Wednesday, April 13, 2011

40 Days of Artists: Ingres

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was a student of David's studio before he went on to become another of the greatest Neoclassical masters in the 19th century.  Ingres won the coveted Prix de Rome in 1801, but did not get to travel to Rome until 1807.  In this six-year period, Ingres painted his first portraits of himself and some acquaintances.  Even his early portraits featured some of his trademark qualities of smooth contours and color-handling.
When he finally made it to Rome, Ingres began painting his series of nude portraits, in addition to a few other minor portraits.  The first of his nudes continues to be one of his most well known, and perhaps one of his greatest paintings of all.  It was simply called The Bather, and was painted in 1808.  The natural light and naturalistic texture of the bather's skin makes it Ingres' most striking nude.  Ingres actually incorporated a copy of the figure in a much later painting called The Turkish Bath in 1862.  It was painted with the same warmly saturated color as in The Bather, which makes the figure stand out even more from the rest of the figures, which are painted with a much more muted tone.
Ingres remained in Rome even after his Prix de Rome scholarship ran out, and lived off of a few major commissions, including two for the Palace of Napoleon in Rome.  Ingres moved to Florence in 1820 where he received some influence by Raphael and other Italian Renaissance masters.  Here, he painted his Vow of Louis XIII, in which the influence of these masters comes through.  By the mid 1820s, Ingres was living back in Paris where he worked on two major commissions for the Louvre and the Cathedral of Autun.
Ingres made one more trip to Rome where he stayed for another 7 years until moving permanently back to France.  In the later years of his life, Ingres' wife passed away, but he remarried a few years later.  The Turkish Bath was painted when he was in his early 80s, and is one of his last great paintings.  Ingres died in 1867, and left a large portion of his work to his home town of Montauban, and remain there today in the Musée Ingres.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
The Bather
oil on canvas
146 x 97 cm.

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