Monday, February 2, 2009

AN gruh, zhahn oh GOOST daw mee NEEK

Image courtesy of Don Kurtz

After an early academic training in the Toulouse academy Ingres, Jean Auguste Dominique (1780-1867) went to Paris in 1796 and was a fellow student of Gros in David's studio. He won the Prix de Rome in 1801, but owing to the state of France's economy he was not awarded the usual stay in Rome until 1807. In the interval he produced his first portraits. These fall into two catagories: portraits of himself and his friends, conceived in a Romantic spirit (Gilibert, Musée Ingres, Montauban, 1805), and portraits of well-to-do clients which are characterized by purity of line and enamel-like coloring (Mlle Rivière, Louvre, Paris, 1805). These early portraits are notable for their calligraphic line and expressive contour, which had a sensuous beauty of its own beyond its function to contain and delineate form. It was a feature that formed the essential basis of Ingres's painting throughout his life.
Ingres is a puzzling artist and his career is full of contradictions. Yet more than most artists he was obsessed by a restricted number of themes and returned to the same subject again and again over a long period of years. He was a bourgeois with the limitations of a bourgeois mentality, but as Baudelaire remarked, his finest works `are the product of a deeply sensuous nature'. The central contradiction of his career is that although he was held up as the guardian of Classical rules and precepts, it is his personal obsessions and mannerisms that make him such a great artist. His technique as a painter was academically unimpeachable--he said paint should be as smooth `as the skin of an onion'--but he was often attacked for the expressive distortions of his draughtsmanship; critics said, for example, that the abnormally long back of La Grande Odalisque (Louvre, 1814) had three extra vertebrae. Unfortunately the influence of Ingres was mainly seen in those shortcomings and weaknesses which have come to be regarded as the hallmark of inferior academic work. He had scores of pupils, but Chassériau was the only one to attain distinction. As a great calligraphic genius his true successors are Degas and Picasso.
© 19 Aug 2002, Nicolas Pioch

The Forestier Family
© R.M.N.
© 2005-2008 Musée du Louvre

This is a family portrait of Ingres's fiancée, Julie Forestier, with her parents and uncle. It was drawn by the artist shortly before his departure for Rome in the autumn of 1806. The geographical separation of the couple led to the abandonment of the marriage plans and Julie Forestier never married.
The five persons represented here are as follows, from left to right: Clotilde, the Forestier family's maid; Julie's uncle, Joseph Armand Sallé; Julie's mother, Marie-Jeanne-Julie née Sallé; her only daughter, Julie, then engaged to the painter Ingres; and finally, on the right, Julie's father, Charles-Pierre-Michel Forestier, attorney at the Parlement de Paris. The details in the portrait are anecdotal (the piano showing the girl's gift for music) or symbolic (a dog, representing fidelity).
This is a genuine romantic memento. Ingres drew the family portrait when he had to leave his fiancée Julie and spend four years at the French Academy in Rome (the Villa Medici) after winning the Prix de Rome in 1801. Once he had left, the pair decided to separate. Ingres married Madeleine Chapelle, a young milliner, in 1813. Julie Forestier did not marry and her misadventure even inspired her to write a short novel, Emma ou la fiancée. After they had broken up, she returned the drawing to Ingres, who made one (or two) copies
Ingres produced a very large number of graphic works (more than 5,000 drawings) and the drawn portraits of many of his contemporaries (nearly 500) are regarded as being among the finest. The Louvre has some thirty graphite portraits in which the artist captures the features of the model and also the character. That of the Forestier Family is one of the best known on account of both the skill in the placing of the different figures and the delicacy of the drawing.
(© 2005-2008 Musée du Louvre)
For years at Salon exhibitions, Parisian critics condemned Ingres's paintings as "Gothic" because his classicism was different from that of his teacher, Jacques-Louis David.
Ingres won the Prix de Rome in 1801. A lifelong admirer of both Raphael and ancient art, he adored Italy. While residing in Rome, he often lived hand-to-mouth, surviving by drawing graceful pencil portraits of wealthy French people on holiday. He returned to Paris in 1824 to find his Vow of Louis XIII applauded by critics. Compared with the free brushwork and brilliant color of newcomer Eugéne Delacroix, Ingres's elegant paintings suddenly seemed more palatable.
From that point on, Ingres was generally honored by both the government and the artistic establishment. He was awarded commissions and assumed authority in the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Eventually, his sincere belief in the supremacy of line over color and his own polished style mutated into dictatorship. "Touch," said Ingres, "is the device of charlatans to show their skill with the brush."
(© J. Paul Getty Trust)

