Drawing is not just reproducing contours, it is not just the line; drawing is also the expression, the inner form, the composition, the modelling. See what is left after that. Drawing is seven eighths of what makes up painting.
— Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Birthday to Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres born on this day in 1780 - who worshiped Raphael and his teacher David, and was in turn worshiped by none other than grumpy Degas, who collected his drawings. All he wanted was to be the painter of histories in grand manner of David and the keeper of Classicism against the Romantic current of Delacroix that he abhorred; instead he was constantly criticized by not only contemporary art critics but by David himself - his painting constantly being called “Gothic” and were, ironically, liked only by the Romantics. Thus he vowed never to return to France or exhibit at Salon again; of course, he eventually did both and spent the last 25 years of his life in France quite successful; but before that he did spend quite long time in Rome, especially during his younger years, depending almost entirely on drawing portraits of tourists that came to Italy. These are the ones I decided to share today :)
There are about 450 of these drawings that Degas admired so much in existence today; tourists - mainly the English on their Grand Tour through Italy - would come to his door asking Is this where the man who draws the little portraits lives? much to Ingres’ dismay; No, the man who lives here is a painter !he would answer, but then would still agree to take their commission because they were his only source of income. Most usually he would go to lunch with them, so they would relax and he could catch a glimpse of their true character. Even after becoming all that he yearned to be as a painter, in his time as well as now, his portraits were regarded as his true masterpieces, painted or drawn. The ones that he did in Rome are particularly interesting because of the chosen background - usually St. Peter’s basilica or some other famous scenery - not unlike the places people choose today when getting photographed. Very similar also to why I mentioned yesterday Goethe took artists with him through his Italian journey - it was the only way then to get some journey memorabilia.
Ingres never stopped drawing portraits and these I share today are not just those from his years in Rome; my favourites are many but perhaps the two I love the most are the one of Niccolò Paganini, who was his friend and with whom he played Beethoven string quartets; and that of the young Franz Liszt who thought Ingres’ playing was charming and had intended to play Mozart and Beethoven violin sonatas with him :) Ingres did learn to play the violin as a child and played passionately throughout his life; some say that he loved it even more than painting itself. That is why there is an expression violon d’Ingres meaning the second skill of a person. Other than these two I also love the portrait of his first wife Madeleine Chapelle whom he proposed to without ever meeting her :) On his friends’ recommendation Ingres started a correspondence with Madelaine which then soon turned to courtship; he then proposed and she accepted :) It was an unusually happy marriage that lasted until her death in 1840s. Before all this Ingres was in fact engaged to a woman he had seen and which was a painter and musician, but the engagement was broken after he decided never to return to Paris in 1806, just at the beginning of his career, when he was scorned for the first time at The Salon. This woman never married someone else - she said : When one has had the honor of being engaged to M. Ingres, one does not marry. ;)
Happy Birthday, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres !