Graphite. Signed and dated lower left: Ingres/1830.
269 x 212 mm; 10 ½ x 8 3/8 in.
Private collection, France, purchased in the early 20th Century, then by descent.
A student of Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres won the Prix de Rome in 1801 but due to a lack of government funding he was unable to take up his scholarship at the Académie de France in Rome until 1806. Although his pension expired in 1810, he remained in Rome for a further ten years. The city was at this time ruled by the French, and he received several important official commissions. With the French withdrawal from Rome in March 1814 and the fall of Napoleon, Ingres turned to making portrait drawings of French and foreign visitors to the city. These pencil portraits, drawn with minute detail as autonomous works of art, proved extremely popular and served to secure his livelihood. In 1820 he received a commission for a large canvas of The Vow of Louis XIII, intended for the cathedral of his native Montauban. Painted in Florence, where he spent four years, and sent to Paris to be exhibited at the Salon of 1824, it won Ingres considerable praise and established his reputation as a painter. He then spent a period of ten years in Paris, consolidating his reputation as a history painter and undertaking portrait commissions but the venomous criticism of his painting The Martyrdom of St. Symphorien, commissioned for the cathedral at Autun and shown at the Salon of 1834, led directly to his departure from Paris and the opportune appointment as director of the Académie de France in Rome. Ingres remained in the post until his final return to France in 1842. The last fifteen years of his career saw him firmly established as a highly respected figure in artistic circles, and one of the foremost artists in France. For many years an influential professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Ingres received the honour of a retrospective exhibition at the Exposition Universelle of 1855. At his death, Ingres left a huge collection of his studio work comprising nearly 4,000 drawings to the museum of his birthplace, Montauban, thereby illustrating his belief that ‘the drawing is three fourths and a half of what constitutes painting’.1
The sitter in this portrait is identified by an inscription on the old frame, la Marquise de Beaumont and portrays a certain Anne Armande Antoinette Hue de Miromesnil (1766 – 1830), wife of the Marquis André de Beaumont (1761 -1838), who inherited the title from his father, Anne-Claude de Beaumont. The drawing was made in the year that she died.
The portrait has much in common with others realised by Ingres at this time, for example, that of Madame Jean-Baptiste Lepère in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, again dated 1830, that of Madame Chantal Marcotte, in a private collection, dated 18342 and another, as here, previously unpublished portrait, of Madame Godinot, her hair similarly dressed, from 18293. In the present work, the Marquise is dressed with great care, with puffed sleeves and a frilly indoor day cap and bonnet. The belt and hat are of a similar design to those depicted in the portrait of Madame Ingres in the Musée Ingres, Montauban, dated 18354. As with many of Ingres’s portrait drawings, it is the face which is the true focus of his attention; here the folds, pleats and tucks of the Marquise’s voluminous dress are described rapidly in long, curving lines while her elaborately curled hair and fine features are defined with subtle and precise modelling, the expression – a slight smile and thoughtful eyes - is defined with great sensitivity. The Marquise sits against pillows, her hands gently clasped and perhaps the deep-set eyes and thin face, delicate against the huge bonnet, are signs of her fading health.
These years were significant for being a period in which Ingres’s reputation was particularly high for portraiture; those he exhibited at the Salon were generally very well received, although sometimes controversial; for example his 1832 portrait of Louis-François Bertin, now in the Louvre, greatly affected people with its realism but numerous critics deplored it5. Ingres himself regarded portraiture as a ‘cursed’6 activity, ‘Maudits portraits!’4, taking away precious time from history painting but the portrait drawings, which served the purpose of earning him a living, are now arguably his most loved works, and in the words of Hans Naef, ‘one of the most glorious chapters in his career’.
Letter written in 1807, see H. Lapauze, Le Roman d’amour de M. Ingres, Paris, 1910, pp.170-171.
See Hans Naef, Die Bildniszeichnungen von J.-A.-D. Ingres, vol. V, Bern 1977, cat.337 and 348.
See exhibition catalogue, Portraits by Ingres, Image of an Epoch, London and New York, 1999-2000, cat.106.
See Hans Naef, op. cit., cat 363.
See exhibition catalogue, op. cit., 1999-2000, p.304.
See exhibition catalogue, op. cit., 1999-2000, p.423, note.16.
See Hans Naef, ‘Ingres' Portrait Drawings of English Sitters in Rome’ The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 98, No. 645 (Dec., 1956), p.427.