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Language of the Body: Drawings by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon Hardcover – September 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 221 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810935856
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810935853
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 1 x 13 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,145,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A treasure for connoisseurs and scholars, this volume showcases the ravishing chalk studies of male and female nude models made after 1800 by famous French painter Pierre-Paul Prud'hon. Often called "the French Correggio" for his freewheeling mythological and allegorical canvases, Prud'hon (1758-1823) was an unorthodox public artist of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire. The Romantic generation championed his melancholy, mysterious eroticism, which is on full display in these feminized male bodies and idealized female torsos. Chief curator at large for Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art, Elderfield looks at Prud'hon's unhappy life?he separated from his violent, drunken wife after 25 years, gaining custody of his five children when she was committed to an insane asylum?and masterfully analyzes startling works that blur normally separated categories (masculine/feminine, platonic/passionate, cool/ecstatic) in a transgressive fantasy of desire. Gordon is an independent art historian.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Atlantic VINE VOICE on February 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've owned at least one copy of this book for many years (1997). It's by far one of my most cherished art books and unmatched by any other book of drawings I've seen. If you appreciate fine drawings and value truly superior draughtsmanship you'll want to add this to your collection.

In my opinion, you owe it you yourself to purchase (yes, it's extremely expensive today, but keep watching) or find a copy in the library. Prud'hon was a late-18th century French academic that sadly wasn't fully appreciated in his day. He did enjoy success in his later career but some of his contemporaries, including David and Gericault, enjoyed more visible success in the same period.

The highlights of this book are the 57 color plates of Prud'hon's academic figure drawings, or "acadamies" as they are known. These drawings are exemplary models today, and unlike the scribbled messes many 20th century "artists" produce (and deemed acceptable by today's art schools), these drawings are dignified and stunningly beautiful.

Unfortunately, Prud'hon's drawing techniques have been lost and there is no definitive work describing how they were produced. Many of these drawings have unfinished sections and you can see not only the basic structure, but the construction process as well. We also can guess at what he did with the materials that were available at the time, but it would be nice to see the process documented.

Finally I believe this book should be reprinted, but until that time (if ever), try to at least see a copy if you can. For more information on Prud'hon I would also highly recommend the book Pierre-Paul Prud'hon by Sylvain Laveissiere; it's another beautiful - and still available - book illustrating Prud'hon's works, including paintings and drawings.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Russ Bogdan on July 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The heros of this book are the large images. While I'm thankful to the author for presenting these rare reproductions, his occasional ambiguous, pontificating attempt to analyze them is typical of non practitioners trying to delve into the complex world of production (particularly lost practices of Masterworks). This common flaw in writers who pretend to be `in the know' has created much confusion about process. Eddenfield does note important studio practices rarely acknowledged today ie. - utilizing engravings and plaster casts that aided Prudhon. He notes standard, helpful bits of historic info regarding specific works but his ramblings can sometimes distract us from a more solid, critical analysis. (His bio revealing his modern bent, deems him a poor candidate in my opinion to be writing about one of the most sophisticated classical draftsmen of the 18th-early 19th C.)
There's a nice poetic quality here in describing P's work and while some drawing may seem erotic, much is wasted on speculations about seemingly effeminate male poses which has little to do with our understanding the artform. Soft, angelic interpretations, particularly in faces, were easily inherited from stylizations of the Italian "manner", especially from artists as delicate as Correggio, who's work influenced P- while he copied in Italy extensively. Space would have been better spent on ie. close-ups, so rare and prized by painters like myself. Here less would have been more.
Of more important technical interest to the artist: there are several erroneous statements made ie. pg. 89 "...P sees only the surface, he does not attempt to relate outward appearance to internal structure." Quite a naïve, superficial assumption (not surprising from our photo-sited society - in its inability to see beyond the surface).
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16 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book covers the structural anatomy with pin-point accuracy. Though this isn't really an anatomy book by title, by examining Prud'hon's structural techniques, one can easily see all of college's artistic anatomy classes in one of his graphics.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of my favorite books on drawing the figure. The drawings are amazing and it is a great reference on both technique and style. This book is a must have for the serious artist.
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