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière
Year 1805
Dimensions Deutsch: 100 × 70 cm
Current location Deutsch: Musée du Louvre
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The painting is the third of three portraits of the Rivière family the artist painted that year. Caroline's father, Philbert Rivière, was a successful court official under Napoleon's empire, and sought to commemorate himself, his wife and his daughter through a commission with the then young and rising artist. Although Ingres favoured painting subject matter drawn from history or Greek legend, at this early stage in his career he earned his living mainly through commissions from wealthy patrons. The family lived outside Paris, at St. Germain-en-Laye, and Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière would have been between 13 and 15 at the time she was portrayed; according to Ingres the "ravishing daughter".
The younger Rivière's portrait describes slightly-built and youthful femininity and hints at a hesitant openness. The painting is rendered in bright hues and set against a serene white–blue early spring landscape, the freshness of which was intended to reflect the youth of the sitter. The background is not deeply portrayed; the perspective is shallow and rises—according to the art historian Robert Rosenblum—in "flattened horizontal tiers against which the figure seems crisply silhouetted as if in low relief."
Typical of portraits by Ingres of the time, Caroline Rivière is drawn with a disregard for anatomical accuracy. Her neck is overly elongated, and the bridge of her nose extends too far. Rivière is portrayed with a stiffness and awkwardness typical of her age, and shown in a manner which was intended to emphasise a sense of the nascent purity and simplicity of her youth. Yet the painting is generally seen in the light of pathos and tragedy, as the sitter died within a year of the work being completed.
It was, along with Ingres's two other portrayals of the family, exhibited in the 1806 Salon, but was poorly received for its perceived "Gothicness" (due to its precision of line and enamel finish) and its similarity to Jan van Eyck and other artists of Early Netherlandish painting (in French "Les Primitifs Flamands"). Further, the manner in which the whiteness of the sitter's dress contrasts with the curve of her boa offended some viewers. Today the painting is typically seen as a peak in Ingres's artistic career, and in this work Ingres introduces an emotional link between figurative and landscape art, and the watery scape behind the sitter evokes rhythms with many of the visual themes presented in the rich imagery of the foreground.
In 2003, the art critic Jonathan Jones remarked of the painting:
The sexuality Ingres usually reserved for harem fantasies slips over into the real and respectable world in this charged portrait. His obviously intense visual relationship with his subject and his contentment to look, with a clinical waxy fetishism, at Mademoiselle Rivière's full lips, bared neck, long gloves and spectacularly serpentine boa, lend this picture drama."
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Redirected from Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière (Ingres))

Images of (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999)
© Guardian News and Media Limited 2009

On arrival in Rome, he devoted himself to history paintings. He determined to remain in Italy until he could be sure of a triumphant return to Paris. As a result of Napoleon's defeat in 1815, Ingres was cut off from potential patrons, and he turned to again to portraiture to support himself. Although he disliked the drudgery of such commissioned work, Ingres drew many beautiful and intimate pencil portraits of his friends, and this style of portrait became popular with paying customers.
In 1816, Ingres was commissioned by George Forbes, a Scottish tourist, to draw him with his fiancée Mary Hay (1790-1877). Ingres developed a composition appropriate to a betrothal, but Forbes was called away from Rome before the drawing could be completed. Mary's brother, Sir John Hay (1788-1838), stood in for Forbes, but Ingres refused to alter the composition. The couple wear matching flowers, and Mary's engagement ring is heavily drawn. Mary and George were married in 1819, but Forbes was displeased with the drawing, and had it reproduced photographically with the figure of his brother-in-law removed.
(J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou, London, The British Museum Press, 1984)
Ingres was always a classicist, loyal to a tradition that, in French eyes, connected modern art with that of Greece, Rome and the Italian Renaissance. Ingres's The Apotheosis of Homer (1827) depicts the continuity of French classicism: Poussin is among worthies paying homage to the ancient poet. Ingres won the Prix de Rome in 1801 but, in a war-torn Europe, it wasn't until 1806 that he could take up this travel prize. He settled in Rome until 1824.
(© Guardian News and Media Limited 2009)

The Apotheosis of Homer
Oil on canvas, 1827
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Ingres was regarded as an effective teacher and was beloved by his students. The best known of them is Théodore Chassériau, who studied with him from 1830, as a precocious eleven-year-old, until Ingres closed his studio in 1834 to return to Rome. Ingres considered Chassériau his truest disciple—even predicting, according to an early biographer, that he would be "the Napoleon of painting." By the time Chassériau visited Ingres in Rome in 1840, however, the younger artist's growing allegiance to the romantic style of Delacroix was apparent, leading Ingres to disown his favorite student, of whom he never again spoke favorably. No other artist who studied under Ingres succeeded in establishing a strong identity; among the most notable of them were Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin, Henri Lehmann, and Eugène Emmanuel Amaury-Duval.
Ingres's influence on later generations of artists has been considerable. His most significant heir was Degas, who studied under Louis Lamothe, a minor disciple of Ingres. In the twentieth century, Picasso and Matisse were among those who acknowledged a debt to the great classicist; Matisse described him as the first painter "to use pure colors, outlining them without distorting them."
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Louis-François Bertin
Oil on canvas, 1832
45 5/8 x 37 3/8 inches (116 x 95 cm)
Musée du Louvre, Paris

