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Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1780-1867

Study for 'V?nus ? Paphos'

Description:Read An Essay On This Drawing

In his review of the 1905 Salon d'Automne, the critic Louis Vauxcelles wrote of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: "What we love, what is ageless . . . is the lyric and profound realism of the lead-point drawings, masterpieces of sagacity; it is the acute, imperious vision which takes hold of the contours of beings and of things with a singular authority; that marvelous graphic gift already perfectly formed from the beginning; it is that pagan southerner's sensual love for the beauty of form."1 Although what Vauxcelles is discussing here is the suite of preparatory drawings for Ingres's Le Bain Turc(1862, Musée du Louvre), exhibited at the Salon d'Automne that year, his comments could apply equally to this drawing, a study for the painting Vénus à Paphos (1852, Musée d'Orsay, Paris).2

Study for "Vénus à Paphos" is an example of Ingres's superb draftsmanship. The goddess's elegance and grace derive from Ingres's disciplined contour line, a device that both delineates the figure and refines it into pure form. When translated into paint, as in Vénus à Paphos or Le Bain Turc, the linear emphasis of Ingres's work is cited as evidence for his academicism. Yet this fundamentally abstract approach to the human figure, a treatment of form exemplified by Study for "Vénus à Paphos,"had a profound impact on avant-garde artists during the early twentieth century, exerting a strong influence on such painters as Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), and André Derain (1880-1954). Following the exhibition of the drawings for Le Bain Turc at the Salon d'Automne, for example, Matisse translated Ingres's contour line into the flattened, undulating silhouettes that characterize Le Bonheur de Vivre (1905-6, The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania). Picasso also adopted this approach in the sensual nudes of his Rose Period (ca. 1904-6).

Ingres's impact on Fauve painters such as Matisse and cubist artists such as Picasso may ultimately explain the presence of the Study for "Vénus à Paphos" in The Cone Collection of The Baltimore Museum of Art. Both Claribel and Etta Cone were intensely interested in Matisse and Picasso and acquired a great number of paintings by both artists. By the 1930s, Ingres had been established as a major influence on these painters by such prominent figures as Arthur B. Davies (1862-1928), Roger Fry (1866-1934), and Leo Stein (1872-1947). With the acquisition of Study for "Vénus à Paphos," the first nineteenth-century drawing added to the collection, Etta Cone proved herself to be an assiduous collector with an informed understanding of modernism's development. Susan E. Ross

1. L. Vauxcelles, "Le Salon d'Automne," Gil Blas, 17 October 1905, quoted in English in R. Benjamin, "Ingres Chez Les Fauves," Art History 23 (December 2000): 753.

2. The genesis of the painting Vénus à Paphos has long been a matter of scholarly debate. According to one theory, Ingres copied the drawing from Paul Flandrin, the subject of which was Antoinette Balaÿ. Flandrin's brother was at the time in the process of painting Balaÿ's portrait and subsequently Ingres used her as the model for the painting of Vénus. Other scholars, however, dispute that version of events and suggest that Ingres was himself painting Balaÿ's portrait but, for reasons unknown, changed his mind halfway through and turned the painting into the resultant image of the goddess. From that point of view, the Study for "Vénus à Paphos"now in The Baltimore Museum of Art represents an intermediate step in the evolution of the final painting. The two arguments are represented in H. Neff, "Zuwachs zum Werk von Ingres," Pantheon 38 (1979): 283-86, and H. Toussaint, "La Vénus à Paphos," in Les Portraits d'Ingres: Peintures des musées nationaux (Paris, 1985), 129-35.

Medium: Graphite on cream, thin, smooth wove paper
Dimensions: Sheet: 316 x 203 mm.
Date: 1852
Category: mythological
Subject: MME. BALAY Venue Nude
Inscriptions and Markings: RECTO: LRQ, graphite, 'Ingres'; LowerC, (graphite), 'blond' with line pointing to pubic area; BLC, stamp, 'JI' in circle [Lugt 1477]. VERSO: LRC, stamp, 'MA' in square.
Exhibition History: The Baltimore Museum of Art, 'Matisse, Picasso and Friends: Masterworks on Paper from the Cone Collection', June 7-Aug. 27, 1995; circulated to Cleveland Museum of Art, Dec. 3, 1996-Jan. 26, 1997; Seattle Art Museum, Feb. 25-April 20, 1997; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, May 18-July 13, 1997. The Baltimore Museum of Art, 'Master Drawings by French Artists in the Museum's Collection', May 14-July 23, 1989. Shepherd Gallery, New York, 'The Non-Dissenters: David through Puvis de Chavannes', May-June, 1968, no. 24, plate xi. Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, OH, 'Ingres and His Circle', March 3-24, 1967, no. 4, figure 4. Cleveland Museum of Art, 'Neo-Classicism: Style and Motif', Sept. 21-Nov. 1, 1964, no. 132. Paul Rosenberg and Co., New York, 'Ingres in American Collections', Apr. 7 -May 6, 1961, plate 53. The Baltimore Museum of Art, 'From Ingres to Gauguin: French Nineteenth-Century Paintings Owned in Maryland', Nov.-Dec. 1951, p. 15, no. 9. The Baltimore Museum of Art, 'Selections from the Cone Collection', Fall 1949, ill. p. 30. [no catalogue number and difficult to determine with absolute certainty whether it was included since the catalogue vaguely refers to 50 drawings]. The Baltimore Museum of Art, 'A Century of Baltimore Collecting, 1840-1940', June 6-Sept. 1, 1941, p. 113.
Bibliography: H?l?ne Toussaint, Les portraits d'Ingres: peintures des mus?es nationaux, Paris: R?union des mus?es nationaux, 1985, p. 133, no. XXIII 2. Bernard Chaet, The Art of Drawing, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983, p. 178, fig. no. 229. Brenda Richardson, Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta: The Cone Collection of The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 1985, p. 190. Hans Naef, 'Zuwachs zum Werk von Ingres', Pantheon, 3:38 (July/Aug./Sept. 1979), p. 284, figure 1. The Baltimore Museum of Art, Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings in the Cone Collection, 1967, p. 72, no. 184. Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin, 24:3 (Spring 1967); pp. 149, 155. Arts Magazine, 39:1 (Oct. 1964), p. 34. The Baltimore Museum of Art News, Oct. 1949, p. 30.
Related Works: Painting in the Mus?e d'Orsay, Paris; drawing acquired for transfer in a private collection; drawing in the Mus?e de Montabaun. See also the painting Portrait of Madame Bala? by Hippolyte Flandrin in the Mus?e des Beaux-Arts, Lyons
Provenance: BMA by bequest, 1950; Etta Cone (1870-1949), Baltimore, 1937, purchased for 20,000 Swiss francs; Galerie Rosengart, Lucerne, 1937; Andr? Schoeller (1879-1955), Paris; Jacques Mathey (1883-1973), purchased for 2,800 francs from the Anatole France sale; Anatole France Sale, H?tel Drouot, April 20-21, 1932, no. 89; Anatole France (1844-1924), Paris; J.A.D. Ingres Sale, 1867, Paris.
Collection: The Baltimore Museum of Art
Credit Line: The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland
Object Number: BMA 1950.12.661