Nation Distributing Crowns to Great Men Who Protect Liberty
The mid-nineteenth-century political activist and art critic Pierre-Joseph Prudhon offered his opinion of David d’Angers’s Pantheon pediment, The Nation Distributing Crowns to Great Men Who Protect Liberty :
“What is a great man? Are there great men? May one admit, according to the principles of the French Revolution and in a republic founded on the rights of man, that he exists? At the same time as the rights of man, we have recognized progress as the principle of the new society. Now one of the effects of progress in a democratically-organized, homogenous society is that the distance between men becomes ever closer. It is a measure that society is advancing on the path of science, art, and reason. According to the ideas of the Revolution and from the perspective of the republic, the idea of great men is thus nonsense; their disappearance is one of the measures of our freedom.”
Pierre-Joseph Prudhon, Du Principe de l’art et de sa destination sociale (Paris : Garnier Frères, 1865), pp. 136-7.