View the feature

In his portrait by Ingres, Monsieur Bertin, the founder of the newspaper Journal des Débats, embodies the thriving bourgeoisie of the 1830s. It took Ingres a lot of time and effort to find a pose which would convey a sense of power adequate to the press magnate.
He was at the height of his career when he commissioned this work from the artist. In 1799, he had purchased a medium-circulation newspaper, Le Journal des Débats, which became one of the major periodicals of the time. It was chiefly devoted to political matters, but also dealt with the arts. The Journal des Débats favored constitutional monarchy and the Orleanist party, and was therefore an opposition paper during the reigns of Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles X (indeed it was banned by the former). After Louis-Philippe’s accession to the throne, however, it found itself aligned with the government.
So in 1832, Bertin was a man of influence in France, in charge of a newspaper which represented the interests and opinions of the newly triumphant business bourgeoisie. Bertin was a wealthy bourgeois, owner of a successful paper, a mansion in Paris, and a château in Bièvres; but he was also a man of action and conviction, who played a central role in the political life of his time.
(© 2005-2008 Musée du Louvre)
"If I had to select just one artist whose work is the most fruitful and instructive to the historian of dress for the period covering the first half of the Nineteenth Century, it would be Ingres. From that time, when the fashion spotlight was on the dress and appearance of women rather than on men Ingres has left an unrivalled and detailed record of the female image. Such images are primarily conjured up through portraiture, which is obviously I superb source of information on clothing. In his famous essay 'The Painter of Modern Life', Baudelaire remarks how portraits
are clothed in the costume of their own period. They are perfectly harmonious because everything - from costume and coiffure down to gesture, glance and smile (for each age has a deportment, a glance and a smile of its own) - everything, I say, combines to form a completely viable whole.
"When we look at portraits by Ingres, we 'situate ourselves' (in John Berger's phrase apropos painted landscapes but even more relevant to portraiture) within the frame, we imagine ourselves wearing the garments the artist depicts with such intensity of detail, and we wonder how they would feel on our bodies; we conjure up the sensation of touch when we look at the fabrics. Ingres's heightened depiction of the visible and the tactile becomes our experience, too. When one looks in detail at the surviving costume of the period, it is astonishing to see not just how accurate Ingres is in terms of the cut and construction of garments and the depiction of fabrics and accessories in his work, but also how alive he is to the nuances and the sense of clothing. Not only will Ingres paint the brilliance of a fine cashmere shawl, for example, where the colours flow like all oriental imagery, but he will also lead the eye to such tiny but telling details as the way in which the twisted fringe on the border of the fine wool gets caught up on the fabric of a dress. He will - even in a drawing - delight in the draping of the finest muslin gowns, and focus on the way in which this gossamer material is pleated at the neck or at the breast.

Napoleon I on His Imperial Throne
Oil on canvas, 1806
101 7/8 x 63 3/4 inches (259 x 162 cm)
Musee de L'Armee, Paris

French artists were encouraged to glorify Napoleon I (1769–1821) after he was crowned emperor on December 2, 1804. Ingres, then in his mid-twenties and a student of Jacques-Louis David, rose to the challenge. Rather than relying upon Baroque traditions of royal portraiture, Ingres turned to archaic modes of imperial representation. He depicted the emperor seated on a magnificent throne, holding a scepter (topped by a statuette of the medieval emperor Charlemagne), an ivory hand of justice (which had purportedly belonged to Charlemagne), and Charlemagne's own sword. These and other historical items were used by Napoleon to link himself with great French leaders of the past. It is not known whether Ingres received a commission for this work or painted it on speculation, but it was purchased by the French legislature (Corps Législatif) just prior to its appearance at the Salon of 1806.
(Copyright © 2000–2009 The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Princesse Albert de Broglie,
née Joséphine-Eléonore-Marie-Pauline
de Galard de Brassac de Béarn
Oil on canvas, 1853
47 3/4 x 35 5/8 inches (121.3 x 90.8 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan

Although portraiture was a genre he came to dislike, Ingres depicted many of the leading personalities of his day. This painting of Joséphine Eléonore Marie Pauline de Galard de Brassacede Béarn, princesse de Broglie, is his last commissioned portrait of a female sitter. A member of the most cultivated circles of the Second Empire, the princess was renowned for her great beauty as well as her reserve, both qualities captured in this portrait. Ingres' facility for brilliantly transcribing the material quality of objects is seen in the rich satin and lace of the sitter's gown, the silk damask upholstery, and the richly embroidered evening scarf draped across the chair. Also rendered in exquisite detail are her sumptuous jewels, which include the fashionable antique-inspired pendant around her neck.
The princesse de Broglie died of consumption at the age of thirty-five. Her bereaved husband kept this portrait behind draperies in perpetual tribute to her memory. It remained in the family until shortly before it was acquired by Robert Lehman and retains the original, ornately carved frame that Ingres himself selected.
(From Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan)
Ingres, a pupil of David's, never let his brushwork show. As a Neo-classicist, he consciously kept emotion out of his works. He preferred painting historical narratives and felt that portraits were somehow beneath him. Yet, his portraits were his best work and that by which we remember him.
(©2009, a part of The New York Times Company)
Ingres was interred in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France on 14 January, 1867.

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