Pierre Paul Prud'Hon, a French painter, born at Cluny, April 4, 1758, died in Paris, Feb. 16, 1823. He was educated by charity, developed a taste for art, and was placed under the tuition of Devosges at Dijon. Having won a prize awarded by the states of Burgundy, he went to Rome, where he became intimate with Canova. In 1789 he went to Paris, where he supported himself by painting miniatures and making drawings for concert tickets, bill heads, tradesmen's cards, and confectionery boxes. In 1794 he went to Rigney, near Gray, and executed a series of pastel portraits for which he received a handsome price. On his return to Paris he won a prize for an allegorical drawing, representing "Wisdom and Virtue descending upon earth." In 1805 he painted on a ceiling in the museum of the Louvre "Diana imploring Jupiter;" and in 1808, for the hall of the criminal court, "Justice and Divine Vengeance pursuing Crime." For this he received from Napoleon the cross of the legion of honor, was appointed teacher to the empress Maria Louisa, and became a member of the institute.
He painted "Psyche borne away by the Zephyrs" (1808), "Zephyr balancing himself upon the Water," a portrait of the king of Rome, "Venus and Adonis" (1810), "Andromache" (1817), and "The Assumption" (1819). In 1821 his pupil Constance Mayer, for whom he entertained a warm affection, put an end to her life, and thenceforth he pined away. He nevertheless completed "The Indigent Family," the rough draught of which had been left by his unfortunate pupil, and "Christ dying upon the Cross," which was exhibited after his death.