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Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (29 Aug. 1780-14 Jan. 1867); French Neoclassical painter. Although he considered himself to be a painter of history in the tradition of Nicolas Poussin and Jacques-Louis David, by the end of his life it was Ingres's portraits, both painted and drawn, that were recognized as his greatest legacy.
He was profoundly informed by past artistic traditions, and in his career assumed the role of a guardian of academic orthodoxy against the ascendant Romantic style, exemplified by Eugène Delacroix. His expressive distortions of form and space make him an important precursor of modern art, whose work influenced Picasso and Matisse and other modernists.
Born into a modest family in Montauban, he traveled to Paris to study in the studio of David. In 1802 he made his Salon debut, and won the Prix de Rome for his painting The Ambassadors of Agamemnon in the tent of Achilles. By the time he departed in 1806 for his residency in Rome, his style—revealing his close study of Italian and Flemish Renaissance masters—was fully developed, and would change little for the rest of his life....
Ingres's style was formed early in life and changed comparatively little. His earliest drawings, such as the Portrait of a Man (or Portrait of an unknown, 3 July 1797) already show a suavity of outline and an extraordinary control of the parallel hatchings which model the forms. From the first, his paintings are characterized by a firmness of outline reflecting his often-quoted conviction that "drawing is the probity of art". He believed color to be no more than an accessory to drawing, explaining: "Drawing is not just reproducing contours, it is not just the line; drawing is also the expression, the inner form, the composition, the modelling. See what is left after that. Drawing is seven-eighths of what makes up painting."
...Ingres's choice of subjects reflected his literary tastes, which were severely...