Pen and brown ink, graphite pencil, black stone pencil and stump on cream paper
Signed "Ing" lower right
36 x 13.9 cm (54 x 30 cm framed)
This beautiful drawing, of great technical virtuosity, is one of the many studies made by Ingres for Astrée, one of the key characters in the Golden Age fresco he painted at the Château de Dampierre (Yvelines).
1. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
After a first apprenticeship in his home town of Montauban, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres became a pupil of Jacques-Louis David in Paris. He was awarded the “Prix de Rome” in 1801, but was not able to go there until 1806, and then however remained in Rome until 1820. In Rome he discovered Raphael's paintings, which will have a decisive influence on his style and lead him to develop a taste for antiquity. It was also there that in 1813 he married Madeleine Chapelle (1782-1849), a young milliner from Guéret. In 1820, he left Rome for Florence where he lived until 1824.
After a laborious start, he finally met success in France with his Vow of Louis XIII when it was exhibited at the Salon of 1824. This success led him to go back to France before being appointed director of the Académie de France in Rome, which prompted him to return to Rome from 1835 to 1842.
In 1839 the Duke of Luynes, owner of the Dampierre Estate, ordered two colossal allegorical panels from him. The themes chosen by Ingres (the Golden Age and the Iron Age) reflect his taste for Greek and Roman antiquity. But it was only after his return from Rome in August 1843 that Ingres moved to Dampierre himself where he lived during the summer months for several years, working on this commission inspired by the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican.
He left Dampierre in November 1847 after having almost completed the Golden Age panel and sketched out the Iron Age one. The 1848 Revolution and the general upheaval that ensued did not allow him to return to Dampierre during that year, in full agreement with his sponsor. He intended to resume his work in the summer of 1849, but on the 27th July his wife Madeleine died, leaving Ingres profoundly distraught.
Ingres never resumed work at Dampierre and on March 7th 1850 he signed a transaction with the Duke, abandoning the two frescoes as they stood without any compensation other than the 20,000 francs he had already received. In 1862, however, Ingres made a copy of the Golden Age in a reduced size (46.4 x 61.9 cm) containing some variants, which he kept in his collection until his death. It is now displayed in the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts (United States of America).
A remembrance of his beloved wife Madeleine can be found in the ‘Turkish Bath ’ painted in 1862: the odalisque with arms raised is inspired by a drawing depicting Madeleine in 1818. Ingres died on 14 January 1867 (at 11 quai Voltaire) in Paris.
2. Description of the artwork
The last of the immortals to live among humans during the Golden Age, Astrée or Astrape is the daughter of Zeus and Themis. She is the personification of Justice, which explains why she is often depicted with a scale in her hands. She appears, dressed in a white tunic to the left of the Dampierre fresco (like also in its later copy by Ingres).
Numerous drawings, most of which are kept in the Montauban Museum, allow us to rediscover the creative path the painter took in the realisation of this figure: the setting up of the stature from a nude, trials on the tunic, which firstly included covering only the lower half of the body (as in our drawing), then eventually draping the whole body as seen in the final version. This iconographic evolution may perhaps be explained by the difficulty Ingres felt, as can be perceived from the letter he wrote to his friend Marcotte in 1847: "And always working from the nude, nothing but the nude without being able to use the beautiful colours of the palette on the draperies".
3. A very specific drawing technique
The different stages of the drawing can be found in the different materials used in our drawing, where Ingres displays a great dexterity in mixing techniques.
The silhouette of Astrée is simply sketched with a brown ink line. This metallo-gallic ink (usually obtained by a reaction between a vegetable substance such as tannin and iron sulphate) becomes lighter under the effect of iron oxidation and takes on a golden hue like in our drawing. It is much more suitable than carbon ink for pen work.
The sketch of the face and the signature are made in graphite pencil. Invented at the end of the eighteenth century by inserting a mixture of white clay and graphite powder into a wooden sheath, this medium was extensively used by Ingres throughout his career.
Finally, most of the drapery is made with black stone pencil, obtained from a natural rock rich in carbon, sometimes mixed with other constituents such as black smoke to reinforce the colour. The black pencil strokes can be easily stumped as in the pleat or under the elbow notch in our sketch.
4. Conclusion: our opinion on the artwork
As a preparatory work to one of the key figures of Ingres' most ambitious compositions, our drawing allows us to appreciate all the virtuosity of this great draughtsman.
Main bibliographical references :
Ingres - Secrets de dessin under the direction of Florence Viguier-Dutheil; 2011
Ingres et l'Age d'Or - Pierre Viguie in La Revue des Deux Mondes; December 1967
Delevery information :
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