Ingres’ Textile Portraits

Baudelaire comments on portraits in his famous essay The Painter of Modern Life. Portraits … “are clothed in the costume of their own period. They are perfectly harmonious because everything – from costume and coiffure down to gesture, glance and smile (for each age has a deportment, a glance and a smile of its own) – everything, I say, combines to form a completely viable whole.”

So here is Ingres with a few of his beautiful portraits. They are portraits of textiles. Beautiful scarves and shawls.

| Ingres, La Comtesse de Tournon, 1812, Countess Hanssonville, 1845, La grande odalisque, 1814 |

Could that possible be me sitting there? They are so tactile. No I’m sitting here in my easy wear fabric. But it’s hard not to imagine me wearing these garments. This is the beginning of the consumer society. Consumers dressing for the painting to show their status and for Ingres to test his fabric painting ability.

And ability he had. Ingres could capture the softness of a cashmere shawl or the touch of fine material lying on bare skin.

He had an incredible knowledge of dress and feel for all the paraphernalia of the period.

He captured things. Things that were all the rage in the 19th century for women both rich and poor. A source book for us all.

Julia Ritson

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