Justice is vengeance a crime

Pierre Paul Prud'hon is considered a prime example of early French romanticism. He was born as the seventh and last child of a master tailor. At the age of 16 he studied with the painter and sculptor Francois Devosge. After completing his studies, he moved to Paris, where he initially worked for an engraver and made friends with the Baron von Joursanvault, who became his patron. He also made friends with the “incorruptible”, the politician and revolutionary Maximilien de Robespierre. Despite important friendships and the care of some cardinals, Prud'hon plunges into loneliness and melancholy. He has a good reputation and makes allegorical paintings, but his ties to Robespierre forced him to leave the French capital. He now lives in the Free County of Burgundy, where he does portraits and illustrations for the printer owner Pierre Didot. After a few years he moved back to Paris and his career took off again.

In the Louvre, Prud'hon was given a studio in which he would paint “La sagesse et la vérité descendant sur la terre” for a year, as well as some of the ceilings of the Louvre . The government assigns him a studio in the Sorbonne, where his wife Jeanne, whom he married when he was 19, comes looking for him. To escape her, he asks the museum director for protection. In 1808 he created his work “La justice et la vengeance divine poursuivant le crime” (Ger. Justice and divine vengeance pursue crime). In the same year he is also made a Knight of the Legion of Honor and can break with his grumpy wife once and for all. He soon bonded again with his student and painter of neoclassicism Constance Mayer. Pierre is commissioned to paint a portrait of the Empress and wife of Napoleon, Joséphine de Beauharnais, which can still be viewed in the Louvre today. He also paints the little "Roi de Rome" (Eng. King of Rome). In 1816 he was elected a member of the Academy of Fine Arts, where he took over the armchair in the painting section from François-André Vincent.

A few years later, his depressed wife commits suicide, and Prud'hon finishes her last work “Une famille malheureuse” (English: an unhappy family) full of pain and exhibits it. He himself dies soon after and is buried in Paris.

Many renowned artists admire Prud'hon for his "clair-obscur", the light and dark painting, and for his subtle realism. His admirers include Balzac, Baudelaire, Delacroix and many more. © master prints

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