Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière

Date of Creation:
1806
Height (cm):
100.00
Length (cm):
70.00
Medium:
Oil
Support:
Canvas
Subject:
Figure
Framed:
Yes
Art Movement:
Neoclassicism
Current Location:
Paris, France
Displayed at:
Musée du Louvre
Owner:
Musée du Louvre
Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière Story / Theme

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Portrait Drawings:
Ingres' student, Robert Balze, described his teacher's working routine for portrait drawings. In the four hours he took for each work he used "an hour and a half in the morning, then two-and-a-half hours in the afternoon, he very rarely retouched it the next day. He often told me that he got the essence of the portrait while lunching with the model who, off guard, became more natural."
Although he was supposed to go to Rome, due to financial problems Ingres was forced to stay in Paris until 1806. During this period, much to his dismay, he made a living from drawing and painting portraits. Though the artist himself preferred history paintings, his portraits are among the most admired of his works.

Ingres painted Napoleon I on His Imperial Throne, a self-portrait, and Mademoiselle Caroline Riviére, all of which were painted on a large canvas.

Ingres painted Madamoiselle Caroline along with her father Philibert Riviére, the Councilor of the State, and her mother Madame Riviére. Caroline, just fifteen when this portrait was painted, died that same year. This work remains the only one Ingres did of an adolescent. All three portraits, along with that of Napoleon were exhibited at the 1806 Salon.

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière Inspirations for the Work

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Piero di Cosimo
Piero di Cosimo
Florence
Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci
Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci
Piero di Cosimo
Like all influential artists, Ingres was known to study the great masters before him. Though they indirectly influenced his work, Ingres developed his own style. Although there is no actual proof, Ingres' inspiration for Mademoiselle Caroline Riviére may have come from a lesser known Renaissance artist, Piero di Cosimo. Similarities can be drawn as Cosimo also displays the sexuality of a young woman but very obviously. Ingres merely hints at this.

After 1797 while in Paris, Ingres studied in the studio of Jacques-Louis David. Though he earnestly studied the principals of composition and human anatomy, Ingres developed his own style, creating anatomical distortions as evident in Caroline Riviére's portrait.

There are other works however that may have more specifically influenced this portrait.

Simonetta Vespucci:
Some art historians have connected the portrait of Madamoiselle Caroline Riviére to the similarly "gothic" Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci by Piero di Cosimo. This Italian Renaissance painter, portrays Simonetta circa 1480 as Cleopatra with a snake around her neck and shawl wrapped over her shoulders but revealing her breasts. Though Caroline remains unexposed, the bower around her waist mimics the sexual suggestions hinted at by the snake around Simonetta's neck.

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière Analysis

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Cropped - Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière
Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Cropped - Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière
Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Cropped - Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière
Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Cropped - Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière
Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
The portrait of Mademoiselle Caroline Riviére is the only adolescent portrait Ingres completed. This representation, often characterized as "gothic", flaunts Ingres' unique technique of his anatomical distortions and outlining of figures. Ingres plays up his subjects' innocence while depicting in a hidden sexuality that he brings to all his female figures through tone, color and lighting.

Use of Space:
The figure of Mademoiselle Caroline Riviére takes up the foremost portion of the canvas. She stands boldly in front of a flat background and underneath an archway that frames the canvas. It seems a little cramped and sometimes this portrait, as well as some of Ingres's others, is described as "suffocating". Ingres leaves a little breathing room on the left side of the canvas as the figure stands closer to the right edge. The landscape takes up minimal space in the background.

Anatomical Distortions:
Ingres borrowed the sitter's pose from his role model, Raphael. Unlike the great Italian master however, Ingres painted with extreme anatomical inaccuracy. Caroline Riviére's neck is noticeably elongated and the bridge of her nose extends into her brow. Such "tweaking" outraged critics of his day.

Outline:
Ingres often outlined his figures giving them a certain feel of flatness that caused critics to label his work "gothic."

Use of Color:
The white of Caroline's dress and bower make the young figure pop off of the canvas as she stands in front of a dismal, dreary and distant bluish-green landscape. Her porcelain skin makes her dark eyes and ebony hair all the more youthful and they provide an excellent contrast. Ingres paints her full lips in a natural pinkish hue echoing the color of youth that resides on her cheeks.

The artist's choice of white dress signifies her purity and though the bower twirled around her is also the color of innocence, its curvature lends credence to a peaking sexual interest.

Lighting:
The figure of Caroline Reviére is outlined in a shadow, a common technique for Ingres. Light rests on her forehead and collar bone and the ribbon just below her bust catches a glimpse of light.

Tone elicited:
Though the 15-year-old is dressed and adorned in the color of innocence, and her expression reveals "simple thoughts" some critics take note of the sexuality Ingres suggests in the portrait of the adolescent. Her lips are supple and he elongates her bare neck. Her long gloves are matched by an even longer bower that circles her tiny frame, signifying sexuality.

The town behind and below her resides into a quiet shadow giving an overall calming effect.

