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Title: Ingres
Author: Finberg, A. J.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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        ARTIST.                        AUTHOR.
    VELAZQUEZ.                     S. L. BENSUSAN.
    REYNOLDS.                      S. L. BENSUSAN.
    TURNER.                        C. LEWIS HIND.
    ROMNEY.                        C. LEWIS HIND.
    GREUZE.                        ALYS EVRE MACKLIN.
    BOTTICELLI.                    HENRY B. BINNS.
    ROSSETTI.                      LUCIEN PISSARRO.
    BELLINI.                       GEORGE HAY.
    FRA ANGELICO.                  JAMES MASON.
    REMBRANDT.                     JOSEF ISRAELS.
    LEIGHTON.                      A. LYS BALDRY.
    RAPHAEL.                       PAUL G. KONODY.
    HOLMAN HUNT.                   MARY E. COLERIDGE.
    TITIAN.                        S. L. BENSUSAN.
    MILLAIS.                       A. LYS BALDRY.
    CARLO DOLCI.                   GEORGE HAY.
    GAINSBOROUGH.                  MAX ROTHSCHILD.
    TINTORETTO.                    S. L. BENSUSAN.
    LUINI.                         JAMES MASON.
    FRANZ HALS.                    EDGCUMBE STALEY.
    VAN DYCK.                      PERCY M. TURNER.
    RUBENS.                        S. L. BENSUSAN.
    WHISTLER.                      T. MARTIN WOOD.
    HOLBEIN.                       S. L. BENSUSAN.
    BURNE-JONES.                   A. LYS BALDRY.
    VIGÉE LE BRUN.                 C. HALDANE MACFALL.
    CHARDIN.                       PAUL G. KONODY.
    FRAGONARD.                     C. HALDANE MACFALL.
    MEMLINC.                       W. H. J. & J. C. WEALE.
    CONSTABLE.                     C. LEWIS HIND.
    RAEBURN.                       JAMES L. CAW.
    JOHN S.                        SARGENT. T. MARTIN WOOD.
    LAWRENCE.                      S. L. BENSUSAN.
    DÜRER.                         H. E. A. FURST.
    MILLET.                        PERCY M. TURNER.
    WATTEAU.                       C. LEWIS HIND.
    HOGARTH.                       C. LEWIS HIND.
    MURILLO.                       S. L. BENSUSAN.
    WATTS.                         W. LOFTUS HARE.
    INGRES.                        A. J. FINBERG.
           _Others in Preparation._

    [Illustration: PLATE I.--LA VIERGE À L’HOSTIE

    (In the Louvre)

    This picture of “La Vierge à l’Hostie” is a repetition, with
    variations, of another painted by Ingres in 1840 for the Czar
    Nicholas, in which he had represented on either side of the
    Virgin the two patron saints of Russia, St. Nicholas and St.
    Alexander. In the Louvre picture, which is signed “J. Ingres,
    1854,” the two saints have been replaced by two angels. Probably
    in no other picture from his hand is the artist’s passionate
    admiration for Raphael so clearly displayed.]




    [Illustration: IN SEMPITERNUM.]

    LONDON: T. C. & E. C. JACK



       I. La Vierge à l’Hostie      Frontispiece
             In the Louvre

      II. Madame Rivière                      14
             In the Louvre

     III. Mademoiselle Rivière                24
             In the Louvre

      IV. L’Apotheose d’Homere                34
             In the Louvre

       V. M. Bertin                           40
             In the Louvre

      VI. Chérubini                           50
             In the Louvre

     VII. Le Duc d’Orléans                    60
             Musée de Versailles

    VIII. Jeanne d’Arc                        70
             In the Louvre

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was born on the 29th August 1778, at
Montauban. A stranger birthplace for a great artist could hardly be
found. All the passion not absorbed in the material cares of life
there turns to fanaticism. Religious hatred runs high. The municipal
elections are fought out on religious grounds. Protestant and Roman
Catholic hate but do not know one another. Each family lives for
itself and by itself. A visit is said to be considered as an
indiscretion. And nature there does nothing to soften the heart or the
manners of man. The soil is dusty on the surface and hard to dig. The
local colour is sombre, the general aspect of things sad. In the cold,
dull light the forms detach themselves without grace or sympathy. The
people have squat, thick-set figures, with round heads and heavy jaws.
Their souls are as sombre and hard as their faces. They have ardour,
but it is all concentrated and suppressed, burning within them like a
brazier without flames. They show an extreme eagerness for work and
gain; a silent obstinacy is the leading trait of their character.
Ingres’ mother belonged to these parts and to this race, and from her
he seems to have derived a part of his stormy and inflexible, his
unquiet and haughty genius.

Ingres’ father came from Toulouse. Little more than three miles
separate Toulouse from Montauban, but the chain of little hills which
throws off, to the left, the river Garonne, and to the right the Tarn
and the Aveyron, serves as the dividing line of two profoundly
different regions and races. In contrast with the sterile and rocky
regions of the North, the plains of Languedoc, with their great river
and verdant meadows, seem a land of joy and enchantment. It was at
Toulouse, with its courts of love, its floral fêtes, its contests of
song and poetry, that Ingres’ father was born. If we may judge from
the portrait which Ingres painted of him (it is preserved at the
Museum of Montauban), his father must have been an uncommon man. As we
see him in this portrait he has a fine forehead, with big black eyes,
and a look full of frankness and penetration. The evidence of this
portrait is confirmed by the following letter, written by Ingres
towards the end of his life, to a gentleman who had asked him for
information about his father:--

    “Sir,--Jean-Marie-Joseph Ingres was born at Toulouse (in 1734):
    his father, whom I saw in my childhood, was a master tailor; he
    lived to a great age. My father when he was very young entered
    the Academy of Toulouse. He had as master, I believe, M. Lucas,
    a celebrated sculptor, a professor of the said Academy. Later he
    went to Marseille, then settled at Montauban and married my
    mother, Anne Moulet, on 12th August 1777. He was very much loved
    and appreciated by the leading families of the city and by Mgr.
    de Breteuil, the Bishop of Montauban, of whom he made a large
    medallion in profile. This bishop employed my father a great
    deal at his palace and in his country house, situated near
    the city.

