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Ingres at the Morgan | Thaw Conservation Center

Materials and Methods

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

Fig. 1. Ingres drew this portrait in graphite and used white chalk to highlight details.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Portrait of Marcotte Genlis, 1852. Thaw Collection.

Fig. 2. Here Ingres added a red and green watercolor wash.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Portrait of a Boy, ca. 1793–94. Purchased on the Sunny Crawford Von Bülow Fund, 1978, 1982.

Fig. 3. In the lower right, Ingres used white chalk to enhance his depiction of feathers.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Odalisque and Slave, 1839. Thaw Collection.


Ingres skillfully employed all of the prevailing drawing media of his time: graphite, chalk, and pen and ink. Although he drew portraits almost exclusively in graphite, he occasionally used white chalk or watercolor to highlight a detail of his sitter's costume, as we can see in Portrait of Marcotte Genlis (fig. 1) and Portrait of a Boy (fig. 2).

His drawing Odalisque and Slave is remarkable for the cohesive use of graphite, black and white chalk, and watercolor washes, which he combined so seamlessly that it can be challenging to distinguish among them. In this sensuous scene, Ingres plays with differences in his media's color, transparency, sheen, and texture to communicate the tactile qualities of the subjects depicted—from the cool, smooth floor tiles to the elaborate woven textiles. In the lower right (fig. 3), for example, the "fluffy" texture of white chalk enhances the feathers of the fan.

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