Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
- Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
- Three studies for the figure of Stratonice
- signed Ingres (lower left) and inscribed in various places with notations regarding lighting
- pencil and black chalk, with stumping, on paper
- 39.4 by 28cm
Gallery Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York
John R. Gaines, Louisville, Kentucky (sold: Sotheby's, New York, 18th November 1986, lot 27)
Purchased at the above sale by the late owner
New York, Jan Krugier Gallery, The Presence of Ingres, Important Works by Ingres, Degas, Picasso, Matisse and Balthus, 1988, no. 28
Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin & Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Linie, Licht und Schatten. Meisterzeichnungen und Skulpturen der Sammlung Jan und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 1999, no. 69, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, The Timeless Eye. Master Drawings from the Jan and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection, 1999, no. 81, illustrated in colour in the cataogue
Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Miradas sin Tiempo. Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de la Coleccion Jan y Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2000, no. 95, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, La passion du dessin. Collection Jan et Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2002, no. 86, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Vienna, Albertina Museum, Goya bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2005, no. 14, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Das Ewige Auge - Von Rembrandt bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2007, no. 80, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
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From the very outset of his long career, Ingres was clearly strongly drawn to the subject of Antiochus and Stratonice, taken from Plutarch’s Life of Demetrius, the text of which he copied in his Notebook X. With its fashionably classical setting, yet totally contemporary themes of erotic, somewhat oedipal desires, political intrigue and generational conflict, the story was ideally suited to the cultural milieu of the time, and Ingres’ teacher, Jacques-Louis David, chose it for the painting with which he won the Prix de Rome in 1774. Plutarch’s text also provided the basis for Méhul’s ‘comédie héroïque,' Stratonice, which premiered in May 1792, and was revived regularly under the Empire. Ingres is known to have owned a copy of the script of this production, and even before his departure for Rome, he made two drawings of the subject. Established in Rome, Ingres announced in January 1807 that he would make a painting representing the story of Stratonice, but the appearance of this work is unknown, as the painting disappeared following the sale of the artist’s effects after his death in 1867. It is generally thought, though, that it followed the composition of a drawing in the Louvre (RF 1440). Two other early drawings of the subject survive, in Montauban and Boulogne, but Ingres’ next major exploration of the theme came only in 1834, when the Duc d’Orléans commissioned him to paint the subject, as a pendant to Delaroche’s painting, The Death of General Guise. Presumably in connection with this commission, Ingres painted the unfinished oil sketch now in Cleveland, in which we see for the first time the distinctive pose of Stratonice that the artist explores in the Krugier-Poniatowski drawing. This composition was then developed into the more complex and elaborate final painting, delivered to the Duc d’Orléans in 1840, and now in Chantilly (fig. 1). This was not, though, the end of the artist’s interest in this evocative subject. In 1858-60 he made a revised version of the earlier, simpler Cleveland sketch, executing a painting in oil on paper, which in 1983 was in a Philadelphia collection. Finally, Ingres made a reversed variant of the Chantilly painting, executed in a complex combination of oil, graphite and watercolour on paper laid down on canvas, a work, now in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, which is dated 1866, just one year before the artist’s death.
Given that Ingres was an artist who drew constantly throughout his career, and that he explored the subject of Antiochus and Stratonice a number of times over a period of almost 70 years, it is not, perhaps, surprising that there are many surviving drawings relating to his various versions of the subject. The great corpus of Ingres drawings in Montauban contains no fewer than 115 such studies (Vigne, 1995, nos. 37-151), and others are also to be found in various collections around the world. One that deserves particular mention, though, in relation to the Krugier-Poniatowski drawing is a fine sheet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. 63:66), which is a drapery study for the figure of Stratonice, showing her in more or less exactly the same pose as in the present drawing, but fully clothed (fig. 2). The comparison of the two drawings highlights the way that Ingres, in any drawing, focussed almost clinically on certain aspects of the subject in hand. In the New York drawing of Stratonice the figure’s features and emotions hardly exist, and the focus is entirely on the rendering of the forms and lighting of the drapery – treated with utter brilliance, but without any attempt to address the emotional aspects of the subject. In the Krugier drawing, by contrast, the twin foci are the pathos of the story, and the physical beauty of the protagonist, Stratonice. When a prodigiously gifted draughtsman like Ingres turns his attentions to those aspects of a subject, it is not surprising that the resultant drawing is one of the most moving and beautiful that he ever made.