Ingres is a French neo-classical painter, and one of the major portrait
painters of the 19th century. The major French painters of the first
half of the 19th century were Eugène Delacroix and Ingres, who were then
seen as leaders of the opposed styles of romanticism and neoclassicism.
Ingres was a student of Jacques Louis David.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was born in Montauban, Tarn-et-Garonne, France, the first of seven children of Jean-Marie-Joseph Ingres and his wife Anne Moulet. His father was a successful jack-of-all-trades in the arts, a painter of miniatures, sculptor, decorative stonemason, and amateur musician. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres mother was the nearly illiterate daughter of a master wigmaker.
From his father the young Ingres received early encouragement and instruction in drawing and music, and his first known drawing, a study after an antique cast, was made in 1789. Starting in 1786 Ingres attended the local school, Ecole des Frères de l'Education Chrétienne, but his education was disrupted by the turmoil of the French Revolution, and the closing of the school in 1791 marked the end of his conventional education. The deficiency of his schooling would always remain for him a source of insecurity.
In 1791, Joseph Ingres took his son to Toulouse, where the young Jean Auguste Dominique was enrolled in the Académie Royale de Peinture, Sculpture et Architecture. There he studied under the sculptor Jean-Pierre Vigan, the landscape painter Jean Briant, and the painter Joseph Roques, who imparted to the young artist his veneration of Raphael. Ingres's musical talent was further developed under the tutelage of the violinist Lejeune. From the ages of thirteen to sixteen he was second violinist in the Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse, and he would continue to play the violin as an avocation for the rest of his life.
In 1797 Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres entered Jacques Louis David's studio in Paris. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres won the Prix de Rome in 1801, but lack of government funds prevented him from going to Italy until 1806. A lifelong admirer of both Raphael and ancient art, he adored Italy. While residing in Rome, he often lived hand-to-mouth, surviving by drawing graceful pencil portraits of wealthy French people on holiday. In 1813, Ingres married Mlle Madeleine Chapelle, a modest milliner from Guéret.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres returned to Paris in 1824 to find his Vow of Louis XIII (shown here) applauded by critics. Compared with the free brushwork and brilliant color of newcomer Eugéne Delacroix, Ingres's elegant paintings suddenly seemed more palatable. From that point on, Ingres was generally honored by both the government and the artistic establishment. He was awarded commissions and assumed authority in the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Eventually, his sincere belief in the supremacy of line over color and his own polished style mutated into dictatorship.
"Touch," said Ingres, "is the device of charlatans to show their skill with the brush." Though the big canvases Apotheosis of Homer , Martyrdom of St. Symphorien and others are grandiose, and make impression with their sizes and labor of the painter, they can’t be considered the achievements of the artist, they are cold and rational.
Working on such grand compositions with mythological and religious subjects, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was irritated when he had to distract for portraits, but the portraits were what made Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres famous. The main force of Ingres was in his contact with a model, his sitters always inspired the artist. One of Ingres most outstanding portrait work is the Portrait of Louis-Francois Bertin (shown below). The public found its realism spellbinding, although some of the critics found its naturalism vulgar and its coloring drab.
Ingres was regarded as an effective teacher and was beloved by his students. The best known of them is Théodore Chassériau, who studied with him from 1830, as a precocious eleven-year-old, until Ingres closed his studio in 1834 to return to Rome. Ingres considered Chassériau his truest disciple, even predicting, according to an early biographer, that he would be "the Napoleon of painting." By the time Chassériau visited Ingres in Rome in 1840, however, the younger artist's growing allegiance to the romantic style of Delacroix was apparent, leading Ingres to disown his favorite student, of whom he never again spoke favorably.
No other artist who studied under Ingres succeeded in establishing a strong identity. Ingres's influence on later generations of artists has been considerable. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres' most significant heir was Edgar Degas, who studied under Louis Lamothe, a minor disciple of Ingres. In the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse were among those who acknowledged a debt to the great classicist; Matisse described him as the first painter "to use pure colors, outlining them without distorting them".
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres died of pneumonia on 17 January 1867, at the age of eighty-six, having preserved his faculties to the last. He is interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. The contents of his studio, including a number of major paintings, over 4000 drawings, and his violin, were bequeathed by the artist to the city museum of Montauban, now known as the Musée Ingres.