JEAN-AUGUSTE-DOMINIQUE INGRES: CONSERVATOR OF THE GOOD DOCTRINE
Religiously following the technicalities of antiquity to conserve the classical tradition of Raphael and Nicolas Poussin, the French Neoclassical painter, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, was acclaimed as the icon of cultural conservatism in 19th-century France.
Best-known for his society portraits and female nudes, Ingres was born on August 29, 1780, Montauban, France. Introduced to art at an early age, Ingres attended the local school École des Frères de I'Éducation Chrétienne in 1786. However, during the French Revolution, his education was cut short by the abolition of religious orders in France in 1791. Afterwards, he was transferred to a fine arts academy in Toulouse.
At the age of 17, Ingres moved to Paris to study at David's studio. His training with the most celebrated artists and his later education from École des Beaux Art awarded him the most Prix de Rome scholarship. And in 1806, he went to Italy to follow his own artistic impulses.
Known for his extraordinary drawing skills, Ingres believed that line, not color, conveyed the expressive content in an image. His cool, meticulously drawn works constituted the stylistic antithesis of the emotionalism and colorism of the contemporary Romantic school. He did not share his colleagues' enthusiasm for battle scenes, preferring to depict revelatory moments and intimate confrontations that rarely included movement or violence.
However, his early works were criticized for stylistic and historical idiosyncrasies and his first submissions to the Paris Salon were received very poorly. Disappointed by this humiliation, Ingres left Paris for Rome again to direct at the Académie de France. During his stay at the Académie, he continued to paint his own work and the response from “Antiochus and Stratonice” led to his critical acclaim and made him widely popular.
Ingres despised the more fashionable work of the Romantics such as Eugene Delacroix, but modern opinion regard Ingres as embodying the Romantic spirit of his time. While the spatial and anatomical distortions that characterize his portraits and nudes anticipate many of the most audacious formal experiments of the 20th-century modernism.
Highly revered today for his mythological studies “Jupiter and Thetis” and “Oedipus and the Sphinx” as well as evocative nudes and portraiture work “Madame Rivière”, Ingres's success led to the legacy of Classicism versus Romanticism, and created the standard to which Classical paintings were held.
Ingres died on January 14, 1867.