    “My father was born with a rare genius for the fine arts. I say
    the fine arts because he executed painting, sculpture, and even
    architecture with success. I saw him construct an important
    building in our principal street.

    “If M. Ingres had had the same advantages which he gave his
    son, of going to Paris to study under the greatest of our
    masters, he would have been the first artist of his time. My
    father, who drew perfectly, painted also in miniature. He also
    painted views of the country from nature....

    “Nothing came amiss to him. In sculpture his work ranged from
    the sphinxes and figures of abbés reading, which were placed in
    gardens, to the colossal statues of Liberty which he was forced
    to improvise in our temples for the Republican fêtes. He made
    with the greatest facility ornaments of all kinds, with which
    he decorated most tastefully the buildings of his time....
    Finally, he attracted everybody by his lovable character, his
    goodness, his eminently artistic tastes. Every one was anxious
    to enjoy his society.

    “He often went to Toulouse, his native place, to renew his
    strength, so to speak, in that large and beautiful city, almost
    as rich then in monuments of art as Rome, which it greatly
    resembles. He loved to find himself again with the friends of
    his youth, all distinguished artists. He took me often with him
    in these short journeys.

    “Without being a musician, my father adored music, and sang
    very well with a tenor voice. He gave me his taste for music
    and made me learn to play the violin. I succeeded well enough
    with it to be admitted into the orchestra of the Grand Theatre
    of Toulouse, where I played a concerto of Viotti with

    [Illustration: PLATE II.--MADAME RIVIÈRE

    (In the Louvre)

    This portrait of “Madame Rivière” is one of the most characteristic
    works of Ingres’ first period--the period (1800-1806) of that six
    years’ weary wait to depart for Rome which the bankruptcy of the
    public exchequer compelled the young artist to submit to. In a list of
    his works executed immediately before his first portrait of
    “Bartolini,” painted in 1805, Ingres mentions the portraits of “M.
    Rivière, Madame Rivière, and their ravishing daughter.” This fixes the
    date of these three portraits as about 1804. These are often spoken of
    by French critics as typical specimens of the artist’s “Pre-Raphaelite
    manner.” All three portraits are now in the Louvre.]

In this glowing eulogy of his father there is doubtless a certain
amount of pious exaggeration. The man was a true Toulousian, a fine
singer, an occasional performer on the violin, an improviser in
everything, with a natural gift for drawing and a plastic sense common
among his compatriots. That he would have been “one of the first
artists of his time” if he had had the advantage of studying in Paris
is manifestly absurd. His work shows a want of vigour, of
originality, of invention. He had a certain correctness of eye and
skill of hand, with some taste for arrangement and effect. That was
sufficient for the plaster decorations with which he was mainly
occupied, and even for the little portraits in miniature or red chalk
which he undertook. But he could not go beyond this, and the only
attempt to paint an important picture which he made marks clearly the
limits of his talent. His private life was somewhat irregular. He was
a great lover of the fair sex, and towards the end of his life his
wife was compelled to leave his home.

From the father, then, we may say, Ingres inherited the penetrating
vivacity of his sight, the agile suppleness and surety of his fingers,
and a certain voluptuous tendency which is particularly noticeable in
his nudes; while his immense powers of work, his obstinacy and
pugnacity, came from his mother.

At a very early age his father began to teach him drawing and music.
He first achieved success as a violinist in the salon of the bishop,
but he was at least equally precocious with his pencil. Towards the
age of twelve he was taken to Toulouse. He was at first placed with
the painter Vigan, and worked under his direction at the Académie
Royale. Then he went to the atelier of Roques, where he made rapid
progress. It was in Roques’s studio that Ingres was converted to what
he called “the religion of Raphael.” Roques had brought back with him
from Rome a number of copies of the works of the great painters of the
Renaissance, among them one of Raphael’s “Vierge à la Chaise.” Ingres
was so impressed by the beauty of this work that he is said to have
burst into tears before it. The instruction at the Toulouse Academy,
with its insistence on minute accuracy of drawing, also had a great
influence on his future career. At the end of his life Ingres, when
talking of his early studies at Toulouse, was fond of affirming that
he was still “what the little Ingres of twelve years had been.”

At the age of eighteen he was sent to Paris, and had the good
fortune--it was his own expression--to be admitted to the studio of
Louis David. He quickly gained the esteem of his master, and is said
to have been employed to paint the accessories in David’s famous
portrait of Madame Récamier. But their good understanding did not last
long. Ingres competed for the Grand Prix de Rome in 1799, and David
awarded the prize to Granger, an older pupil of his, while Ingres, to
his great indignation, was only awarded the second prize. His picture
was burnt during the Commune. The following year Ingres carried off
the prize. The subject was “Achilles receiving in his Tent the Envoys
of Agamemnon.” Flaxman, the English sculptor and illustrator of Homer,
spoke so flatteringly of Ingres’ picture that, according to M.
Delaborde, his master’s hostility was still further increased. This
painting, which is still preserved at the École des Beaux-Arts, shows
the young man’s power of vivid and accurate drawing and his respect
for the teachings of his master. But under its external conformity to
David’s principles it is possible to trace the germs of an originality
which was soon to separate the pupil, almost in spite of himself, from
the school of his master. For while David admitted the direct
imitation of nature only in his portraits and studies of the nude, he
insisted on giving the first place to the search for the grand style
in his historical compositions.

