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Ingres image

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867)
Portrait of Guillaume Guillon-Lethière, 1815
Pencil on wove paper
Signed and inscribed at lower right, M. de Ingres / a Mad.lle Lescot / ...
11 x 8 3/4 inches (280 x 221 mm.)
Bequest of Therese Kuhn Straus in memory of her husband, Herbert N. Straus, 1977; 1977.56
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Born in Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe, in 1760, Guillaume Guillon-Lethière was the illegitimate child of a king's prosecutor and a freed black slave. After displaying a youthful aptitude for draftsmanship, he moved to Paris at the age of fourteen and eventually established himself as a formidable history painter. After securing influential allies, such as Lucien Bonaparte, he was appointed director of the French Academy in Rome. Ingres was beginning his second year as a pensionnaire when Lethière arrived in October 1807. From 1808 to 1818, Ingres executed no fewer than ten portraits of Lethière, including this virtuoso sheet depicting the middle-aged director in all of his convivial pomposity.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.