Today is the birthday of French neoclassical painter, Jean-August-Dominique Ingres. Famous for his historical renderings as well as his iconic portraits, the artist would turn 232 if he were miraculously still alive today.
Born in 1780 in Montauban, France, Ingres' career was marked by his strictly academic outlook on the arts. He spent the better half of his childhood and early adult life studying art under classical artists like Joseph Roques and Jacque-Louis David, developing a strong affinity toward the works of predecessor Raphael. His deep respect for the masterworks of antiquity would prove disadvantageous when he entered the art scene in Paris though, and his debut at the Salon in 1806 was met only with disdain from critics who felt the painter's eye was positioned too much on the past.
Panned at the Salon by his own teacher, Ingres left for adventures in Italy. There he created some notable works including "Oedipus and the Sphinx" and "La Grande Odalisque" -- paintings that demonstrated his mastery of both the male and female nude. He continued to send paintings back to France for criticism, but continued to receive negative feedback, labeled a "gothic" by Salon patrons and a renegade by fellow classical artists. It wasn't until 1824 that Ingres was able to overcome the criticism, finally exhibiting a piece titled "Vow of Louis XIII" that was widely praised. And yet, his adherence to the classical style was against the rising tide of Romanticism.
"La Grande Odalisque," 1814, oil on canvas, 91 x 162 cm, Louvre.
Despite the changing attitudes of the public toward Ingres' painting style, his techniques went virtually unchanged throughout his life, gravitating toward historical renderings and meticulous portraits that demonstrated his dedication to the silhouette. Ingres passed away at the old age of 86, leaving behind his estate to his hometown of Montauban.
Ingres' legacy is well-known today, with artists like Picasso and Matisse citing him as an influence, and some of his greatest works remain housed in famous museums such as the Louvre. His name has also entered French language as a colloquialism that celebrates his love of the violin outside of his love for art -- "Violon d'Ingres," which is also the title of one of Man Ray's best-known works.
In honor of Jean-August-Dominique Ingres' birthday, we've put together a slideshow of images of the neoclassical artist. Let us know what you think of his masterpieces in the comments section.
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