Already in this picture we see that Ingres was constitutionally
incapable of sacrificing on any grounds his unconscious desire to
imitate closely, of copying nature. In vain he tries to force himself
to attain “style” in the group he has imagined. His group is not
harmoniously arranged. It has no vital unity. Each of the figures
appeared detached from the others; but they are drawn individually
with so much realistic exactitude that the whole has the bizarre
aspect of a photograph of an assembly of artists’ models trying
different poses in a studio.

As M. de Wyzewa has well said, the young painter had received from
heaven at his birth a defect and a quality which remained intimately
connected with each other. The defect was a total absence of
imagination, invention, or aptitude to raise himself above the reality
directly offered to the painter by the sight present to his eyes; and
the quality--the very excess of which was the inevitable cause of the
defect I have just denoted--the quality was a marvellous, an
absolutely exceptional power of seeing, of understanding, and of
reproducing that reality. No painter has ever had a more exact vision
of the human figure, nor hands more skilful to fix in its entirety on
the paper or the canvas what his eyes saw. A Holbein even, with all
the fidelity of his realism, was still troubled in his observation of
the model by a shade of æsthetic idealism, by the preoccupation of
an example to be followed, or by a new process to employ: between
Dominique Ingres and his model, so long as he had this model in front
of his eyes, no consideration of any kind could interpose itself. The
painter was as possessed by his vision, as hypnotised by it, and he
was forced to copy it without changing anything. He carried away,
indeed, as the result of his stay in David’s studio, a body of
doctrines to which he remained on the whole faithful all his life, but
nature had given him gifts which were entirely different from those
which were needed to put these doctrines into practice. And this
explains why this great man, in the ignorance he always remained in of
the real source of his originality and greatness, presents to us
to-day the paradox of having been the most naturalistic of French
painters, while obstinately attempting to make himself the most


    (In the Louvre)

    This is the portrait of the “ravishing daughter” of Monsieur and
    Madame Rivière already referred to.]

Having gained the much-coveted Prix de Rome, Ingres ought to have
started at once for Italy. But the state of the public treasury was so
miserable at this period of wars and internal crises that the young
painter had to remain in Paris for five years before the funds for his
journey were forthcoming. He was allotted apartments, together with
other artists, in a deserted Capuchin convent in Paris, where he
resumed his studies and undertook any work that was offered to him.
The only official encouragement he received was an order to paint two
portraits of Napoleon. The first of these portraits was finished in
1805--the “Bonaparte, First Consul,” for the town of Lille; the
second, of “Napoleon, Emperor,” for the Hôtel des Invalides, was
finished in the following year. To those years of anxious suspense
belong the first ideas of many of the works which were afterwards to
make him famous. The dominant influences noticeable in his designs are
said to be the works of Flaxman and the paintings on antique Greek
vases. The neighbouring studio at the convent was occupied by de Gros,
who was engaged upon a series of immense canvases consecrated to the
glory of Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt. It was filled with Oriental
bric-à-brac, damascened arms, costumes, Persian rugs, Turkish pipes,
and hangings of gold and silk--everything, in short, which would help
the artist to paint the accessories of his pictures. It was in this
studio that Ingres probably painted the studies of Eastern carpets,
mosaics, &c., which are still preserved at the Museum of Montauban,
and which he used afterwards in the “Odalisques.” But the real
strength of his personality is best seen in the series of portraits
Ingres painted at this time. The first was a portrait of his father,
who came to visit him in Paris in 1801. As was his custom, he worked
on this in the following years, which explains the date, 1804,
inscribed upon the painting. It was exhibited at the Salon in 1806,
and is now at Montauban. Then he painted the portrait of himself which
is now at the Museum of Chantilly. These were followed by the three
portraits of the Rivière family, now in the Louvre. Two of these,
those of the mother and daughter, have been reproduced in the present

Towards the end of 1806 Ingres was at length supplied with the
necessary funds to proceed to Rome. Once established in the Villa
Medici fortune began to smile on him. He received several important
official commissions. His talent also found private appreciators. The
General Miollis, a fanatical admirer of Virgil; M. de Norvins, M.
Marcotte; ladies like Madame de Lavalette, Madame Forgeot, and Madame
Devauçay, gave him orders for portraits and pictures. Joachim Murat,
then King of Naples, also took an interest in the young painter who
had been born in the same province as himself. He commissioned the
“Dormeuse de Naples” and the “Grande Odalisque,” and invited him to
his Court to paint portraits of the members of his family.

So flourishing did the young artist’s affairs look that he resolved to
face the responsibilities of marriage. He authorised a friend, a M.
Loréal, an employé of the French Government in Rome, to find him a
wife. M. Loréal’s choice fell upon a Mlle. Magdaleine Chapelle, a
young Frenchwoman of about the same age as the artist, who was then
acting as cashier in a café at Guéret. M. Boyer d’Agen has recently
published a letter from the young fiancée to her sister announcing the
approaching marriage. It is dated 30th August 1813. She starts by
saying that just as she was beginning to despair of ever finding a
suitable husband “they had written to her from Rome saying they had
found exactly what she wanted.” “You can judge of the pleasure the
news gave me,” she exclaims quite frankly, “and it made me feel ten
years younger, so that I now look only twenty years of age.” She
promises to send her sister a portrait of her future husband on
another occasion, but says that for the present she must be satisfied
with a verbal description. “He is a good-looking young man. I always
said my husband must be handsome.” “He is a painter--not a
house-painter, but a great painter of history, a great talent. He
earns from ten to twelve thousand livres a year. You see that with
that we shall not die of hunger. He has a good character, and is very
gentle. He is neither a drinker, a gambler, nor a rake. He has no
faults. He promises to make me very happy, and I love to believe he

The writer of this charming letter was married to the artist about
three months after it was written. The marriage was arranged entirely
by the friends of the young couple. They had not set eyes on each
other before Ingres went to the city gates to meet his affianced
bride. They met near the Tomb of Nero. It was there that Ingres first
took the hand of the partner who was to caress and console him during
the next thirty-five years. This charming and laughing “fille à Madame
Angot” turned out to be the admirable companion which every artist
dreams of but so rarely possesses: one who will share all his hopes,
but never his doubts; who believes and admires, smiles and is patient,
and accepts all sacrifices for the glory of the one she loves.

