Letter from Ingres to Marie-Anne-Julie Forestier, 19 October 1806, page 2
Gift of the Fellows, 1968
In this long, melancholy note to his fiancée, Ingres laments his intense homesickness during his first days in Rome. He had arrived the previous week to begin his residency at the Villa Medici, after a long journey via Turin, Milan, Lodi, Piacenza, Parma, Reggio, Modena, Bologna, and finally Florence. He writes, "I lie down from nine at night until six in the morning, I do not sleep, I roll around in my bed, I cry, I think continuously of you...." Nine months later, Ingres would break his engagement, citing his unwillingness to return to Paris after the negative reviews his paintings had received at the Salon.
six o'clock when I get up, I do not sleep, I roll over in my bed, I cry, I think of you constantly, and I go look at your portrait, which calms me a little, but without making me happy, quite the opposite. Sometimes, in my fatal grief, I wish never to have seen you, but this lasts only the time to think it. My charming friend, my consoling angel, how your sweet words are in agreement with your kind qualities: he who hears you would see you. With what sorrow I learned the details of our sad separation. Through this account, dearest, I left you twice. Ah! how dear to me also is this ring, token of our love and loyalty! How cruel to you is your father! God forbid that I want to belittle him in your eyes, I should not succeed, even though I should have the guilty wish, but I must admit, my dear friend, that he is sometimes very unkind, he who is so good. He is not like our good mother Forestier, who loves us completely, doesn't she, my dear? I will also write to her separately and it will certainly be in her reply that you will write to me, formally, but a little less so than in your father's. I like her, this dear mother, almost as much as you, because she is so good. We mislead her, it is true, but what harm are we doing? None. Were she to know it, she could not even scold us, and so, my darling, do not deprive me of all that gives me comfort now and helps me to bear, though with great difficulty, the awful void