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Famous Painters: Ingres

Posted by Susan Benford

Ingres was one of the most famous painters in France during the first half of the 19th century.  His father, a musician, sculptor and painter, permitted 16 year old Ingres to move to Paris and apprentice with Jacques-Louis David, the founder of Neoclassicism

Jean-August-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) stood at a crossroads in the history of painting.  He ultimately became the last standard-bearer of French Classicism, as practiced by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) two centuries prior, in its rivalry with Romanticism, as defined by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and championed by Ingres' rival, Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863). Although Ingres ultimately failed in ousting Delacroix's vision (Ingres sniped that Delacroix was "the apostle of the ugly"), Ingres nonetheless is deemed one of France's most famous painters, primarily due to his brilliant portraits. 

ingres grande odalisque resized 600Jean-Auguste-Dominque Ingres.  Grande Odalisque, 1814.  Oil on canvas, 35 7/8" by 63".  Louvre, Paris.

Now considered one of Ingres' best paintings, Grand Odalisque was commissioned in 1813 by Caroline Murat, Napoleon's sister and the queen of Naples. Grande Odalisque was reviled when it was first exhibited at the Salon of 1819; critics berated its lack of anatomical reality and Ingres' deviation from pure Neoclassicism. She is no classical, idealized beauty, sporting too many vertebrae and an impossibly long (and elbowless) right arm.

Although its subject - the reclining female nude - harks back to ancient Greek, Ingres nods to contemporary themes in two ways:

  • the odalisque (oda is a room in a Turkish harem) reflects the Romantic interest in all things exotic or foreign.  According to Marilyn Stokstad, Grand Odalisque is one of the earliest examples of Orientalism in the history of painting, as the Western interest in the Muslims of North Africa and Near East was labelled. This "exoticism" is further conveyed with the concubine's fan and turban, and with the incense burner and hash pipe.

  • the concubine's features, though, are pure European, reflecting tastes of the Parisian public (and prevalent Eurocentric attitudes).

ingres vow louis xiiiIngres claimed that his painting muse was Raphael, whom Ingres felt embodied the essence of Classicism. This influence is readily apparent in comparing Ingres' Vow of Louis XIII (left) with Raphael's Sistine Madonna (right).

raphael sistine madonna

Raphael's Pope Julius II in the lower left corner has been replaced by Louis XIII. Instead of a religious painting depicting entry to 

Right: Raphael.  Sistine Madonna, 1513.  Oil on canvas, 8' 8 1/2" x 6' 5".  Gem√§ldegalerie, Dresden.

Paradise, Ingres refashioned Raphael's masterpiece into a contemporary political painting.  Napoleon had fallen in 1815; his court painter, David, was in exile in Brussels; and a new generation of Romantic painters surged.  When The Vow was exhibited at the Salon of 1824, critics claimed that Ingres was the savior of the Classical tradition.  

Jean-August-Dominque Ingres.  The Vow of Louis XIII, 1824.  Montauban Cathedral, Montauban

Although Ingres' history paintings established his early reputation, it is his portraits andingres madame moitessier their mastery of line that cemented his tenure in the history of painting.  Nowhere is this more apparent that in his masterful Portrait of Madame Ines Moitessier

Ingres initially refused the 1844 request of Sigisbert Moitessier to paint a portrait of his wife but recanted after meeting her.  Seven years later, though, Ingres hadn't finished this initial portrait and painted a standing portrait (right) instead.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.  Madame Moitessier, 1851.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.  

Ingres completed the seated portrait in 1856.  As in many of his portraits, he melded the actual with the ideal.  Here, Madame Moitessier is an earth-bound goddess, with flawlessly smooth skin, sensual arms and shoulders, and a Raphaelesque face.  The complexity of the composition - with the richly detailed fabric, the fan of peacock feathers, the dog-topped urn - is successful due to Ingres' precision with texture and shape.

Madame's pose with her hand touching her cheek is likely derived from an ancient Roman fresco in Herculaneum, while the profile (impossibly) reflected is Greek.  
ingres portrait madame ines moitessier resized 600

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Portrait of Madame Moitessier, though, is riveting because she nonchalantly meets the viewer's gaze, as if she, too, is assessing a painting.

In my mind, this portrait alone secures Ingres' status among the most famous painters.  At the least, Portrait of Madame Ines Moitessier was worth the wait!

Jean-Auguste-Dominque Ingres.  Portrait of Madame Ines Moitessier, 1856.  Oil on canvas, 47 1/4" by 36 2/4".  National Gallery, London

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Famous Painters Blogroll

Anguissola, Three Sisters Playing Chess and Phillip II of Spain

Beckmann, Departure; Self-Portrait in Tuxedo; Sinking of Titanic

Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Missouri

BonheurPlowing in the Nivernais

Bonheur, The Horse Fair

Botticelli Primavera

Caravaggio, Fashion and Art History

CaravaggioConversion of St. Paul

Caravaggio, Young, Sick Bacchus and Basket of Fruit

Caravaggio, Cardsharps and Fortune Teller

Caravaggio, St. Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy

Caravaggio, Taking of Christ (Kiss of Judas)