Almost immediately after his marriage Ingres’ luck changed. Murat was
overthrown in 1814. His successor refused all the pictures that had
been commissioned from Ingres, and those which had been finished were
sold although the artist had not been paid for them. In a letter to
his friend Gelibert, dated 7th July 1818, Ingres complains that he has
been able to put nothing aside, that he has to live, as it were,
from day to day. He admits he has several orders on hand for pictures,
but “as I paint only to paint well, I take a long time over them, and
consequently earn little.” His chief resource was the making of chalk
or pencil portraits, for which his usual price was twenty-five francs.
But after each portrait, as his wife told a friend in after years,
Ingres declared that he would not do any more, that he was a painter
of history, not a draughtsman of the faces of the middle classes.
“Nevertheless,” she added, “it was necessary to live, and M. Ingres
took up his pencil again.” But as even this slender resource began to
fail him at Rome, he resolved to leave that city and take up his
residence at Florence, where his friend Bartolini, the sculptor, was
already settled.

    [Illustration: PLATE IV.--L’APOTHEOSE D’HOMERE

    (In the Louvre)

    This large and famous picture was commissioned to fill the
    ceiling of one of the galleries of the Louvre. It is signed
    “Ingres pingbat, anno 1827.” It cost the master more research
    and trouble than any of his other works. This is proved by the
    number of painted studies, some of them superior to the finished
    picture itself, and the repeated references to it in his letters
    and note-books. Homer is being crowned by Victory, and the two
    beautiful female figures seated at his feet represent the
    _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_. Around Homer are the painters,
    sculptors, and musicians whom the artist wished to glorify. “To
    his great regret,” he said he felt compelled to exclude Goethe,
    because he found too many “faults” in his writings. But
    Shakespeare and Pope were admitted. In his last version of this
    subject, made in 1865, Shakespeare was also finally expelled.]

To this period of Ingres’ first sojourn in Rome (from the end of 1806
to 1820) belong some of the artist’s finest and most personal works.
We must give the first place to his portraits. The delicious portrait
of Madame Aymon, known as “La Belle Zélie” (now in the Museum of
Rouen), was immediately followed by what is on all hands regarded as
his most beautiful work of this kind. This is the “Madame Devauçay,”
of the Museum of Chantilly. It is an admirable example of Ingres’
wonderful power of concentration and absorption in the thing seen.
Disdaining the help of accessories, he draws all his inspiration from
the face and figure of his model. He seizes the personality of his
sitter with so much completeness and such perfect sympathy and
understanding, and places it on the canvas with so much authority and
power, that the portrait of the individual takes on all the scope of a
permanent and absolute type. The portrait of “Madame de Sénonnes” (now
in the Museum of Nantes), which was painted about 1810, has the same
intensity of spirit as the “Madame Devauçay,” and the same exquisite
perfection of modelling and design. It is also marked by greater ease
and freedom of handling, a sign of the young master’s growing
confidence in his own genius. It is generally regarded as Ingres’
masterpiece of feminine portraiture.

The well-known “Œdipus and the Sphinx” was painted in 1808, while
the artist was still a pensioner of the School of Rome. It is hard for
us to understand the horror and dislike which this picture provoked
among the leading spirits of the school of David. What seems to us a
typical example of classic art struck the official representatives of
Classicism as the work of a revolutionary. In his report on this
picture, M. Lethière, the director of the School of Rome, regrets that
M. Ingres, in spite of his talent, has failed to grasp the secret of
the “grand and noble style of the great masters of the Roman school.”
To appreciate the originality and daring of this work, we must compare
the figure of Œdipus with that of the Roman heroes in David’s “Rape
of the Sabines.” David’s figures are all cast in the same mould. All
the particularities of the individual model are ruthlessly eliminated.
When we turn from the vague and empty generalisations of David,
Regnault, Gérard and Girodet, and look at the narrow forehead, the
pugnacious upper lip, the prominent cheek-bones, the deep-sunk eye and
the bushy eyebrows of Ingres’ figure, we may begin to understand
that the gulf which yawns between the two kinds of Idealism--the
abstract idealism of the Davidian school and the concrete idealism of
Ingres--is quite as wide and impassable as that which separates them
both from Romanticism and Naturalism.

    [Illustration: PLATE V.--M. BERTIN

    (In the Louvre)

    This portrait represents the famous “Bertin ainé, the director
    of the _Journal des Débats_.” It is signed “J. Ingres, pinxit
    1832,” and was exhibited at the Salon of 1833.]

The “Œdipus” was followed, in 1808, by the “Seated Bather” (now in
the Louvre); in 1811, by “Jupiter and Thétis” (now at the Museum of
Aix), a curiously Flaxman-like design; in 1812, by the “Dream of
Ossian” (now at Montauban); and in 1814, by a scene of real life, “The
Pope officiating among the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel” (now in
the Louvre). In this marvellous picture the artist has for once
avoided the painful task of invention which he habitually imposed upon
himself. He abandoned himself completely to the imperious suggestion
of what was actually before his eyes. The truth, life, and richness of
colour and tone of this little picture have led some of his recent
admirers to speak of it as the most complete and perfectly balanced of
all the artist’s works.

