Madame Moitessier

Madame Moitessier Painting by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

Madame Moitessier by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

Madame Moitessier by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was produced in 17th Century and is considered to be one of the famous artworks of Neo Classicism movement. The work can be viewed now at National Gallery, London


Medium: Oil Painting 

Subject(s): beauty, portrait, woman


Madame Moitessier is an oil painting produced in 1856 by French painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.

There was a second version of the portrait Madame Moitessier by Ingres which shows her standing. The work was completed in 1851.

Marie Clotilde Ines de Foucauld was the daughter of a civil servant who worked in the department of forests and waterways. She married to a rich banker and lace merchant Sigisbert Moitessier who was a widower twice of her age in 1842 thus becoming Madame Moitessier. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was approached through an intermediary, in 1844 with the idea of painting her portrait. He considered portraiture to be a lower form of art at this stage in his career than history painting and initially he refused Sigisbert’s request for portrait commissions. However, when Ingres the artist met Madame Moitessier personally, he was struck by her beauty and agreed to produce a picture of her.

The picture was left unfinished by Ingres and after waiting seven years the sitter complained. Ingres painted a standing portrait of Madame Moitessier in 1851(currently, National Gallery of Art, Washington) before returning to the seated portrait, the second version which he finally completed in 1856. The original intention of Ingres had been to include the sitter’s daughter Catherine who was little by the time Ingres came to complete the portrait she had grown up and thus Ingres left her out of the portrait.

The painting is influenced by the art of antiquity and the renaissance. The pose of Madame Moitessier with the hand touching her cheeks is derived from Herculaneum, an ancient Roman fresco of a goddess. To Ingres, Madam Moitessier represented the ideal of classical beauty. Titian’s famous painting ‘Portrait of a Lady’ inspired Ingres to add the mirror in the background of this painting.

The work can be viewed at National Gallery, London


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