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Work Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière

Department of Paintings: French painting

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière

© 2005 Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier

Paintings
French painting

Author(s):
De Vergnette François

This child's portrait, as well as those of her parents, shows Ingres' closeness to Raphael and the Florentine painters prior to his departure for Italy. When they were shown at the 1806 salon, they were labeled "Gothic" because of their linear precision and enamel-like finish, in the manner of the "primitives".

The ambiguity of adolescence

Ingres' three-quarter length portrait of a rather slightly-built adolescent against an Île-de-France landscape exudes great freshness. The young woman's gaze is candid and her mousseline dress a virginal white, but her full lips, ermine boa and elbow gloves all evoke female sensuality. Ingres imbues this portrait of an adolescent, the only one he painted, with all the sensuality of his portraits of adult women.

A portraitist in spite of himself

Ingres' portrait of Mademoiselle Rivière, along with those of her parents, form a kind of triptych. They were painted in Paris in 1806, just before he left for Rome. Ingres, who aspired to be a history painter, earned his livelihood painting portraits, especially at this point in his career. This portrait and that of Mme Rivière were shown at the 1806 Salon along with "Portrait of Napoleon on the Imperial Throne" (Musée de l'Armée, Paris). Critics reproached the picture's "Gothicness", drawing a parallel between Ingres' style and that of primitives such as Van Eyck, who were only then being discovered. Ingres, although hurt by these criticisms, was still determined to become the artistic "revolutionary" he envisaged in his writings.

Stylized drawing

The girl's pose is reminiscent of Raphael, whom Ingres revered. The characteristics of the drawing, however, unconcerned with anatomical accuracy, are all Ingres' own. Caroline Rivière's neck is very elongated, and the bridge of her nose flows uninterrupted into the brow, forming a strange curve. Unlike the abstraction of the contours, the treatment of the clothes is illusionist. The color of this portrait is also remarkable. The picture's overall clarity is enhanced by the model's ebony black hair and mustard brown gloves.

Bibliography

Toussaint Hélène, Les Portraits d'Ingres, Paris, éditions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1985, p. 28-31.

Technical description

  • Jean-Auguste-Dominique INGRES (Montauban, 1780 - Paris, 1867)

    Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière

  • H. 1 m; W. 0.70 m

  • Bequest of Mme Paul Rivière, née Sophie Robillard, daughter-in-law of the model, 1870

    M.I. 1447

  • Paintings

    Denon wing
    1st floor
    Daru
    Room 75

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Additional information about the work

Signed bottom right: Ingres