Self-Portrait at the Age of 24. 1804. Oil on canvas. Mus'e Cond', Chantilly, France
Was initially rejected by critics (too Gothic), went to Rome (loved Italy) to earn a living painting portraits of French tourists. When he returned to Paris critics loved him in comparison with Delacroix.
Squat and small in stature and with a commonplace outward appearance, which is quite at odds with the affected elegance of his works and his Olympian propensities. One would at first take him for a retired businessman, wrote critic Theophile Silvestre of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. For years at Salon exhibitions, Parisian critics condemned Ingres ‘s paintings as Gothic because his classicism was different from that of his teacher, Jacques-Louis David.
Ingres won the Prix de Rome in 1801. A lifelong admirer of both Raphael and ancient art, he adored Italy. While residing in Rome, he often lived hand -to- mouth, surviving by drawing graceful pencil portraits of wealthy French people on holiday. He returned to Paris in 1824 to find his Vow of Louis XIII applauded by critics. Compared with the free brushwork and brilliant color of newcomer Eug'ne Delacroix, Ingres ‘s elegant paintings suddenly seemed more palatable.
From that point on, Ingres was generally honored by both the government and the artistic establishment. He was awarded commissions and assumed authority in the Acad'mie des Beaux-Arts. Eventually, his sincere belief in the supremacy of line over color and his own polished style mutated into dictatorship. Touch, said Ingres, is the device of charlatans to show their skill with the brush.