Ingres, the artist of harmony who looked at the past and was ahead of his time

the artist of harmony who looked at the past and was ahead of his time

 Rafael was his god and the imprint of his work is present in Picasso, to which he fascinated. Ingres looked at the past but started the modern adventure with a painting of a special originality that is exhibited in the Prado Museum, in the first monograph organized in Spain about the French artist.

With masterpieces that have rarely left France, such as “La gran odalisca” or “The dream of Ossian”, or icons of the portrait genre such as “La countess de Haussonville” or “La señora Moitessier”, the exhibition organized with the collaboration of the AXA Foundation has been possible thanks to important loans from the Louvre Museum and the participation of the Ingres Museum in Montauban.

The exhibition, which will open next Monday Queen Letizia, is composed of more than sixty works that bring the visitor “to one of the highest levels of European painting of the nineteenth,” according to Prado director, Miguel Zugaza, who in his speech had a few words of solidarity with France “in such difficult days for Europeans”.

Vincent Pomarède, of the Louvre Museum and curator of the exhibition together with Carlos G. Navarro, wanted with his selection of works “to discover the public to this immense French artist” and to do it with an idea that is based on insisting that Ingres ” He is not an academic artist. “

He passed through the Academy “but he is not an academicist, he is a passionate who seeks novelty”, who approached in an original way the currents of his time and who recreated in the same way the romantics, realists or classics. “But he is not the neoclassical master who has wanted to present himself in the history of art.”

Ingres was opposed to Delacroix, “both hated each other”, and his reference is Rafael, “who was his god”, although he had a strong relationship with the neoclassical current of Jacques-Louis David. An example of his neoclassical practice is his youthful work “Aquiles receives the ambassadors of Agamemnon”.

From a young age Ingres dedicated himself to making portraits. “He has orders from the big Parisian bourgeoisie”, such as the portrait of “Mrs. Riviere”, in which the perfect and detailed drawing of the jewels and furniture stands out.

But also from a young age he received commissions of power. Examples are “Napoleon Bonaparte, first Consul” and the impressive portrait of “Napoleon I on his imperial throne”, which was not very well received by critics.

“Due to these criticisms that he considered too bold, he decided in the 1930s not to exhibit again at the Paris Salon”, recalled Pomarède.

Another of the masterpieces that are contemplated in the tour is “Oedipus and the Sphinx”, in which the artist wants to modernize the great male nude “and goes beyond the currents and their usual image” in a work in which the main figure is presented in relief, as if it were a frieze, anticipating the symbolism.

Along the route there is also an important selection of drawings that place Ingres “as one of the best cartoonists in the history of 19th century painting”, according to the French curator. Many of these drawings show the process of creating his great paintings, as in the case of “La gran Odalisca”, whose painting received important criticism.

“This work allows us to understand another of the key themes for Ingres as it was to renew the gender of the female nude, with works full of light and movement, with these nudes I wanted to create melodies.”

Dialogue with the Odalisque is “Ruggiero liberates Angelica”, a painting “of an extraordinary sensuality”. 

The section “Troubadour” shows works in which the artist takes from the romanticism the so-called troubadour painting, small paintings in which he reflects stories of emotional rather than historical interest, set in the courts of the Middle Ages, such as “Rafael and la Fornarina “or” Francisco I attends the last breath of Leonardo da Vinci “.

“One of his most famous masterpieces, the portrait of Louis-Francois Bertin, in which he shows the great personality of the person portrayed through his attitude, stands out”.

Ingres also addressed religious painting, but not in a traditional way, but tried to modernize the way he painted the virgins Rafael, as in “The Virgin Adoring the Sacred Form”.

In the section “Sumptuous nudity” is contemplated the mythical picture par excellence of Ingres, “The Turkish Bath”. According to the curator, the artist worked all his life to do this work, in which he shows “a very refined work of light, with some music, I wanted to paint something beautiful”.

And he does it with a song to the beauty of the nude female body in a work in which harmony stands out and that had a fundamental importance in artists like Matisse and Picasso. “Ingres looks to the past but begins to venture into the future, creating works with a very special originality

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