Although the dramatic frontality of the Jupiter and Thetis is in some ways a natural progression from Ingres’ ground-breaking 1806 depiction of Napoleon seated on his Imperial Throne, housed in the Musée de l’Armée, Paris (fig. 2), the dramatic contrast with the attenuated, smooth-skinned figure of Thetis was something entirely new, and the five-year delay in completing the picture clearly indicates how hard Ingres worked in arriving at his final solution. This creative process is well documented through a series of notes and some fifteen studies in the Musée Ingres, Montauban,2 but of those other drawings, none come close to representing the final composition of the painting as effectively as the present work. Indeed the function that these other drawings served in the project is very different to that of the present work and whilst the Montauban drawings demonstrate the artist’s focus on specific figures and poses in preparation for the finished painting, our drawing offers the artist’s complete solution for the composition, making it undoubtedly the most complete drawing known to exist for this, now iconic, commission.
Ingres’ use of watercolor in the present work also helps to separate it on a more technical level from the aforementioned drawings at Montauban relating to the Jupiter and Thetis project, all of which are executed in either lead or chalk. Parallels can instead be drawn between our work and another highly impressive and iconic work on paper, sold in these rooms in 2014,3 depicting Napoleon seated on his Imperial Throne, in which Ingres has also incorporated colored washes to heighten the level of finish in the drawing.
1. See P. Mesplé, ‘David et ses élèves toulousains,’ Archives d’Art Français, vol. XXIV, 1969, p. 99
2. G. Vigne, Dessins d'Ingres. Catalogue raisonné des dessins du Musée de Montauban, Paris, 1995, pp. 20-23, nos. 20-36.
3. Sale, London, Sotheby's, 9 July 2014, lot 97
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale