This intimate display focusing on the work of Pierre-Paul Prud’hon reveals an artist who created drawings that are both illuminating and beautiful to look at – even if this display doesn’t quite do the extent of his career justice.

056 Focusing mainly on his life studies, this concise and intimate display of work feels like more of an introduction to Prud’hon’s work as opposed to an extensive exhibition covering his career more fully.

But on the plus side it does visitors to concentrate properly on the romantic nature of the works that have been selected for the exhibition, each piece flowing easily to the next and holding the viewer’s attention with ease.

Pieces such as his Female Nude (1810-20) and sketches of the Empress of Josephine Bonaparte are filled with character and life that you really feel that you are looking at a person rather than a drawing (it might be silly to say but that is exactly how I felt).

Another element about the pictures that I noted was the way in which the drawings had a glow and mysterious quality about them – drawing the viewer’s eye to all of the details of the subject. They have been cleverly constructed and are extremely focused, despite the fact that Prud’hon created them not for the public to view but rather his own personal and private enjoyment.

This then leads to the idea that we are extremely privileged to see these drawings so intimately – even if visitors still leave feeling that they don’t have a proper understanding of the artist and the way in which he worked.

However, it is still a wonderful display and will delight those already familiar with his work and any up and coming artists. These are some of the finest drawings that I have ever seen displayed in this way before.

Pierre-Paul Prud’hon: Napoleon’s Draughtsman is at the Dulwich Picture Gallery until 15th November. 

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