Saturday, January 16, 2010

09/10 Academic Decathlon French Revolution Art Selection #18 - Princesse de Broglie

Princesse de Broglie, 1851–1853, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Oil on canvas; 47 3/4 x 35 3/4 in. (121.3 x 90.8 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jean-August-Dominque Ingres is one of my favorite artists! In one of my early drawing classes in college, my professor had us select a work of Ingres' to copy. For some reason I chose one with LOTS of draped fabric, and so I began to imitate his mastery. I was humbled from this exercise but bonded with him in a big way. His approach is so beautiful, flawless and radiant it almost leaves me speechless.

His Neoclassical style comes naturally as he studied under the great Jacques-Louis David, France's premier painter during the Revolutionary period. Raphael became another great influence in his art - Ingres blended the idealism and naturalism of this great Renaissance artist. He explored many themes of history and mythology, but he thought of himself as a history painter. He also painted some of the most important female nudes, some of which are influenced by the exoticism of the Orient that the Romantic artists loved.

Ingres was also an important portrait artist. These are the works that he is most famous for. He was unbelievably prolific! His portraits have dates ranging form 1800 - 1867, the year he died. And though he thought of himself as a history painter, he displayed his portraits alongside his other paintings throughout his career. Remember, the Academy held history painting as the most important subject matter, so it's no wonder he wanted to be known for that genre. He painted many wealthy patrons throughout Europe as well as Napoleon Bonaparte. Before each portrait, he created detailed drawings that included tiny details, though some of his drawings were finished artworks.

This beautiful painting of Princesse de Broglie is stunning. His approach is so detailed and perfect, it is photo-realistic. The Princess was a reserved woman who came from a wealthy Catholic family. She was well educated and wrote a book about Christian virtues that her husband published after her early death at 35. She is shown in this painting in three-quarter length pose. Her gown is made of blue satin with lace trim at the sleeves and neckline. The gold pendant she wears was chosen carefully to communicate her wealth and refinement, but she also wears pearl earrings, a ruby and diamond bracelet and an additional pearl cuff necklace as a bracelet.

She is calm and serene and leans casually against a gold damask armchair in the family's sitting room. The room is kept deliberately simple to allow the focus to be on the Princess. A fan, gloves and shawl are draped across the back of the chair as if she is about to leave for the evening. This portrait was highly lauded and the family quite pleased with the end result. Five years after it was completed, her husband put it behind curtains after her death from tuberculosis. It must have been very sad to curtain this beautiful image, she is so much alive in her portrait.

Self-portrait of Jean-August-Dominique Ingres.


Neusa Vaz said...

loved your blog....

meperry said...

Hello, Thank you for the blog. I am a self taught painter at fifty years old, when I was twenty I worshiped Ingres and His style of work. It seemed near perfection and his beautiful line was a strong influence on me. I did not become that painter as it was beyond my skill set but I did learn and looked hard. Her blue satin gown is other worldly to me. Such love. Thanks for reminding me and I will return. Best, Mark

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