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Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (1758-1823) was a painter and decorator who enjoyed considerable success before withdrawing into collaboration with Constance Mayer. He did less and less painting of his own but spent a great deal of time on what was usually considered student practice -- chalk studies of nudes. Prud'hon was a masterly draftsman, and the drawings (académies) reproduced in this generously illustrated book are impressive. They are also a bit strange. The female nudes are graceful nymphs doing nothing in particular. The male nudes, in contrast, are usually actively posed and frequently display girlishly pretty heads incongruously attached to heavily muscled adult bodies. Mr. Elderfield's text never truly accounts for this sexual disparity, but he makes a brave attempt at it, and the drawings can easily and happily be enjoyed for their own sake.



The Atlantic Monthly; January 1997; Brief Reviews; Volume 279, No. 1; pages 96-98.



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