More about Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Works by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres loved nudity and hated Delacroix. Maybe he should have tried mixing the two?
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was a man of many loves. He loved the classics: from 1801's Achilles Receiving the Envoys of Agamemnon I, painted when he was a mere twenty-one years old, all the way to 1864's Oedipus and the Sphinx, completed three years before his death, Ingres remained a dyed-in-the-wool Neoclassicist, infatuated with and dedicated to the portrayal of figures from Greek and Roman legends. He loved the violin: besides his long and storied career as an artist he was also a dedicated fiddler, to the point that in France “le violon d'Ingres” came to mean any hobby one had separate from one's career. He loved drawing and composition: to Ingres color was merely a tool to accentuate the lines he'd drawn, and he'd often wait so long to get to the actual “painting” part that models sometimes had to leave bits of their clothes with him so he could remember what they looked like.
That last detail worked out well for Ingres, because he also loved nudity. Holy living hell did he love nudity. Loved it loved it loved it. The au naturelle look has always been a staple of Neoclassical painting, but Ingres elevated nudity to an art form all its own, putting naked figures in the middle of stories where clothing really would have made a lot more sense (presumably the Greek soldiers wore armor at least a couple times during the Trojan War, and though there are definitely stories about Oedipus getting naked in unfortunate circumstances he probably restrained himself in front of the flesh-eating Sphinx). When he did depict fully-clothed people it was generally in commissioned portraits of the aristocracy; as the models in those cases were also providing his paycheck Ingres seems to have thought better of asking to draw their butts.
But it wasn't all love and nudity in Jean-Auguste-Dominique's life, as the public had a decidedly mixed reaction to Ingres's body of work. Though he won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1801, critics frequently gave him a harsh reception—he was often called out for “bizarre” and “gothic” tendencies in his art, and an 1806 exhibition of his work received such terrible reviews that Ingres vowed to leave Paris and never return. Though he continued to send work home it would be twenty years before critical opinion softened and Ingres was elected to the Academy of Fine Arts, proving that if you're stubborn enough for a long enough time eventually people will decide it's easier to just declare you a genius and be done with it so you'll stop making a scene.
Ingres's greatest feud, however, wasn't with the critics. As much as he adored the precise, exacting Neoclassical style he despised the passionate messiness of the burgeoning Romantic movement, and none embodied that style more for Ingres than contemporary painter and fellow-first-name-enthusiast Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix. The two were polar opposites on just about every art-related issue you could choose—just compare Delacroix's St. George Fighting the Dragon with Ingres's Ruggiero Freeing Angelica for a look at their wildly different takes on monster-slaying—and neither was quiet about his disdain for the other's techniques. Still, Ingres came across as more bothered by Delacroix than vice-versa, famously approaching the other man at a party and getting so worked up that he spilled his coffee all over himself, then proclaiming that he refused to be insulted any further and storming out before Delacroix could say much of anything. Which sure showed him.
Ingres died at the ripe old age of 86, which in the 1800s probably seemed like some kind of miracle, and as he was married to a woman 30 years his junior and had outlived Delacroix by four years he probably went out feeling pretty good about himself. In 1980 he appeared on a postage stamp in the USSR, because apparently nobody told the Soviet Postmaster General who Rublev and Kandinsky were.
Here is what Wikipedia says about Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (/ /, ANG-grə, French: [ʒɑ̃ oɡyst dɔminik ɛ̃ɡʁ]; 29 August 1780 – 14 January 1867) was a French Neoclassical painter. Ingres was profoundly influenced by past artistic traditions and aspired to become the guardian of academic orthodoxy against the ascendant Romantic style. Although he considered himself a painter of history in the tradition of Nicolas Poussin and Jacques-Louis David, it is his portraits, both painted and drawn, that are recognized as his greatest legacy. His expressive distortions of form and space made him an important precursor of modern art, influencing Picasso, Matisse and other modernists.
Born into a modest family in Montauban, he travelled to Paris to study in the studio of David. In 1802 he made his Salon debut, and won the Prix de Rome for his painting The Ambassadors of Agamemnon in the tent of Achilles. By the time he departed in 1806 for his residency in Rome, his style—revealing his close study of Italian and Flemish Renaissance masters—was fully developed, and would change little for the rest of his life. While working in Rome and subsequently Florence from 1806 to 1824, he regularly sent paintings to the Paris Salon, where they were faulted by critics who found his style bizarre and archaic. He received few commissions during this period for the history paintings he aspired to paint, but was able to support himself and his wife as a portrait painter and draughtsman.
He was finally recognized at the Salon in 1824, when his Raphaelesque painting, The Vow of Louis XIII, was met with acclaim, and Ingres was
acknowledged as the leader of the Neoclassical school in France. Although the income from commissions for history paintings allowed him to paint fewer portraits, his Portrait of Monsieur Bertin marked his next popular success in 1833. The following year, his indignation at the harsh criticism of his ambitious composition The Martyrdom of Saint Symphorian caused him to return to Italy, where he assumed directorship of the French Academy in Rome in 1835. He returned to Paris for good in 1841. In his later years he painted new versions of many of his earlier compositions, a series of designs for stained glass windows, several important portraits of women, and The Turkish Bath, the last of his several Orientalist paintings of the female nude, which he finished at the age of 83.
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