Work The Triumph of Romulus over Acron
Department of Prints and Drawings: 19th century
Romulus vainqueur d'Acron
RMN-Grand Palais - Photo F. Raux
Prints and Drawings
This drawing is related to a work painted by Ingres in 1812 in Rome, The Triumph of Romulus over Acron, which depicts a founding episode of Roman history, inspired by Plutarch. In spite of the erroneous date marked on the drawing, it is a late memento of this painting, which is now in the Louvre.
A classical episode
The composition shows Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome, who has just triumphed over the Ceninenses, a people near Rome, following the rape of the Sabine women. Acron, king of the Ceninenses, is lying on the ground on the right. Romulus has taken the spolia opima and is taking them in a procession to Jupiter's temple. Ingres followed Plutarch's story of the Life of Romulus. The frieze-style composition is scattered with classical references, such as the rearing horse on the right, evoking a famous classical example, one of the two Dioscuri horses in the Piazza del Quirinale.
Decoration for Napoleon
Emperor of France, Napoleon was also king of Italy. As he was to go to Rome in 1812, several painters, including Ingres, were commissioned to produce works to decorate his future apartments at the Palazzo di Monte Cavallo in the Quirinale. The Triumph of Romulus over Acron was intended to decorate the second salon of the empress's apartment. The work was given to Napoleon III by Pope Pius IX and finally housed in the Louvre. Ingres made several drawings a long time after completing the painting. However, he (wrongly) dated them with the date he remembered having painted the picture. The Louvre has another large memento drawing of the same subject but with substantial variants, whereas this one reproduces the original canvas.
Stylization and archaism
The large drawn bas-relief certainly reflects the influence of Neoclassical sculptors and the search for "ideal beauty" which, according to Winckelmann's theories, could only be found in the respect of the classical. Contours are strongly accentuated and watercolor evokes the fresco appearance of the painting. Ingres was familiar with the practice of endlessly returning to old works to improve them and, as here, make them more stylized.
Bibliography- PRAT Louis-Antoine, Ingres, Paris, Milan, 5 Continents éditions, 2004, n 44.
Jean-Baptiste Dominique INGRES (Montauban, 1780-Paris, 1867)
The Triumph of Romulus over Acron
Pen, brown ink, watercolor over pencil on paper.
H. 31 cm; L. 50.7 cm
Gift of Coutan-Hauguet-Schubert-Milliet, 1883.
Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.
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