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Work The Forestier Family

Department of Prints and Drawings: 19th century

La famille Forestier

Prints and Drawings
19th century

Prat Louis-Antoine

This is a family portrait of Ingres's fiancée, Julie Forestier, with her parents and uncle. It was drawn by the artist shortly before his departure for Rome in the autumn of 1806. The geographical separation of the couple led to the abandonment of the marriage plans and Julie Forestier never married.

A group portrait

The five persons represented here are as follows, from left to right: Clotilde, the Forestier family's maid; Julie's uncle, Joseph Armand Sallé; Julie's mother, Marie-Jeanne-Julie née Sallé; her only daughter, Julie, then engaged to the painter Ingres; and finally, on the right, Julie's father, Charles-Pierre-Michel Forestier, attorney at the Parlement de Paris. The details in the portrait are anecdotal (the piano showing the girl's gift for music) or symbolic (a dog, representing fidelity).

A broken romance

This is a genuine romantic memento. Ingres drew the family portrait when he had to leave his fiancée Julie and spend four years at the French Academy in Rome (the Villa Medici) after winning the Prix de Rome in 1801. Once he had left, the pair decided to separate. Ingres married Madeleine Chapelle, a young milliner, in 1813. Julie Forestier did not marry and her misadventure even inspired her to write a short novel, Emma ou la fiancée. After they had broken up, she returned the drawing to Ingres, who made one (or two) copies.

A graphic masterpiece

Ingres produced a very large number of graphic works (more than 5,000 drawings) and the drawn portraits of many of his contemporaries (nearly 500) are regarded as being among the finest. The Louvre has some thirty graphite portraits in which the artist captures the features of the model and also the character. That of the Forestier Family is one of the best known on account of both the skill in the placing of the different figures and the delicacy of the drawing.


- NAEF Hans, Die Bildniszeichnungen von J.-A. D. Ingres, Berne, 1977-1980, t. I, chap. 11, et t. IV, n 33.

- PRAT Louis-Antoine, Ingres, Paris, Milan, 5 Continents éditions, 2004, n 4, p. 77.

- PRAT Louis-Antoine, Ingres 1780-1867, cat. exp. Paris, musée du Louvre, 2006, n 125.

Technical description

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

    The Forestier Family


  • Graphite on paper.

    H. 23.3 cm; L. 30.9 cm

  • Gift of Coutan-Hauguet-Schubert-Milliet, 1883.

    RF 1450

  • Prints and Drawings

    Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.

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Additional information about the work

"Ingres fecit 1806."