Pierre Paul Prud'hon and the Genius of Allegory
Thesis DisciplineArt History
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMasters of Arts
Pierre Paul Prud’hon (1758-1823) lived and worked as an artist during the last years of the French Monarchy, the Revolution, the Republic, the Empire and finally the Restoration. He mostly worked with allegory, setting him apart from other artists at the time, such as Jacques Louis David. While Prud’hon was a significant artist in his own time, he is only just being rehabilitated today. In this thesis I trace Prud’hon’s artistic career as an allegorical painter through the different governments, examining thematically his different types of allegories, from the moral to the political. In particular, the context of allegory is examined, including how Prud’hon approaches allegory and criticism and interpretation of his use of allegory. This examination of Prud’hon highlights what was so unusual about Prud’hon’s art – primarily his use, with reasonable success, of allegory. This alone makes it clear that he should be held in higher regard by today’s art historians.