Odalisque and Slave
Signed, inscribed, and dated in graphite at lower left, J. INGRES / ROM. 1839.
Deeply disappointed by the relative failure of his Martyrdom of St. Symphorien at the Salon of 1834, Ingres, according to his pupil Henry Lapauze, "renounced work for the government and Salons, to work no more except . . . for friends." The present sheet is a near replica of the painting commissioned by Charles Marcotte d'Argenteuil in 1839, currently in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge. This masterful drawing summarizes the exotic tales of Arabia that had captured the imagination of early-nineteenth-century Paris. While the artist pictured a suggestively exposed odalisque, a musician playing a tambour, and a eunuch standing guard, a fourth and possibly fifth figure are implied. A spectator sits upon the divan, perhaps alongside a sultan who has just finished smoking his hookah.
While Ingres intended the drawing to be an independent work, the painstaking technique evident in such details as the mosaics in the background or the long silky tresses of the reclining nude suggest that it may have served as a model for an engraving.