A 45th painting by Ingres for Montauban

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3/5/23 - Acquisition - Montauban, Musée Ingres - The Talabardon & Gautier sales, so rich in museum acquisitions that we can hardly exhaust the subjects they give us the opportunity to deal with, have also enabled the Musée Ingres in Montauban to exercise its right of preemption for the purchase of a painting by the eponymous painter. This is a rare opportunity: the last painting by Ingres to have entered its collections was indeed the Boileau’s Head for the Apotheosis of Homer, more than thirty years ago, in 1990.

1. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
The Condottiere
Oil on canvas - 53,5 x 41 cm
Montauban, Musée Ingres
Photo: Ader Nordmann & Dominique
See the image in its page

The canvas acquired by Montauban, for the reasonable sum of 198,000 euro (with expenses) also represents a head, a figure of a cuirassed man. Called at the time of the sale Le Condottiere, a name that was already given to it during the painter’s lifetime, at an exhibition in Montauban in 1862 Un condottieri (sic), this identification seems risky. Rather than one of the Italian mercenaries so often present in Renaissance art, it is in fact a study for the figure on the right, holding a pike, in the painting representing the entry into Paris of the Dauphin, the future Charles V, commissioned by Count Amédée-David de Pastoret and now kept in Hartford. The latter, who can undoubtedly be identified with the Maréchal d’Audrehem, aide-de-camp to Bertrand du Guesclin, is therefore not a mercenary, nor is he Italian, but the title, which was also used at the artist’s posthumous exhibition at the Beaux-Arts in 1867, has definitely been established. Probably painted from life, it is possible that the same model can be recognised in one of the soldiers on the left of the Martyrdom of Saint Symphorien in Autun cathedral.

2. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
The Entry into Paris of the Dauphin, the Future Charles V, 1821
Oil on canvas - 47 x 56 cm
Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum
Photo: Wikipedia (public domain)
See the image in its page

The Hartford picture, of modest dimensions and painted in 1821 at the beginning of his Florentine sojourn, can be considered to be in the artist’s troubadour vein. Nevertheless, the study that Montauban has just acquired is painted in a rather broad, almost realistic manner, quite different from what we are used to seeing from him. The inspiration also refers to the Italian Renaissance, to Sebastiano del Piombo as well as to Titian. When it was shown at the 1867 exhibition, the catalogue stated that "the cuirass was painted by the master around 1855". In an article published in the Bulletin du Musée Ingres [1], Bertrand Dumas indicated that the work had been slightly enlarged to accompany this change. The notice of the Talabardon & Gautier sale noted that this was "a practice of transforming his sketches that was usual for him". Nevertheless, the Musée Ingres questions this indication, considering that "The glittering rendering of the reflections of the warrior’s armour refers to a whole series of studies drawn by Ingres on sheets prepared with brown wash, which allowed the artist to make the light shine through highlights of white chalk applied to a locally discoloured sheet", adding that this type of process is found at the same time in the paintings Roger délivrant Angélique and Philippe V et le Maréchal de Berwick. Clearly dated 1821 (which may have been added by the painter later), this would not be a sketch taken up thirty years later, but a work painted in one go.

The painting was acquired directly from Ingres in 1862 by Georges de Monbrison, a member of the Société archéologique de Tarn-et-Garonne, who between 1860 and 1879 had a neo-Renaissance château built in the village of Le Pin, not far from Montauban. This castle, built by the architect Théodore Olivier, a collaborator of Viollet-le-Duc, is still standing and is classified as a historical monument. After passing through the Petit gallery in Paris and then a Parisian collection, this work was acquired by the Wildenstein gallery and was put up for sale in New York on 4 May 2012 where it was bought by the Talabardon & Gautier gallery. It is now the 45th painting by Ingres to join his museum.

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