The “Grande Odalisque,” exhibited at the Salon of 1819, but painted in
1814, brought to a close for the time the admirable series of nude
female figures which the artist had begun during his first years in
Rome. His wonderful sketches of the “Venus Anadyomene” and the
“Source” had already been painted, but the canvases remained
unfinished in his studio, the first till 1848, the second till 1858.

His love of female beauty reveals itself again in the principal figure
of the picture he sent to the Salon in 1819. This was the “Roger
delivering Angelica,” a scene borrowed from the tenth song of
Ariosto’s “Roland Furieux.” The picture is now in the Louvre. The
young knight, mounted on a hippogriff, pierces with his lance a marine
monster who was about to devour the beautiful young woman who is
chained to the rocks. The figure of the young knight, his curious
steed, and the strange monster which is being killed, provoked the
anger and ridicule of the Academic party. In its quaint details the
influence of Perugino and of the earlier Florentine and Tuscan
painters was clearly noticeable. This was one of the first signs in
nineteenth-century art of the Gothic revival and of that stream of
tendency which came afterwards to be described as pre-Raphaelitism.
The epithet “Gothic” was freely used as a term of reproach against
Ingres’ picture. But the lovely figure of Angelica was a distinct
creation of the painter’s own genius.

In the “Francesca da Rimini” of the same year (now in the Museum of
Angers) the same pre-Raphaelite tendencies are even more strongly
pronounced. The figures of the two lovers might easily have been
designed by Rossetti or Madox Brown.

       *       *       *       *       *

All these works in which the master’s genius had approved itself with
so much originality and fire had left their author to vegetate in
poverty and obscurity, while the mediocrities around him had risen
rapidly towards fortune and celebrity. Ingres was now anxious to
return to Paris, but his meagre resources would not allow it. Then,
tired of his hardships, and feeling that the social atmosphere of Rome
was not favourable to him, he rejoined his friend Bartolini at
Florence, hoping thus, among new surroundings, to re-establish his
compromised career. His hopes were falsified. The four years passed in
Florence (1820-1824) brought him only a fresh supply of hardships and
mortifications. Less hospitable than Rome, Florence brought him only
two commissions for portraits, those of M. and Mme. Leblanc
(1823-1824); but it was here that he met M. de Pastoret, who was
instrumental in getting him the commission which brought the artist
his first striking and definitive success. M. de Pastoret was so
pleased with Ingres’ “Entry of Charles V. into Paris” (painted in
1821) that he obtained for him a commission from the Minister of the
Interior for a large picture of “The Vow of Louis XIII.” for the
Cathedral of Montauban. This was begun in Florence in 1821 and
finished in 1824, in which year it figured in the Salon of Paris. It
was one of his pictures with which Ingres was most satisfied. It is
also one of the first in which the influence of Raphael, which was to
play such a large part in all his future work, is conspicuous. In a
letter written in 1821, Ingres said that he was sparing no pains to
make the picture “Raphaelesque and his own.” There is really more of
Raphael in it than Ingres. The general arrangement of the design
reminds one at once of Raphael’s “Transfiguration,” “The Sistine
Madonna,” and the “Mass of Bolsena.” The figure of the Madonna is a
sort of amalgam of Raphael’s various Madonnas. There is also an
evident want of faith and religious enthusiasm in the picture. It
marked the subjection of the artist to the Academical party which he
had fought till then with so much violence and bitterness. The public
which had frowned upon his vigorously personal and original works
hailed this able imitation with enthusiasm. The master’s period of
probation was at an end, and he returned in triumph to Paris to become
the leader of the Academic party against the rising tide of

Ingres’ life was henceforward free from the material cares which had
hampered his early career. The Parisians declared that such a picture
as the “Vow of Louis XIII.” was too good to be buried in the
provinces. The State wanted to retain it for Notre Dame or
Val-de-Grace, and offered the artist a much larger sum of money for it
than had been agreed upon. But Ingres refused these flattering offers.
He was determined that Montauban should have it as an offering of his
filial affection. The picture was taken there from Paris. The artist
was entertained at a banquet given by the Municipality. Flattering
speeches were made, and the artist departed with the cheers of his
admirers ringing in his ears. And then the Archbishop, objecting to
the nakedness of the infant Jesus and the two amorini holding the
tablet, refused to permit the picture to be brought into the
Cathedral. The artist’s friends were indignant; Ingres himself was
furious. But prayers and threats could not move the Archbishop. It was
only when large gilt fig-leaves had been placed to cover up the
innocent nakedness of the charming little figures that he would allow
the canvas to be hung in his church.

In 1824 Ingres was nominated Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. In
1825 he was elected to the Institute. Charles X. commissioned him
to paint his portrait in the royal robes, and to decorate one of the
ceilings of the Louvre. At the end of 1829 he was made professor at
the École des Beaux-arts.

    [Illustration: PLATE VI.--CHÉRUBINI

    (In the Louvre)

    This “portrait picture” was begun in Rome in 1839, but was only
    finished in Paris in 1842. The painter’s first intention was to
    represent only the figure of Chérubini, but afterwards he had
    the canvas enlarged to make room behind the musician for the
    figure of the “Muse of lyrical poetry, mother of the sacred
    hymns.” It is doubtful whether this addition is an improvement.]

“The Apotheosis of Homer,” the subject chosen for the Louvre ceiling,
was begun and finished within the short space of a single year. The
amount of work involved in making the preparatory studies and carrying
through a work of such importance was enormous, and Ingres had never
before displayed so much energy and decision. The conception of the
picture was a noble one. It was to represent the spiritual ties which
bind one generation of human beings to the other; to insist on the
debt which each worker in the field of art and thought owes to his
predecessors; to celebrate the real immortality of genius by showing
the incessant action which it exerts on all the individuals who are
successively born and developed by its influence. We must confess that
Ingres has found a worthy plastic formula to express his highly
abstract conception. He shows us the poets, painters, sculptors,
philosophers, and great patrons of the arts grouped round the seat of
the old blind poet. Each individual face, each gesture and pose, has
been studied and thought out patiently, and executed with masterly
skill. The terrible problem of grouping together so many different
personalities and so many costumes of widely differing periods has
been faced and overcome. The whole produces an effect of incomparable
simplicity and grandeur.

