The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Zephyr
  • Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (1758 - 1823)
  • The Zephyr
  • France
  • c. 1814
  • Painting
  • Oil on paper, laid down on canvas
  • Object size: 21.4 x 16 cm
    Image size: 20 x 15.5 cm
    with frame, Object size: 49 x 44.5 x 10.5 cm
  • P295
  • West Gallery III
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • Zephyr, the west wind of springtime, was often described in Greek mythology as a gentle youth with butterfly wings. The sight of the young son of one of his sitters playing on ropes hanging from his studio ceiling is said to have inspired Prud’hon’s treatment of the theme. The artist combined references to very different oainters: to Correggio's style whom he particularly admired and to Caravaggio's Victorious Amor. Both models were known for their highly erotic scenes, an effect Prud'hon also reached with the elegant but charged figure of the young Zephyr.
    The present sketch is one of a number of preparatory works related to a picture exhibited by the artist at the Salon of 1814 (Paris, Musée du Louvre, on long-term loan to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon). The erotic presence of the boy’s figure was considered inappropriate by some critics, the composition was generally admired and was engraved on numerous occasions in the nineteenth century.