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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. 4. This watermark demonstrates that Ingres chose high quality paper from Robert Williams' English mill.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. View of Santa Maria Maggiore, ca. 1813–14. Thaw Collection.

Fig. 5. For this drawing, Ingres chose paper from a fine Dutch mill. Only a portion of the full watermark, "KOOL & Co.," is visible.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Portrait of Sylvester Douglas, Lord Glenbervie, 1816. Bequest of Mrs. Jacob M. Kaplan, 1998.

PAPER

Like many artists of his day, Ingres preferred fine wove paper—an eighteenth-century innovation—over traditional laid paper because its smooth, uniform surface was receptive to even the finest drawn lines. At the same time, the surface of wove paper had just enough texture, or "tooth," to hold the relatively soft media, such as graphite and chalk, that Ingres favored. This surface was essential to Ingres's drawing technique and yet inconspicuous—in these fine white sheets there is nothing to distract the viewer from the subtlety and grace of the artist's line. The wire moulds used to make laid paper, on the other hand, left a rougher surface that was not well suited to fine drawing.

Western wove paper was first made by James Whatman I in England in the 1750s, although it was not widely used until the end of the century. English paper manufacturers were foremost among the producers of fine wove papers, and—not surprisingly—Ingres sought imported English wove papers for his drawings. Among the drawings in this exhibition, two watermarks identify two different paper mills, one in England and one in Holland. A watermark is not a guarantee that a particular sheet was made at the mill identified by the mark, as moulds were valuable implements that were sometimes purchased and reused by other papermakers. Still, watermarks help to localize papers by providing a likely date range and region of manufacture. These two marks demonstrate that Ingres was seeking high-quality materials.

The first watermark (fig. 4), found on the paper Ingres used to draw View of Santa Maria Maggiore, reads "RWILLIAMS," for the English papermaker Robert Williams of Eyehorne Street Mill in Hollingbourne, near Maidstone, Kent, which began making wove paper in the early 1790s. (A similar watermark is found on an 1807 drawing by Ingres, View of Villa Medici, Rome, in the Harvard Art Museum collection.)

The second watermark (fig. 5) is not from an English mill but a Dutch one. Ingres's Portrait of Sylvester Douglas, Lord Glenbervie, has been trimmed so that only a portion of the mark is preserved: "OL & Co." The full mark would have read "KOOL & Co.," for papermaker Jan Kool of the De Bonsem Mill in the Dutch town of Koog aan de Zaan. Kool operated the mill from 1774 to 1816 and his nephew continued the operation until his death in 1837. They produced papers used by many early nineteenth-century French artists.

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