Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres – French 1780-1867

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Self Portrait ca. 1800
Self Portrait, ca. 1800
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was the son of a minor painter and sculptor, Jean-Marie-Joseph Ingres (1755-1814). After an early academic training in the Toulouse Academy he 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 categories: portraits of himself and his friends, conceived in a Romantic spirit (Self-portrait, Musée Condé, Chantilly, 1804), and portraits of well-to-do clients characterized by purity of line and enamel-like colouring (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.

During his first years in Rome he continued to execute portraits and began to paint bathers, a theme which was to become one of his favourites (The Valpinçon Bather, Louvre, Paris, 1808). He remained in Rome when his four-year scholarship ended, earning his living principally by pencil portraits of members of the French colony. But he also received more substantial commissions, including two decorative paintings for Napoleon's palace in Rome (Triumph of Romulus over Acron, École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1812; and Ossian's Dream, Musée Ingres, 1813). In 1820 he moved from Rome to Florence, where he remained for 4 years, working mainly on his Raphaelesque Vow of Louis XIII, commissioned for the Cathedral of Montauban.

Ingres's work had often been severely criticized in Paris because of its 'Gothic' distortions, and when he accompanied this painting to the Salon of 1824 he was surprised to find it acclaimed and himself set up as the leader of the academic opposition to the new Romanticism. (Delacroix's Massacre of Chios was shown at the same Salon.) Ingres stayed in Paris for the next ten years and received the official success and honours he had always craved. During this period he devoted much of his time to executing two large works: The Apotheosis of Homer, for a ceiling in the Louvre (installed 1827), and The Martyrdom of St. Symphorian (Salon, 1834) for the cathedral of Autun. When the latter painting was badly received, however, he accepted the Directorship of the French School in Rome, a post he retained for 7 years. He was a model administrator and teacher, greatly improving the school's facilities, but he produced few major works in this period.

In 1841 he returned to France, once again acclaimed as the champion of traditional values. He was heartbroken when his wife died in 1849, but he made a happy second marriage in 1852, and he continued working with great energy into his 80s. One of his acknowledged masterpieces, the extraordinarily sensuous Turkish Bath (Louvre, 1863), dates from the last years of his life. At his death he left a huge bequest of his work (several paintings and more than 4,000 drawings) to his home town of Montauban and they are now in the museum bearing his name there.

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 Chasseriau was the only one to attain distinction. As a great calligraphic genius his true successors are Degas and Picasso.

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Ingres and the Studio: Women, Painting, History by Sarah Betzer – Hardcover: 328 pages; Penn State University Press (Apr 7, 2012) Best Seller

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres has long been recognized as one of the great painters of the modern era and among the greatest portraitists of all time. Over a century and a half of scholarly writing on the artist has grappled with Ingres’s singular identity, his relationship to past and future masters, and the idiosyncrasies of his art. Ingres and the Studio: Women, Painting, History makes a unique contribution to this literature by focusing on the importance of Ingres’s training of students and the crucial role played by portraits—and their subjects—for Ingres’s studio and its developing aesthetic project.

Ingres by Manuel Jover Paperback: 255 pages; Terrail (Jan 30, 2006)

Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch by Jean-Auge-Dominique Ingres, Gary Tinterow (Editor), philip Conisbee (Editor) – Hardcover: 608 pages; Yale University Press (1999)

Like his contemporaries, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres considered history paintings to be the most exalted form of art, with portraiture a lesser genre. Even during his lifetime, however, tastes were changing, and while icons like his Turkish Bath and Grande Odalisque are still highly regarded, Ingres is most admired today for his innovative and vivid portraits, which transcend time in their physical and psychological truth.

Portraits by Ingres—the catalog of the first comprehensive exhibition in America of Ingres's portraits, organized by the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the National Galleries in Washington, D.C., and London—is beautifully produced and impressively researched.

