Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867)
Letter from Ingres to Charles-Pierre-Michel Forestier, 7 April 1807, page 3
Purchased on the Fellows Capital Fund, 1969; MA 2701
Sent to his prospective father-in-law six months after arriving in Rome, this letter
indicates that the artist's spirits had improved. Ingres was decidedly entranced
by the many masterpieces on public view, such as Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel
and "the beautiful paintings of Perugino." He also includes news about recent
developments at the French Academy in Rome, notably the sudden death of
the director, Joseph Benoît Suveée (1743–1802). Ingres writes of the latter's
replacement, Guillaume Lethière, of whom he would later create a masterful
portrait: "I really like M. Lethière, and I hope that I will get along with him as
well as I did with M. Suvée."
the loud screamers were gone, but there were still a couple who, however, are now fairly quiet, and for their own good, they do well. So the day of the death of the Director, in the morning (and having for a very long time been bothered by blood rushing to his head) he told a friend that he felt very bad, but that he did not want to say anything to his wife so as not to distress her, and you will know, to his credit, that his marriage was very similar to yours; he went out as usual and, at two o'clock after lunch, he called the amiable couple. He had to reprimand one of them, which I will tell you about in due time, but considering the cause, did not inculpate the accused very much. Unfortunately, the student replied so quietly that Mr. Suvée, at that moment, muttering a few words, let his head fall on the table at which he sat and it was over. I thought I should give you all these details, and that's the straight truth about this unfortunate event. In Rome, people know these details, but you know how the innocent always pay for the guilty, I am thus not surprised at what is said in Paris. As for me, you know the rest, and how I have lived with him, and I sleep in peace. Mr. Pâris would be the man we need, but as second best I like Mr. Lethière very much and hope to get along with him as well as I did with Mr. Suvée. I will be much obliged to you for keeping me informed about this appointment, which still seems dubious acording to the claims by Mr. Lemonnier, whom I do not know at all. I am very grateful for what you and my dear Julie do for me and my dad, from whom I no longer receive any news, which gives me the greatest concern for my family, and yet he has to have heard from me as I wrote at the same time to Mr. de Mortarieu and Mr. de Mortarieu answered, in truth, with a very tedious letter full of for a mayor of Montauban. Under the guise of being frank with me the wretched man let me [hear] garbage, not sparing me any, telling me that I have not been told everything, that they flatter me, [for] fear of discouraging me, he said that they were about to take down and not to exhibit [the portrait] of the Emperor and all the comings and goings concerning this, the appeals that have been made in my favor [saying that I would be] a lost young man if that happened. The Legislature and Mr. Denon in deliberation and then he gives me his advice, his, about art and much other such drivel, but they are arrived a little late and have only produced a moment of bad humor, mostly against
than for the thing itself, although it is very serious, but I had no more room for...
and fret, since what happened was enough, and I am now well up on this. [I]… would not be surprised that the Legislature, through weakness or through ignorance, should keep the painting... and did not have it redone by another. You see I'm prepared and even philosophical, I that I am so pleased with myself, and so convinced of their filthy ignorance, and especially by my thoughts [that] about art and the great evidence that the masterpieces that I see every [day] give me that from now on, the more they persecute me, the more I believe they honor me. And [therefore]... Mr. Forestier, if I guessed it, tell me frankly, I will not get angry, I [assure you]... I hope that one day I will force them to recognize me and confess to having been asses when they [insulted] me. But I'll bear you the highest obligation, when you write to my dad, if you [feel] you have to correct the one hundred stupidities that the Mayor himself must have told him... and concerning that, my dad will have more confidence in you than in anyone else, and it will be... a lot, as well as the needs and petty cash expenses. I have no doubt [of the willingness] that my friend Couderc will place on it. However, I am a little angry at him for [not having] yet written to me. I would be very angry if Mr. Bortolini should refuse or neg[lect] your request, but I write to him at this moment. As for the good Gregorius, [I know] I owe a lot to his friendship and I appreciate it, I am preparing not to be... ungrateful towards him. As for the jealousy that the drawings I made inspire in Mr. Naudet, they...
[In brown ink on page 2] Mr. Granger appreciates your kind thoughts and asks me to tell you a thousand good things.