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Ingres at the Morgan | Thaw Conservation Center

Materials and Methods

Read more: Introduction | Media | Paper | Drawing boards | Revising compositions | Resources

Study for Portrait
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867)
Portrait of Guillaume Guillon-Lethière, 1815
Graphite
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

Whether he was making portraits of family and friends or preliminary studies for important history paintings, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867) created drawings of great subtlety and nuance. Close examination of the paper and media allows us to glimpse the working methods of one of the greatest draftsmen and portraitists in French history. Though he employed the simplest of materials—primarily graphite on fine paper—Ingres achieved masterful results. This feature, based on careful study of sixteen exceptional drawings in the Morgan's collection, explores the physical evidence of Ingres's artistic process, from his use of prefabricated drawing boards to his strategies for transferring drafts from one sheet to another.

Some of the images presented here were made with Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), which provides curators and conservators with a valuable tool for the close examination and documentation of drawings. This technique uses photographs taken in raking light to compile a digital topographical map of the surface of an object, revealing information about the manufacture and materials of a work of art.

This online presentation was created in conjunction with the exhibition Ingres at the Morgan (9 September–27 November 2011), organized by Esther Bell, Moore Curatorial Fellow. The study of Ingres's materials and methods was undertaken by Morgan Adams, graduate student at the Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, in consultation with Margaret Holben Ellis, director of the Morgan's Thaw Conservation Center. We are indebted to historian Peter Bower for his work on Dutch papers and to curator and paper conservator Marjorie Cohn for her study of prefabricated drawing boards.

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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.