Ingres, Then and Now (Re Visions: Critical Studies in the History and Theory of Art) by Adrian Rifkin – Paperback: 176 pages; Routledge; 1st edition (Feb, 2000)

Ingres Then, and Now is an innovative study of one of the best-known French artists of the nineteenth century, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Adam Rifkin reevaluates Ingres' work in the context of a variety of literary, musical and visual cultures which are normally seen as alien to him.
Rifkin offers insightful interpretations of Ingres' early work, and follows the artist's image in the popular cultures of the twentieth century. Approaching Ingres' paintings as symptomatic of the commodity cultures of nineteenth-century Paris, he draws the artist away from his familiar association with the Academy and the Salon, and instead situates Ingres in the world of the Parisian Arcades. Finally, the book examines Ingres' importance for the great French art critic Jean Cassou, and makes a bold, contemporary gay appropriation of his work.

Ingres Then, and Now transforms the popular image we have of Ingres. Rifkin argues that the figure of the artist is neither fixed in time or place--there is neither an essential man named Ingres, nor a singular body of his work--but rather is an effect of many complex and overlapping historical forces. Lavishly illustrated with over 50 images, this compelling study will transform our understanding of Ingres and his cultural impact.

Ingres's Eroticized Bodies: Retracing the Serpentine Line by Carol Ockman – Hardcover: 178 pages; Yale University Press (Mar 1995)

This provocative book—the first full-length feminist and sociohistorical study of Ingres's art—explores the meanings behind the fluid, distorted, and sensualized bodies that populate these works. Carol Ockman traces the shift in late eighteenth-century French art from the neoclassical representation of the heroic male to the sensualized, homoerotic male nude to the nineteenth-century emphasis on the female nude.

Portrait of an Artist: Ingres – Slaves to Fashion (1982) Actors: Gregory Peck, Ned Beatty, William Howze, Lewis Sharp, Brian W. Dippie, more

Color, NTSC
VHS Release Date: June 6, 2000
Run Time: 52 minutes

Ingres in Fashion: Representations of Dress and Appearance in Ingres's Images of Women by Aileen Ribeiro – Hardcover: 224 pages; Yale University Press; illustrated edition (Apr 1999)

For more than half of the nineteenth century, French artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres depicted in meticulous detail the rapidly changing appearance of the fashionable woman. This book, with over 150 illustrations, explores for the first time the ways in which clothing, accessories, and fabric defined and displayed women in Ingres`s portraits, including the grandes dames of elite society and the newly opulent bourgeoisie.

Ingres by Patrick Bade – Hardcover: 128 pages; Parkstone Press (Apr 1999)

Artist, Filmmaker, Poet, Surrealist, Man Ray was an unusually versatile artist, a trait not limited to his studio. As a lover, he was associated with some of the most famous and talked about women of his day. Some artists prefer to conceal their sexual partners, but Man Ray was the complete opposite. His paintings and, especially, his photographs are the journal of his sexual and emotional development traced her in this min-biography.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (Masters of Art) by Robert Rosenblum, Jean A. Angres, Jean A. Ingres – Hardcover: 128 pages; Harry N. Abrams (Oct 1990)

Portraits By Ingres Color, NTSC
Oct 26, 1999
25 minutes

This 25-minute-long documentary, produced in 1999 by the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., focuses on one type of painting by the superb 19th-century French painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. This video spans his 60-year career, during which Ingres reluctantly painted about 60 portraits, even though he felt they kept him from painting what he considered his best work. He also completed huge historical paintings, allegorical works, and nudes, which are also mentioned. After many years of hard work and many moves between France and Italy, Ingres became known as the leader of the classical movement. His portraits ranged from intimate sketches of friends and musicians such as Paganini to ladies of society, as well as political and social leaders. At a young age, after working in the studio of Jacques Louis David, he painted Napoleon twice, once as consul and then as emperor. This program includes a broad array of his work, with two self-portraits from early and late in his career. His dexterity with fabrics and gestures was complemented by his skill at capturing character. He also had a sense of humor; in one portrait of a society beauty, he signed his name on a calling card stuck in the frame of the mirror behind her. This program gives an eloquent overview of the artist's work and the period in which he lived, and will deservedly appeal to a broad audience. —Anne Barclay Morgan

Ingres by Georges Vigne, John Goodman (Translator) – Hardcover: 352 pages; Abbeville Press (Oct 1995)

The first complete study of the life and work of the artist whose rich, illusionistic surfaces dominated French painting for much of the 19th century.

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