In no part of the pictures are Ingres’ marvellous powers of
realisation more clearly displayed than in the three purely
symbolical figures of the Winged Victory who places the crown of gold
upon the forehead of the poet, and those representing the _Odyssey_
and the _Iliad_ who sit at his feet. What a distance separates these
figures, full of feminine charm and of exuberant life, from the cold
allegories of the other painters of his time! Look at the queenly
grace of the Victory; the disdainful lips, the contracted nostrils of
the proud woman, with hands nervously crossed upon her knee, who sits
on the poet’s right; and the dreamer who sits on his left, with her
mantle wrapped round her, her hand upon her chin, her half-closed eyes
dreaming of the far-away adventures of Ulysses.

This picture remained in the place for which it was destined for about
twenty years. Then it was replaced by an excellent copy made by three
of the master’s pupils, Dumas and the brothers Baize, and the
original was hung in the Louvre, where it could be better seen and
admired by the public and more carefully studied by the painters.

Such a display of his powers disarmed even the many enemies which
Ingres had made. But the artist was never satisfied. He thought he had
not attained the supreme and definitive expression of his genius. He
thought he could do better, that he could express himself with more
force, more persuasive energy and warmth, in his next work. This was a
religious scene commissioned for the Cathedral of Autun--the
“Martyrdom of St. Symphorian.”

Before this work was finished he painted yet another of those superb
portraits which he himself professed to regard as a waste of time, but
which posterity values more highly than the allegorical and religious
subjects to which he devoted himself with such fierce energy and
consuming ardour. This was the portrait of “Bertin ainé,” which was
exhibited at the Salon of 1833, and is now in the Louvre. The old man,
with turbulent grey hair, with keen penetrating eyes, with wary mouth,
seated so squarely in his chair with his hands on his knees--the whole
bodily and spiritual presence of the man is placed so vividly upon the
canvas that we seem to know him more intimately than we know our

After being repainted several times, the “Martyrdom of St Symphorian”
was exhibited at the Salon the year after the portrait of M. Bertin
had appeared there. Instead of bringing Ingres a more complete victory
than his “Homer,” it brought him an unexpected check. To us, living as
we do in a perfect anarchy of taste, it is rather difficult to
understand why this picture should have scandalised and alarmed the
artists and public of the time. The artist was accused of
exaggeration, of an abuse of power. Since Michael Angelo they had
never seen in painting such muscles as those of the arms and legs of
the lictors who are taking the saint to his place of torture. The
whole effect, Ingres’ critics said, was forced and improbable. They
did not understand that the artist had deliberately intended to force
the contrast between the bestiality of the murderers and the moral
superiority of their victim.

In spite of its want of atmosphere and other shortcomings, the picture
is a moving and impressive one. There is nothing vulgar in those too
robust figures. The face of the young martyr, illuminated with faith,
and the fanatical exaltation of the mother, form the two moral centres
of the drama. Between them the curiosity and emotion of the crowd are
divided. Some gaze in stupor at this woman who sends her son to
torture. They do not understand that she sees him already in glory,
crowned with celestial beatitudes. Others are indignant with her, like
the young man who picks up a stone to throw at her, or like the
soldier behind the centurion who turns towards her a face full of
astonishment and irritation. A young woman presses her child in her
arms in shuddering protestation. Others look at the man who is about
to die for his faith. Their sentiments oscillate between hostility,
compassion, indifference, and horror. The women are grieved. An old
man takes his head in his hands, confounded by such inconceivable
folly. And, dominating them all, the centurion on horseback gives the
order to march to the place of execution.

The learned construction of such a crowded scene, the nobility and
expressiveness of the figures, the fine treatment of drapery, the
virile energy of the drawing, the sober and restrained colouring, and,
above all, that indefinable beauty which genius stamps on all its
creations, might well have silenced the adverse criticisms with which
the artists and the public assailed this picture.

Ingres suffered from these criticisms to a quite unreasonable extent.
“I do not belong to this apostate century,” he exclaimed. He could not
understand people’s objections, nothing could console him, and he
cursed his epoch and the injustice of the public. He swore he would
never exhibit at the Salon again. He wished to flee from Paris. He
accepted as a deliverance the appointment of Director of the Academy
of France in Rome, shut his studio, dismissed his pupils, and with an
indignant and bitter spirit he quitted Paris again for the Eternal

    [Illustration: PLATE VII.--LE DUC D’ORLÉANS

    (Musée de Versailles)

    This grave and dignified portrait of the Duke of Orleans was
    ordered by the King in 1842. It is remarkable for the minuteness
    and care with which all the details of the uniform and the
    accessories are rendered.]

But if Ingres doubted of human justice, he never doubted about his
art. He devoted himself to it with renewed passion and enthusiasm.
“The day I quitted Paris,” he wrote to one of his friends, “I broke
for ever with everything that has to do with the public. Henceforth I
will paint entirely for myself. I belong at last to myself, and I will
belong only to myself.”

But, as a fact, neither Ingres’ influence nor prestige suffered from
the want of success of his “St. Symphorian.” As director of the French
Academy at Rome he remained the guide, counsellor, and example of all
the young talents of his time. His proud ideal could not fail to
attract the enthusiasm of his younger contemporaries. His teaching and
example were helpful to others besides the painters. What was
essential in his doctrines was applicable to all the arts: to music,
which moved him so profoundly; and to sculpture--for did he not use
his pencil and brush like a chisel?

