The familiar names--such as David, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
and Anne-Louis Girodet--feature here as foils for understanding the efforts of secondtier, sometimes anonymous artists, whose canvases have been tracked down in provincial museums and private collections.
Which is why the publishers of this book should not have reproduced the magnificently colorful paintings by Prud'hon
, David, Vigee-Lebrun, and Gillray in boring black-and-white throughout.
A great admirer of Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
and Antonio Canova, Sommariva had a taste for elegant Neoclassicism and the Anacreontic sensuality of the pre-Revolutionary days.
Highlights of the exhibition include paintings by American masters as Rembrandt Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Joshua Johnson (an American freedman) and Gilbert Stuart and French artists including Jacques-Louis David, Baron Antoine-Jean Gros, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
and Antonio Canova.
The older medium of black chalk is particularly well illustrated by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
, even though he employs this classic material to evoke an enigmatic and dreamlike world.
1) (The exhibition's fully illustrated catalogue, with complete entries for each work, is not just a record of the show, but a useful summary of Prud'hon scholarship, with an exhaustive chronology.
In his most ambitious efforts, Prud'hon makes it clear that his conception of the figure is always a filtered version of the Neoclassical belief in the intrinsic superiority of antique prototypes, but his themes often echo the earlier eighteenth century's delight in images of dalliance and pleasure.
Today, Prud'hon is hardly a household word -- the show at the Metropolitan, seen last year in Paris, is the first retrospective of his work in the U.
He was Josephine's favorite painter -- he drew and painted her portrait several times -- but after Napoleon divorced her and remarried, certain works by Prud'hon failed to be exhibited at the Salon because they were closely associated with Josephine, and at least one important commissioned work was never realized at the scale at which it was originally conceived.
In consequence, a ravishing Manet in red chalk and three magnificent Conte crayon Seurats--including the exhibition's cover girl --share the stage with a superlative group of drawings by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
, an artist of real merit whose appeal will nevertheless always be more selectively understood.
Diana Imploring Jupiter not to Make Her Submit to Hymen, by Pierre Paul Prud'hon
Highlights include A rural cottage with figures seated at a table beneath a trellis by Canaletto and A standing male nude with both arms raised by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
, both exhibited by Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd.