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Phryné Before Her Judges

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

Each of the four late drawings on view here features figures in a cropped and compressed format. David is now using drawing not to plan paintings, but to cultivate the discordant effects of improvisation. In this case, he seems inspired by the legend of Phryne, a Greek courtesan accused of "impiety" but subsequently absolved by the judges on account of her beauty.

Unlike the sculptural bodies in David’s Neoclassical paintings of the 1780s, these figures have a new flatness that, along with their corkscrews of curly black hair, give them a look that recalls ancient Greek vase painting.

Phryné Before Her Judges, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Black chalk

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