), Leonardo da Vinci (1452--1519), and Correggio (ca. 1489/94-1534) as well as antique sculptures. He was influenced by the artists Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779), Antonio Canova (1757-1822), and Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807) rather than his own countrymen, the pupils of David (q.v.). When he returned to Paris in 1788, Prud'hon endorsed the revolutionary ideals. He attended the meetings of David's Club des Arts and made drawings with political overtones that were to be engraved. After Robespierre's execution, Prud'hon was forced to live in exile in the Franche-Comté (1794-96), where he painted several portraits and made book illustrations. Upon his return to Paris he was elected to the Institut de France and received private and public commissions for decorative projects, including, for example, the ceilings in the Greek sculpture rooms of the Louvre and designs for the celebrations of the emperor's coronation and his marriage to Marie-Louise of Austria. During the First Empire (1805-15) he became equally respected for his imperial portraits and was appointed drawing instructor of the new empress. During the Bourbon restoration (1815-23) he still received several public commissions, even though he did not sympathize with the regime. In 1802 Prud'hon's wife had to be institutionalized, leaving him to care for their five children. He would be supported in this task by his pupil, Constance Mayer (1774-1821), who not only became his mistress but also his first artistic collaborator. (Prud'hon often made the preparatory drawings for her paintings.) His last years were plagued with many problems, and Mayer's suicide in 1821 affected him tremendously. He would survive her only briefly, dying two years later in 1823.
Creator Birth Place: Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, 4 April 1758
Creator Death Place: Paris, 16 February 1823
Creator Name-CRT: Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
Title: Mme. Dufresne
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1811
Creation End Date: 1821
Creation Date: c. 1816
Object Type: Paintings
Classification Term: Painting
Materials and Techniques: oil on paper mounted on fabric
Dimensions: Framed: 34.5cm x 27cm x 5cm, Unframed: 23.8cm x 17.5cm
Inscriptions: Inscription on face of frame: prud'hon. portrait de mme dufresne
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1964.292
Credit Line: Severance and Greta Millikin Collection
Provenance: Atelier Prud'hon. Collection Boisfremont (pupil and friend of the artist). Paris sale, M. de Boisfremont fils, Drouot, 9 April 1870 (lot 8), Esquisse peinte pour servir à un portrait en pied de Mme D***, ff 190 (price according to annotated catalogue; according to Goncourt 1876, sold for ff 310). M. de Norzy until 1873. M. Jeanne-Deslandes, 1874. Anonymous sale, Paris, 24 April 1886 (52), Portrait de Mme Dufresne, représentée dans un parc, ff 380. Collection Henri Rochefort. Collection Paul-Arthur Chéramy. His sale, Paris, Galerie Petit, 5-7 May 1908 (lot 95), Jeune femme assise dans un parc, bought in. Paul-Arthur Chéramy estate sale, Paris, Drouot, 14-16 April 1913 (lot 391), Jeune femme assise dans un parc, D. David-Weill, Paris. Irwin Laughlin, Washington, D.C. His sale, London, Sotheby's, 10 June 1959 (lot 123, repr.), £300 to Betts. Clifford Duits, London. Sold in 1963 to Mr. and Mrs. Severance A. Millikin, Cleveland. Given to the CMA in 1964.
Context: The artist made this sketch in preparation for a full-length portrait of Madame Dufresne that is now lost. Prud'hon showed the sitter-probably the wife of an art dealer-in a landscape where she is seated in a relaxed pose with her legs crossed. According to an early auction record, the composition is based upon one of several sketches Prud'hon made for a portrait of Empress Josephine (1763-1814). The empress probably rejected the pose as too casual. Prud'hon's portraits show his skill in capturing emotions, especially melancholy. This is true of the Cleveland portrait; despite its rough surface, we sense the sitter's gentle demeanor and slightly wistful expression.In 1789 Prud'hon was awarded the Prix de Rome, a scholarship that allowed especially gifted French art students the chance to study in Rome. While in Italy, Prud'hon was deeply influenced not only by ancient Roman art but also by the lively, inter-national Neoclassical movement that was centered there. After his return to France, the artist became very popular with Napoleon, painting portraits of the emperor and his entourage and acting as Empress Josephine's drawing instructor.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1964.292
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art
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