David Johnston by Prud'hon smThis painting is based off of  a portrait of French industrialist David Johnston, by Pierre Paul Prud’hon from 1808. Shown at the age of nineteen, he would eventually become mayor of Bordeux. Prud’hon was dismissed by  France’s imminent painter, Jacques Louis David and his supporters. Despite this, Prud’hon went on to recieve many notable commissions as a French classicist. He had been awarded time in Italy to study, and was influenced by the work of Leonardo da Vinci and Correggio. This image of David Johnston that I have referenced measures 42″ x 50″ and is done in oil on metal. David Johnston, 1808.

The reserved exterior of his paintings, the graceful lines and modeling of his classical drawings, gave no hint of the tragedies in Prud’hon’s personal life. He was to lose his parents early, lived in poverty during the Revolution, and later separated from his first wife who had succumbed to mental illness. Following this he was to find an new relationship with a woman named Constance Mayer. Despite France’s political upheaval during his lifetime, Prud’hon’s career continued. However, tragedy was to return, and by 1821 Constance was suffering from bouts of depression and committed suicide in his apartment at the Sorbonne. He was to survive her death by little more than a year. Excerpts from the artist’s biography, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

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