October 3, 2010

Ever since seeing one of his life drawings at the Getty Museum, I’ve completely fallen in love with the work of Neoclassical painter Pierre-Paul Prud’hon. While many artists stop academic life drawing after their days as a student, Prud’hon continued to draw from the model throughout his career. These studies were not for larger projects but simply were the result of his love of drawing. His drawing abilities soared as the decades passed and the technique he used was original and masterful. In a museum filled with master drawings, his stand out. In the eyes of many, his drawings are more memorable than his paintings.

Ever since seeing his work, I’ve been curious to know how much I need to make it in order to be able to afford one of Prud’hon’s academic drawings. Ten grand? A Hundred Grand? A million? A Google Alert let me know that one had come up for sale in a gallery in Paris. When I went to the site, the price wasn’t listed – you had to inquire to find out. I quickly filled out the form and the next morning had an email with the answer: 540,000 Euros (671,111 dollars). Well, now I knew and I had a clear understanding of what was needed in order to be able to afford one. I thought that was the end of it, but a week later a got a follow up call on my cell phone from the gallery. This makes sense, since adding new rich folk to a client database is obviously what you’re in business for.

The phone call itself was quite enjoyable. It’s fun to be mistaken for a multi-millionaire and, having read everything in English that there is on Prud’hon, I had the erudition to pass for a refined art collector. We talked about Prud’hon and the drawing itself (which was once owned by Alexander Dumas) and, as the conversation went on, the gallery owner mentioned there was room for negotiation in the price. He went so far as to invite me to his gallery for a private viewing of the piece whenever I wanted. I explained that I wasn’t sure the next time I would be in Paris and that the exchange rate of the dollar to Euro was unfavorable right now. I’m sure after I got off the phone, he took a card with my name on it and filed it away in a database filled with princes and moguls.

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