Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres Critical Reception
- Full Name:
- Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
- Short Name:
- Date of Birth:
- 29 Aug 1780
- Date of Death:
- 14 Jan 1867
- Paintings, Drawings
- Oil, Wood
- Figure, Fantasy, Scenery
- Art Movement:
- Montauban, France
The work of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres scaled the reactionary gamut when it came to critiques. During his 87 years Ingres had frequently seen the critical response to his work go from unabashed scorning to enthusiastic praise. The favor of his work was a swinging pendulum; not even he was certain what the reactions to his work would be after he exhibited a piece to a salon.
The fateful entering of Napoleon I on His Imperial Throne at his first Salon exhibit brought about a heated, unfavorable reaction from critics. As they reviewed the stiffness and flat frontality of Napoleon, Ingres was accused of purposefully taking art back to its most primitive. Thus his work was deemed "gothic". This would not be the last time the artist encountered such harsh disapproval.
Ingres moved to Italy to study but sent two works back home to France in 1808. The reception of Valpincon Bather and Oedipus and the Sphinx was no kinder. The officials at the Ecole were outraged by his display of linear severity and tonal sobriety. He received a similar reaction for his Jupiter and Thetis where officials highly disapproved of his lack of conventional modeling and anatomical distortions.
Though it is now one of his most celebrated canvases, La Grande Odalisque did not receive such recognition upon its exhibition in the 1819 Salon. Ingres expressed both his originality and desire for the ideal beauty of the female nude by elongating her back, sending critics into uproar. One critic claimed she had three vertebrae too many and she was clearly not a creature found in nature. It seems critics were not ready for the erotic imagination of the inventive artists.
The 1833 Salon marked the first time that Ingres received critical accolades for the portrait of Louis-François Bertin. It represented the tenacity of the newly empowered middle class. The portraits photographic realism proved to be just one of the artists' many talents.
Yet, such success was short-lived. Just a year later, at the 1834 Salon, Ingres' Martyrdom of Saint-Symphorien did not meet with approval possibly because Ingres was forcing his artistic beliefs too strongly as a professor at the Ecole. This religious canvas was attacked by all, even Ingres' allies. He announced that he would discontinue entering his work at the Salon permanently. The artist had his fair share of disapproval and this prompted him to leave his position at the Ecole in France and return to Rome as the director of the Academie de France.
During his time teaching at the Academie Ingres continued to paint on his own. It was Antiochus and Stratonice that turned the critical tide in his favor once more. Ingres made Paris his home once again, this time dining with the King and receiving public praise at a banquet of political and cultural dignities - the recognition he had been waiting for.
Around this time, Ingres finally secured the title of greatest living artist in France. Though a history painter, he continued to receive commissions for portraits of the feminine elite and he spent a good remainder of his life doing so.
Ingres entered 69 works at an official public exhibition, the 1855 Universal Exposition in Paris. He received mixed reviews both being deemed the last great representative of the grand tradition and labeled as having a stagnant, unprogressive style irrelevant to contemporary advances in modern painting.
The nudes Ingres painted in the latter portion of his career once again showed his universal talent. In La Source Ingres displayed his model's nude 13-year-old body in much more realistic proportions. This canvas received praise from the masses, but towards his later years, Ingres returned to drawing with anatomical manipulations in The Turkish Bath. His quest for idealization was unending, lasting throughout his career, yet again puzzling his critics.
Ingres' death, coupled with the effects of the Revolution, brought an end to Neoclassicism's ideals. His work provided inspiration for a few Impressionist artists but a revived interest in his drawing skills was not stirred until the days of 20th century artists such as Picasso and Matisse.
Modern Day Reception:
Today, Ingres is still viewed as a master of the 19th century. He continues to spark the interest of modern art critics and galleries of his work are well-received.