French painter, born at Montauban, the son of a minor painter and sculptor, Jean-Marie-Joseph Ingres (1755-1814).
Jean-Dominique Ingres is a puzzling artist and his career is full of contradictions. Yet more than most artists he was obsessed by a restricted number of themes and returned to the same subject again and again over a long period of years. Ingres was a bourgeois with the limitations of a bourgeois mentality. The central contradiction of his career is that although he was held up as the guardian of Classical rules and precepts, it is his personal obsessions and mannerisms that make him such a great artist. Ingres ' technique as a painter was academically unimpeachable, he said paint should be as smooth `as the skin of an onion', but he was often attacked for the expressive distortions of his draughtsmanship; critics said, for example, that the abnormally long back of La Grande Odalisque (Louvre, 1814) had three extra vertebrae.
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