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Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, a student of David, promulgated his master's neoclassical aesthetic throughout his long and very successful career. Ingres espoused the supremacy of line over color, the study of antique sculpture, and the value of drawing after the live model, principles he perfected in his expressive use of line to define form.

Madame Moitessier, the daughter of a wealthy government official and wife of a lace merchant, is shown in three-quarter length against a magenta damask background. She wears a black velvet evening dress with a white lace band at the top which is overlaid with a black lace shawl. The black dress and her skin offset her glistening jewels. The surface is finely finished, and the brushstroke almost invisible.

Ingres has simplified Madame Moitessier's features, recalling a Greco-Roman ideal. Her hairstyle and the decorative halo of roses further accentuate the fact that her face is perfectly oval and her features symmetrical. The sitter's body is rather flat, thus emphasizing that the figure-ground relationship is a play between lines and shapes. Ingres, by exploiting the curvilinear possibilities of the female form, has transformed Madame Moitessier into a monumental vision of ideal beauty.

Details

  • Title: Madame Moitessier
  • Date Created: 1851
  • Physical Dimensions: w1000 x h1470 cm (overall)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Samuel H. Kress Collection
  • External Link: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Theme: portrait, female
  • School: French
  • Provenance: The sitter, Marie Clothilde Inès, née de Foucauld [1821 1897], and her husband, Paul Sigisbert Moitessier [1799 1889]; their elder daughter, Clothilde Marie Catherine, comtesse de Flavigny [1843 1914], by 1911;[1] her sister, Françoise Camille Marie, vicomtesse Taillepied de Bondy [1850 1934], by 1921;[2] probably her son, François,[3] comte Taillepied de Bondy [b. 1875]; sold 1935 to (Paul Rosenberg & Co., London, New York, and Paris); sold 1945 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1946 to NGA. [1] Illustrated in Henry LaPauze, Ingres, sa vie et son oeuvre (1780 1867) d'apres documents inédites, Paris, 1911: 440 446, 452 461, as in the collection of the comtesse de Flavigny. [2] Cited as belonging to Mme la Vicomtesse Olivier de Bondy in Exhibition Ingres, Association Franco Américaine, Chambre Syndicale de la Curiosité et des Beaux Arts, Paris, 1921, no. 44. [3] Information in NGA curatorial files, and from Paul Rosenberg and other sources refer to Marie de Bondy's son as "Comte O. de Bondy." However, published sources on the Taillepied de Bondy family list Marie's sons as François, Robert [predeceases Marie], and Jean; Marie's husband, Comte Olivier de Bondy, predeceases her as well. As the painting was acquired by Paul Rosenberg & Co. in the year following Marie de Bondy's death, it is most likely to have passed through the hands of François, her elder surviving son. As the oldest son, François is also likely to have "Olivier" as part of his given name, though it has not appeared in published genealogical sources.
  • Artist: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

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