Portrait of Adolphe-Marcellin Defresne
Signed and dated in graphite at lower right, Ingres Del. 1825.
Within a few short weeks following his return to Paris in 1824, Ingres went from being one of the most maligned artists of his generation to one of the most celebrated. This reversal of fortune allowed the artist to free himself from the self- proclaimed drudgery of portraiture. He wrote, "I don't want to do [portraits] any more . . . it's a considerable waste of time, fruitless effort, given the dryness of the subject matter." The majority of his portrait drawings from this period were gifts to friends and acquaintances, not commissioned works.
Pictured here is the handsome Adolphe- Marcellin Defresne, knight of the Legion d'Honneur and future secretary-general of the Seine. Elegantly posed in a balletic posture and holding a quill in his right hand, he leans on a tall tilt-top desk befitting a gentleman of his station. Ingres alternated between the use of lighter and darker graphite, as seen in the emphatic line of Defresne's collar versus the soft shading of his squared chin.