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  • 8/29/2004

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

(August 29, 1780 - January 14, 1867)

He was the son of a tailor who was also a versatile amateur in painting, sculpture and music. He became a pupil of David, won the Prix de Rome 1801, and studied and worked in Rome 1807-20, and in Florence until 1824. This long absence from Paris, repeated 1834-41 (when he was again in Rome) partly explains his lack of sympathy with French contemporaries, notably Delacroix, who had breathed the atmosphere of Romanticism. Ingres"s view of what was classic in art was founded on Raphael rather than David, his homage to Raphael being paid in the Vow of Louis XIII (cathedral of Montauban), Salon success of 1824, and the Apotheosis of Homer , 1827, commissioned by Charles X for a ceiling in the Louvre. In subject Ingres was as various as any of his contemporaries, his works including a Romantic, moonlit Dream of Ossian , both antique and medieval themes, paintings of ceremonial functions, religious paintings, portraits, and nude compositions oriental at least in the suggestion of title, such as La Grande Odalisque and Le Bain Turc. His quarrel with the Romantics and the nature of his own Classicism could be simply stated as a preference for drawing rather than colour. His pencil portraits, many executed during his first Italian stay, display his drawing skill. In the painted portrait, such as those of M de Norvins (National Gallery, London) or Mme de Sennones (Musee de Nantes), he could produce masterpieces. The paintings of the nude of his later years have a sensuous beauty. It would be easy to call him academic and reactionary on the strength of prejudices obstinately maintained to the end of his long life, yet his realistic genius outweighs his defects. The Musee Ingres, Montauban, founded 1843, received the contents of his studio by bequest, including 4,000 of his drawings and numerous paintings.

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