Official favour also followed him in his angry retreat. The Duke of
Orleans ordered a small historical picture from him, which gave him an
immense deal of trouble but was at the same time a source of glorious
compensation. He produced “Stratonice,” one of the most successful of
his works.

The tragedy of which Stratonice was the heroine had haunted his
imagination for years. He had meditated long on the subject, but had
always conceived the picture on a large scale. Unfortunately, the
picture had to be the same size as Paul Delaroche’s “Death of the Duke
of Guise,” to which it was to serve as pendant, and Ingres was
constrained to transform his grandiose conception into a miniature.
Ingres took six years to paint what he called his “grand historical
miniature.” And it is to be somewhat regretted that in his anxiety for
archæological exactitude he invited the collaboration of the architect
Hittorf. Hittorf was full of his rather excessive theories about the
polychromatic architecture of the ancients. He imposed his ideas so
completely on the unfortunate artist that he was permitted to paint
the background of the picture. Hence the debauch of local colour, of
coloured mosaics and bronzes, which threatens almost to swamp the
figures. And what is worse, later archæologists have not failed to
discover flaws in the pedantic architect’s too insistent
details--strange anachronisms like that of placing well-known
Pompeiian frescoes on the walls of the palace of Antiochus, together
with motives borrowed from Greek vases at least four hundred years
earlier in date. The example of this picture has had an important
effect on the French school.

But in spite of these defects, the picture imposes itself on the
imagination. The hopeless tragedy of the situation is admirably
expressed without a trace of theatrical exaggeration. We see a young
man, suffering from a grave and mysterious malady, extended upon his
bed of suffering. The physician called in by his despairing father
stands beside him and examines him. The father himself, overcome with
grief, bows his head over his son’s couch. At this moment in the
chamber of death a young woman enters. She is young, charming, and
melancholy. She is the second wife of the heart-broken father, the
mother-in-law of the dying son. And as she walks through the room with
languishing steps the physician guesses the horrible truth. The man on
the bed is dying of love. By signs which cannot deceive him, the man
of science has divined the dreadful passion of the son for his
father’s wife. Such was, in fact, the history of Stratonice. The
second wife of Seleucus Nicanor was loved by Antiochus, the king’s son
by his first marriage. The doctor, Erasistratus, having surprised this
secret, declared that the young man would certainly die if Stratonice
was not given to him, and his father’s love was great enough to
enable him to make this sacrifice.

No other artist than Ingres could have placed this poignant drama on
canvas without exciting ridicule. “Stratonice” was exhibited by the
Duke of Orleans in one of the galleries of the Pavilion of Marsan, and
the public were freely admitted to see it. All the visitors were
enchanted with it. The dramatic character of the subject was not
displeasing to the Parisian public, and the artists admired the
delicate taste, the pathetic grace, and the impeccable style of the
workmanship. Above all, the charm of the _svelte_ and supple figure of
the heroine, her head bowed under the weight of her culpable beauty,
touched all hearts.

Another small picture, known indifferently as “The Odalisque with the
Slave” or the “Small Odalisque,” was finished about the same time as
the “Stratonice.” This was painted for the artist’s friend M.
Marcotte, but is now in the Louvre. In the “Odalisque” as in the
“Stratonice” we find a profusion of the details dear to Hittorf, but
the figure of the beautiful Circassian curled up on the rich carpet of
the harem is a masterpiece of plastic form. In this lovely body the
artist has symbolised something of that perverse melancholy, that
dangerous voluptuousness, which has found such moving expression in
some of Baudelaire’s poems.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the spring of 1841 Ingres returned to Paris. He found his
reputation increased by the success of the “Stratonice.” His brother
artists hailed him as their leader. A banquet was offered to him by
all the artists present in the capital, painters, sculptors, and
architects, the only prominent absentee being Eugène Delacroix, the
leader of the Romantics. Delacroix did not wish to participate in the
triumph of his rival, and this triumph, so unanimously accorded, only
served to widen the breach between the two masters. Henceforth the
struggle between them became more bitter. Each party pursued the other
without mercy, neither disdaining to use any kind of weapon that came
to hand.

Fortified by the homage offered to him, Ingres returned to his work
with renewed ardour. The King asked him to paint a portrait of the
Duke of Orleans, and Ingres, grateful for the Duke’s kindness with
regard to the “Stratonice,” took much more pains over this portrait
than he usually took with commissions of this kind. This was the last
male portrait that Ingres painted, with the exception of a small
monochrome medallion of the Prince Jéròme Napoléon, which he executed
in 1855. But, on the other hand, he became the favourite painter of
the exalted dames of the Monarchy of July and of the Second Empire,
though very much against his will, for he regarded portrait-painting
as a waste of time, and wished to devote himself entirely to his grand
historical and religious compositions. Nevertheless, he painted some
fine portraits of beautiful women--Madame d’Haussonville in 1845,
Madame Frédéric Reisat in 1846, Madame James de Rothschild in 1848,
Madame Gonse and Madame Moitessier in 1852, the Princess de Broglie in
1853, a second half-length portrait (the first was a full-length) of
Madame Moitessier in 1856, and finally, in 1859, that of his second

    [Illustration: PLATE VIII.--JEANNE D’ARC

    (In the Louvre)

    The picture of “Joan of Arc assisting at the Consecration of
    Charles VII. in the Cathedral of Reims” was painted for the
    gallery of Versailles, but is now in the Louvre. It is signed
    “J. Ingres, 1854.” The figure, the maid’s squire, standing
    immediately behind the kneeling priest, is said to be a portrait
    of the artist himself.]

Soon after the portrait of the Duke of Orleans was finished he
received another royal commission, the “Jesus among the Doctors,”
which the Queen Marie-Amélie wished to present to the Château de Bizy.
The work, badly conceived at the beginning, was still unfinished when
the Revolution drove from France the patroness who had commissioned
it. It remained almost forgotten in a corner of the artist’s studio
till 1862, when Ingres decided to finish it and present it to the
museum of his natal city. Of all Ingres’ productions, it is perhaps
the only one where the inspiration and execution both seem feeble.

