Artworks
The Apotheosis of Homer

Contributor

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ The Apotheosis of Homer is the most lit group of artists, poets, and philosophers of all time.

Ingres was commissioned to make this piece as a ceiling decoration for the Musée Charles X, which is now the Egyptian Rooms of the Louvre. Despite all of the incredible detail that went into this work, it took only a year to complete. I’ve had dirty socks in my laundry for longer than that. It was rumored that Ingres got boils from the stress of making this artwork – Ingres was quite the perfectionist – but what’s a boil compared to the creation of a masterpiece? It’s a classic now, but this work didn’t go over well when Ingres presented it at the Salon in 1827. It was removed from the ceiling of the Louvre just under 30 years later in 1855. We can only imagine how Ingres, who was sensitive, egotistical, and arrogant, took this news. If only he could see how much we love and appreciate him now!

This painting was modeled after Raphael’s The School of Athens but does one step better by including famous literary and artistic figures. It depicts some of the most incredible figures in history and mythology. First and foremost is Homer, obviously, who is sitting in the middle being deified. Below him on the steps in the red and green togas are the representations of the "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" respectively. The goddess crowning Homer is Nike, and dispersed amongst the crowd is Michelangelo, Raphael, Dante, Phidias, Poussin, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Virgil, Sophocles, Orpheus, Hesiod, Molière, William Shakespeare, Aesop, Alexander the Great, and even Ingres himself. It’s almost as if Ingres was asked the standard question, “who, alive or dead, would you want to have dinner with and why?” and just never stopped thinking about his answer until this painting came out.

Sources

Sources

  1. Harris, Dr. Beth and Dr. Steven Zucker. “Ingres, Apotheosis of Homer.” Accessed November 7, 2018. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/becoming-modern/romanticism/roman...
  2. “Homer Deified, also known as The Apotheosis of Homer.” The Louvre. Accessed November 11, 2018. https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/homer-deified-also-known-apotheo...
  3. Michael Kimmelman. “ART REVIEW; Ingres: An Icy Eye for People” last modified October 8, 1999. https://www.nytimes.com/1999/10/08/arts/art-review-ingres-an-icy-eye-for...
  4. Russell, John. “ART REVIEW; Portraits of Intelligence, Recognizable in Any Era” last modified February 11, 2000. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/11/arts/art-review-portraits-of-intellig...

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Here is what Wikipedia says about The Apotheosis of Homer (Ingres)

The Apotheosis of Homer is a grand 1827 painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, now exhibited at the Louvre as INV 5417. The symmetrical composition depicts Homer being crowned by a winged figure personifying Victory or the Universe. Forty-four additional figures pay homage to the poet in a kind of classical confession of faith.

History

A state commission to decorate a ceiling of the musée Charles X at the Louvre (now the ancient Egyptian galleries), it formed part of a renovation project commissioned by Charles X to have himself remembered in the grand tradition of Bourbon building works at the Louvre. A condition of the commission was that it was to be completed within a year's time. Upon receiving the commission, Ingres conceived the idea for his painting quickly—it was a source of pride to him that he had required only an hour to establish the broad outlines of his composition in a sketch. The subsequent care he took in developing his idea is evident in more than 100 drawings and numerous painted sketches for it that survive, in which he fixed the details more and more precisely. Ingres's level of research can be seen in the painting's portrait of Nicolas Poussin, which is directly copied from Poussin's 1650 self-portrait now in the Louvre.

The composition is a symmetrical grouping centred in a classical way in front of an ancient Greek temple. The painting's catalogue entry at the time of its first exhibition described it as "Homer receiving homage from all the great men of Greece, Rome and modern times. The Universe crowns him, Herodotus burns incense. The Iliad and Odyssey sit at his feet."

The final painting's colours are very fresh and clear, giving the impression of fresco. Ingres wished to compete with Raphael through this painting (it is strongly inspired by the Italian artist's Parnassus) and Raphael is to be seen top left (in black and white Renaissance dress), being led by Apelles (in a blue cloak). Other figures shown include Dante who is shown being led by Virgil as in the former's Divine Comedy (extreme left, behind Poussin) and Molière (right, by the feet of the personification of the Odyssey).

The art historian Robert Rosenblum said The Apotheosis of Homer represents "Ingres' most doctrinaire statement of his belief in a hierarchy of timeless values that are based on classical precedent." It is highly successful in its genre, though leaves an impression of coldness, an impression which was reinforced at the time of its production by the exhibition of Delacroix's The Death of Sardanapalus at the same year's Paris Salon. Ingres had been considered revolutionary early in his career, but this contrast now faced off a Romantic renewal under Delacroix against the purest classical tradition as shown by Ingres. The Apotheosis of Homer was taken down from its initial site in 1855 and replaced later that year with a copy by Paul and Raymond Balze (in collaboration with Michel Dumas).

Check out the full Wikipedia article about The Apotheosis of Homer (Ingres).