Characteristically, Ingres produced a number of preparatory drawings for this commission, the majority of which are now housed in the Musée de Montauban.1 One important factor, however, that seems originally to have been overlooked by the artist was the specific wording Louis XIII used in his vow, in which he undertook to “reconstruct the high altar of the Cathedral Church of Paris, including a representation of the Virgin holding her Beloved Son in her arms” with an effigy of himself “at the feet of the Son and his Mother, offering them our crown and sceptre.” This seeming oversight led to Ingres's beginning the commission by portraying the kneeling Louis XIII beneath the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, a modello of which is also in the Musée de Montauban (Fig. 1). It was for this composition that the present sheet was undoubtedly a preparatory study, with the Virgin standing with her hands clasped in prayer looking down towards the area that Louis XIII was due to occupy below her. It seems to have been at this point in the project that Ingres either realised or was made aware of the importance of including Christ within the composition and this led to his changing the position of the Virgin so that in the painting she is shown seated, holding the Christ Child in her arms.
1. G. Vignes, Dessins d'Ingres, Catalogue raisonné des dessins du musée de Montauban, Paris 1995, pp. 86-102
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