While he had been still in Rome, in 1839, Ingres had received from the
Duc de Luynes a commission to decorate the great room at the Château
of Dampierre with two large mural paintings representing “The Age of
Gold” and “The Age of Iron.” He was delighted with the commission, as
he was always dreaming of reviving the great traditions of decorative
painting. He made numberless studies for these subjects, many of them
among the most beautiful of his drawings. But as the painting had to
be done actually on the walls at Dampierre, the work progressed very
slowly. Years flew by, and the artist’s enthusiasm cooled. The noble
Duke and the sensitive and proud painter could not get along well
under the same roof. Ingres thought himself slighted on one occasion
(in 1850) and brusquely threw up the commission, leaving his work
unfinished. There exists of this gigantic work only a sketch at
Dampierre, an infinite number of drawings at the Museum of Montauban,
and a little painting executed from these drawings in 1862, a very
feeble representation of what the definitive work would have been. As
for “The Age of Iron,” we have only the preliminary studies.

       *       *       *       *       *

As if to revenge himself for the loss of his promised masterpiece,
Ingres now took up again a number of the works he had sketched in his
youth and set himself to finish them or repaint them. He also busied
himself painting replicas of others which had passed out of his hands
but with which he was not entirely satisfied. He painted thus a
repetition of the “Apotheosis of Homer,” adding a number of fresh
figures and substituting others for some of the poets and artists of
his first choice. After much anxious reflection and discussion with
his pupils, he decided to banish Shakespeare, as he had already
banished Goethe, from the group of the immortals. He also painted
replicas of his “Sistine Chapel,” of “Roger delivering Angelica,” and
variations of his “Œdipus” and “Stratonice.” He also painted four
or five slightly different versions of the figure of the Virgin in his
early picture of the “Vow of Louis XIII.” One of these developed into
a picture of “The Virgin between St. Nicholas and St. Alexander”--a
subject the Emperor of Russia had asked him to treat. We find another
version of the same type in “The Virgin with the Host,” which forms
one of our illustrations. In no other work of Ingres is his passionate
admiration of Raphael more clearly displayed.

One of the new works which caused the liveliest sensation was “The
Birth of Venus” or “Venus Anadyomene.” This had been begun forty years
before, at the time of the early “Bathers” and “Odalisque.” The
beautiful white body of the goddess detaches itself from the
harmonious blue of the sea and sky, and groups of amorini flutter
round and caress her youthful form. One of these delicious attendants
offers her a mirror, another kisses the feet of the young goddess,
while a third embraces her knees. It would be difficult to imagine
anything more graciously tender or more natural than the infantile

The “Venus Anadyomene” was finished in 1848; in 1851 Ingres painted
his “Jupiter and Antiope,” and two years later he painted his
“Apotheosis of Napoleon I.,” a large subject for the decoration of one
of the ceilings of the Hôtel de Ville, at Paris. This was
unfortunately destroyed by fire in the troubled days of the Commune in
1871. In 1854 his “Joan of Arc assisting at the Consecration of
Charles VII.” was painted for the gallery of Versailles.

We have now reached the last years of the artist’s laborious life.
They were as busy as his earlier years, but they were crowned with
honour and glory. In 1855 all Europe flocked to Paris to see the
Universal Exhibition. The life-work of Ingres was gathered together in
a special gallery. It produced an immense impression. All criticisms
of detail fell before the magnificent affirmation of the artist’s
individual ideal. One of the grand medals was given to him by the
unanimous votes of the artists, and the Emperor made him an officer of
the Legion of Honour.

Then, in the following year, as if to crown his career by the
evocation of a supreme masterpiece, Ingres finished the “Source,” a
subject which had been begun at the same time as the “Venus
Anadyomene.” This beautiful figure was not a passing vision which had
animated the brush of the aged painter; it was indeed the daughter of
his dreams, an emanation of his own soul, the slow growth of long
meditations, and which, at last, incarnated itself in an immortal
form. This calm and adorable figure seems a souvenir of our long-lost
innocence. That is perhaps why we love it so, and why we bless the
artist to whom we owe this divine dream.

Ingres died in 1867. He had finished his task, had spoken the last
word of his austere but profoundly human genius.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ingres has been spoken of as an ancient Greek lost and bewildered in
our modern times. Such a view of his character is misleading. Like all
the great creators, he expressed the aspirations of his race and his
times. He was not only the child of his century and his country, but
he represented them both in their classic reaction and in their
impulse towards Romanticism. But the two tendencies were so nicely
balanced in his temperament that he offended the extremists of both
parties. He paid in his lifetime for his detachment from parties, for
his exalted aims and sublime courage, but he reaps his reward from
posterity. The creator of the immortal figures of Œdipus, the
Odalisque, Angelica, Stratonice, and the Source to-day takes
unquestioned rank among the great masters not only of French but of
European art.


The authoritative French accounts of Ingres’ life and work (from which
the foregoing sketch has been compiled) are:--

    _Comte Henri Delaborde._--Ingres, sa vie, ses travaux, sa
    doctrine (1870).

    _Charles Blanc._--Ingres (1870).

    _Henry Lapauze._--L’Œuvre de Ingres (in “Melanges sur l’Art
    Français,” 1905).

    _Jules Momméja._--Ingres (“Les Grands Artistes” series).

    _T. de Wyzewa._--L’Œuvre peint de Jean-Dominique Ingres

    _Boyer d’Agen._--Ingres d’apres une Correspondence inédite

      The plates are printed by BEMROSE & SONS, LTD., Derby and London
               The text at the BALLANTYNE PRESS, Edinburgh

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