Brushstroke:
Ingres was said to have hated a "noticeable" brushstroke. On this canvas, as well as most of his other works, he uses a tight brushstroke to create the photorealism of this portrait. The tightness of his brushwork enabled Ingres to create surfaces and textures that so closely resembled real life: the fluffy fur of the bower, the ridges in her dress, the satin of the ribbon below her bust, the sheer trim of her trace and the smooth suede of her gloves.

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière Critical Reception

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J.A.D. Ingres
J.A.D. Ingres
When Ingres first exhibited Mademoiselle Caroline Riviére at the Salon of 1806 he didn't exactly receive the attention he had hoped for. Caroline's portrait was definitely noticed, but more for what critics believe to be a digression to the art world instead of progress. They attacked his style, his return to gothic and primitive art and ridiculed the artist for his anatomical distortions.

Critics of later ages would finally come to recognize the undeniable talent of Ingres' fashion sense in this portrait as would later focus on its undeniable sexuality when compared to his later paintings of harem women.

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière Critical Reception

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière Related Paintings

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Portrait of Monsieur Rivière
Portrait of Monsieur Rivière
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Portrait of Madame Rivière
Portrait of Madame Rivière
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
La Grande Odalisque
La Grande Odalisque
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
During a time of economic hardship, Ingres was commissioned by wealthy patrons to produce portraits for their affluent families. Philbert Rivière, a successful court official under Napoleon's empire, employed the up-and-coming artist to commemorate himself, his wife and his daughter Caroline. Though painted in succession, the portrait of Caroline stands apart from her parent's. Some critics connect the portrait of Mademoiselle Caroline Riviére to his nude figures as they all share anatomical distortions.

Works By Ingres:
The portraits of Caroline's parents are still in existence but receive less attention than Caroline's and rightfully so. If one was to put all three paintings side by side, it would appear that Caroline's remains completely unrelated to the others. Neither her father nor mother's portraits received Ingres' special attention and they lack his signature touch: anatomical distortions. They look like portraits that could've been done by any talented, struggling artist of the time.

Perhaps Ingres had a certain physical attraction to the young girl which would explain his desire to perfect her further by tweaking several of her features. He elongates Caroline's neck and extends the bridge of her nose all the way to her brow line. He adjusted the bodies of all women he worked on, including the odalisque and the harem women. Some critics have gone as far as to say that the many of Ingres' portraits, including Caroline Riviere's, are just a clothed reproduction of his distorted nudes.

Facial Expressions:
The facial expressions between the Riviére family are also different. Caroline's father exudes a polite shy smile, a character to be easily overlooked. Her mother shares that same innocent yet quizzical gaze but lacks the deeper qualities Ingres had brought to the canvas of her daughter. With Caroline he suggested something more; an awakening desire behind her large young eyes. She cannot be overlooked but instead entices the viewer and draws them into her gaze.

Wardrobe:
He also pays specific and greater attention to Caroline's wardrobe. Her father wears the ordinary uniform of a statesman, neatly pressed and perfectly in place. Her mother is cloaked in a white dress and veil, and further wrapped in a beige shawl. The twirling of her fabrics suggests nothing besides a lazy day for the sitter. The white of Caroline's dress is far more significant than the white of her mother's. Caroline's white represents purity and innocence, a color he later defiles with the shape of the long white bower. It curves around her young body suggesting a flair of sexuality.

Settings:
The settings are different. He places her parents indoors, her father sitting at his desk and her mother on a couch. They both have blank backgrounds and seem just another flat, dead canvas of any ordinary sitter. Caroline on the other hand, stands outdoors above a sleeping town in the background behind her. The whole world is at her gloved fingertips.

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière Locations Through Time - Notable Sales

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Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière was bequeathed to the Louvre in 1870 by Caroline Rivière's sister-in-law.

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière Artist

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J.A.D. Ingres
J.A.D. Ingres
Ingres studied with Neoclassical master, Jacques-Louis David, who invoked the importance of the line in drawing. Ingres had a long lasting career and during his lifetime he experienced both disapproval and praise from critics, in equally strong capacities. Before earning the rank of "best living artist in France," he spent many years being the most loathed. He was heavily criticized for the anatomical distortions he added to the young figure in Mademoiselle Caroline Riviére.

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière Art Period

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Neoclassicism is the 18th century revival of classical beliefs. It differs from other revivals as Neoclassical artists approached the ancient subject with a newer, more scientific approach. They also combined an interest in both ancient worlds; Greece and Rome. The artifacts uncovered at Pompeii and Herculaneum contributed significantly to this rebirth of classicism.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres absorbed the newly discovered ancient art. He studied it intently and was often criticized for reviving the ancient style. He also portrayed the absolute truth of life through the "pure and simple" verities of antiquity. Neoclassicism replaced the frivolity and superficiality of the Rococo era.

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière Bibliography

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Find out more about this and Ingres's other works by referrig to the recommended reading list below.

• Boime, Albert. Art in an Age of Bonapartism, 1800-1815. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1993
• Fisher, Jay M. The Essence Of Line: French Drawings From Ingres To Degas. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, July, 2005
• Grimme, Karin H. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres: Taschen Basic Art. New York: TASCHEN, December, 2006
• Vigne, Georges. Ingres. London: Abbeville Press, Incorporated. October, 1995

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