French painter. One of the minor Romantic artists, opposed to the neoclassicism of Jacques-Louis David, he is best known for his portraits and his mythological and allegorical subjects, such as Love and Friendship (c. 1793; Minneapolis Institute of Arts). He was patronized by Napoleon.
After winning the Prix de Rome 1784, Prud'hon visited Italy but, unlike his contemporary David, he was unaffected by the neoclassical vogue. His style, indebted to the Italian painter Correggio, is an early expression of Romanticism.
Notable works are his portrait of the Empress Josephine at Malmaison 1805 (Louvre, Paris); Madame Anthony and her Children 1796 (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon); Psyche Transported by the Zephyrs 1808 (Louvre); and Justice and Divine Vengeance pursuing Crime 1808, commissioned for the hall of the criminal court in the Palais de Justice, and now in the Louvre.
In classical subjects he was voluptuous rather than sculptural, this causing David to describe him as the ‘Boucher of our time’. He was patronized by the imperial family (and designed the cradle of the king of Rome), but his life was a sad one, an early and unfortunate marriage causing him years of misery, while his attachment to his pupil, Constance Mayer, ended in her suicide.
He trained in the Dijon Academy and in Rome (1784-7), where he was influenced by the works of Correggio and Leonardo da...