Wisdom and Truth Descend to Earth and the Twilight which Conceals Them Disperses as They Approach, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
Wisdom and Truth Descend to Earth and the Twilight which Conceals Them Disperses as They Approach
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Realisation

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon: La sagesse et la vérité descendent sur la terre et les tenebres qui la couvrent se dissipent à leur approche, ca. 1799, Öl auf Leinwand, 366 cm (Durchmesser). Inv. Nr. 7341, Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures, Paris

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon

Wisdom and Truth Descend to Earth and the Twilight which Conceals Them Disperses as They Approach, 1794


Blatt
diameter: 365 mm
Inventory Number
16337
Object Number
16337 Z
Status
Not exhibited

Texts

About the Work

Pierre Paul Prud'hon makes use of his typical soft drawing techniques as he lets Minerva, the embodiment of Wisdom, and "naked" Truth hover together in the diffuse light of dawn in heaven's boundless expanse. The shadowy forms of Error and Iniquity flee into the darkness. Far away beneath these allegorical figures we can make out the terrestrial globe, on which in large letters the word 'FRANCE' can barely be discerned.

A model for this couple, who seldom appear together iconographically, can be found in a 1715 engraving by L. Desplaces after A. Coypel. Here, Minerva has banished Error and Stupidity, so that Truth can reveal itself to humankind. Prud'hon found orientation for his drawing style in the 'sfumato' paintings of Leonardo and Correggio, whose works he saw in Paris, and also in Italy during his four-year scholarship in Rome (1784-1788). The artist uses black and white chalk to draw on blue laid paper, which corresponds to the twilight mood. He uses only a few lines to give the figures volume, and works instead with the effects produced by rubbed areas.

As a characteristic example of French art at the turn of the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, Prud'hon's drawing mirrors the intellectual and political situation that marked the transition between the Revolution and the Empire. In order to give credible expression to an ideological statement, hope in the new Republic, in a picture that could be comprehended through the senses, he chose a classical subject which attracted considerable attention through its appealing adaptation of the design. With this suggestive imagery, 'La Sagesse et la Vérité' asserted itself as the opposite position to the rigorous, neoclassical doctrine of history painting as practised by artists like Jacques-Louis David and as a herald of French Romanticism. The drawing won awards in 1795 and Prud'hon was commissioned to execute a correspondingly decorative ceiling painting. Only marginally modified and ten times larger, the composition can be found today in the collection of the Musée du Louvre.

Work Data

Basic Information

Title
Wisdom and Truth Descend to Earth and the Twilight which Conceals Them Disperses as They Approach
Draughtsman
Period Produced
School
Object Type
Material
Technique
Geographic Reference
Production Reason
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Bezeichnet unten mittig (mit weißer Kreide): FRANCE
Captions Added Later
Unten mittig Stempel der Sammlung Charles-Boulanger de Boisfremont (Lugt 353); verso Stempel des Städelschen Kunstinstituts, Frankfurt am Main (Lugt 2356)
Watermark
  • Nicht geprüft

Property and Acquisition

Institution
Administration
Collection
Picture Copyright
© Städel Museum, Foto: U. Edelmann

Work Content

Motifs and References

Genre
Main Motif
Persons Shown
Associated Persons and Institutions

Iconclass

Primary
  • 52A51(+111) Wisdom; 'Sapienza', 'Sapienza humana', 'Sapienza vera' (Ripa) (+ nude)
  • 52A6(+11) Truth; 'Verità' (Ripa) (+ abstract concept represented by female figure)
  • 92C27 specific aspects, allegorical aspects of Minerva; Minerva as patroness
  • 31AA2763 floating in the air - AA - female human figure
Secondary
  • 31A25552 index finger forwards, pointing, indicating
  • 25 earth, world as celestial body

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Last import

02.12.2019