Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/13/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Art History

First Advisor

Dorothy Johnson


Attempting to make sense of the oeuvre of Prud’hon in 1876, Edmond de Goncourt in his Catalogue Raisonné de Prud’hon contrasts Prud’hon’s paintings with the predominant art of David and his students. He describes Prud’hon as an isolated romantic artist, full of elegance, going against the virile masculine academic traditions of his day. Goncourt sees in Prud’hon the epitome of an erotic classicism, which he considers unique for his time. I seek to demonstrate that Prud’hon’s embrace of classicism reflects and propels a variety of contexts from the literary, aesthetic, philosophical, and cultural developments of his time.

The significance of poignant upheaval and the political change from the ancien regime through the Revolution and the Empire had a considerable impact on the various moments examined in my dissertation. I use selected examples from his works and those of his contemporaries to serve as case studies to reveal key moments in the development of his oeuvre.

Prud’hon’s oeuvre is vast, but my dissertation will highlight case studies from 1770-1815. I have analyzed central concepts of this period’s aesthetic and philosophical ideals, especially the philosophic treatises by French Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau and Diderot, and by classicists like Winckelmann and Quatremère de Quincy. Prud’hon’s transformations were also clearly impacted by the historical reality of the French Revolution and Empire.


gracieux, Neoclassic Art, Prud'hon, Romantic Art


xvi, 294 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 274-294).


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Copyright © 2017 Michael Traver Ridlen

Available for download on Saturday, July 13, 2019