Caravaggio Paintings at the Villa Borghese

Cave Paintings

Cezanne, Bathers

Cezanne, Card Players

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Copley, Paul Revere

David, Death of Marat 

David, Death of Socrates

David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps

de Kooning, Retrospective at MoMA (Part I)

de Kooning,Excavation and Painting, 1948 

de KooningWoman I

Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People  

Diebenkorn, The Ocean Park Series

Duncanson, Robert Seldon.  Art History Welcomes Duncanson 

Durer, The Four Apostles

El Greco, Burial of Count Orgaz

FontanaPortrait of a Noblewoman

Frankenthaler, Color Field Painting and Mountains and Sea

Gainsborough, The Blue Boy

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Judith Beheading Holofernes

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting 

Ghent Altarpiece.  

Ghent Altarpiece via zoom

GiorgioneThree Philosophers 

Goya, Family of Charles IV

Goya, The Third of May 1808 

Goya, Duchess of Alba; Saturn Devouring his Son; Two Old Men; Half-Submerged Dog; Black Paintings

Grunewald, Isenheim Altarpiece

Hals, Banquet of the Officers of the St. George Civic Guard

Hals, The Laughing Cavalier

Hals, Regents of St. Elizabeth's Hospital

Hopper, Nighthawks

Ingres, Grande Odalisque and Portrait of Madame Moissetier

Isenheim Altarpiece

Kahlo, Renowned Frida Kahlo Paintings.  

Angelica Kauffmann.  Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting and David Garrick.  

Klimt, The Kiss and Adele Bloch-Bauer

Leonardo, Painter at the Court of Milan, National Gallery, London 

Leonardo, La Bella Principessa 

Leonardo, New Mona Lisa

Leonardo, Benois Madonna and Madonna Litta 

Leonardo, Savior of the World(Salvator Mundi) 

Leonardo, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne

Leyster, Famous Female Painters 

ManetA Bar at the Folies-Bergere

Manet, Luncheon in the Studio

Manet, The Old Musician

Manet, Street Singer

MantegnaDead Christ

Matisse Paintings, In Search of True Painting

Matisse, The DanceThe Music

Matisse, The Cone Collection

Matisse, The Red Studio

Matisse, The Yellow Dress

Michelangelo, Crucifixion with the Madonna

Michelangelo, Famous Paintings

Michelangelo, La Pieta with Two Angels (latest attribution?)

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Modersohn-Becker, Famous Female Painters

Monet, Waterlilies

Morisot, Famous Paintings

MorisotMore Famous Paintings

Munch, The Scream

O'Keeffe, Jack in the Pulpit

Picasso, Girl Before a Mirror

Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust

Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein

Picasso, Las Meninas

Piero della Francesca, The Baptism of Christ

Poussin, Assumption of the Virgin

Raphael, Sistine Madonna

Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer 

Rembrandt, Night Watch

Rembrandt paintings at Frick Show

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Rembrandt, The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild

Rubens, Venus and Adonis

Sanchez Cotan, Spanish Still-life

Sargent, El Jaleo

Sargent, Madame X

Steen, The Christening Feast 

Steen paintings at Frick Show

Tanner, The Banjo Lesson and The Thankful Poor

Titian, Assumption of the Virgin

Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne

Titian, Man with a Glove

Titian, Nymph and Shepherd, Allegory of Prudence, Jacopa Strada, St. Jerome, Slaying of Marysas

Titian, Rape of Europa

Turner, J. M. W, The Fighting Temeraire

Uccello, Battle of San Romano

van der Weyden, St. Luke Drawing the Virgin

Velazquez, Pope Innocent X

Vincent van Gogh paintings up to 1889

Vincent van Gogh paintings, 1888-1890

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van Eyck, Adoration of the Lamb

van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece

van Gogh, The Potato Eaters

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van Gogh, Starry Night

Velazquez, Juan de Pareja

Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring

Vermeer, Saint Praxedis

Vermeer, The Kitchen Maid

Vermeer, The Allegory of Painting

VermeerGirl with the Red Hat

Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans

Warhol, Marilyn Diptych and Gold Marilyn 

Warhol, Mao 

Anders Zorn

Famous Paintings by Art Museums - ebooks

Learn about famous paintings to see in these art museums:

Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY). One of those intimate, small art museums with a stellar collectionFamous Paintings at Albright-Knox. 

Art Institute of Chicago: Plan to see these famous paintings at the Art Institute -- and download an ebook about them.

Louvre Museum, (Paris): one of the largest art museums in the world! Know which Louvre paintings not to miss in this sortable ebook. 

Mauritshuis Museum: explore works by renowned Dutch painters

Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City): download the ebook, Famous-Paintings-Metropolitan-Museum, to learn its must-see masterpieces.

National Gallery (London): with 2300 famous paintings alone in its European painting section, discover highlights to see!  Art Paintings to See at the National Gallery.

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Female Artists

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Sofonisba AnguissolaThree Sisters Playing ChessPhillip II of Spain

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Famous Paintings ebook

This free ebook has a wealth of facts and articles about the 250 influential paintings in Masterpiece Cards.

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