Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867)
Letter from Ingres to Jean-Germain-Désiré Amengaud, 19 February 1850
Purchased on the Fellows Fund, 1979; MA 3240
Charles Blanc's monumental Histoire des peintres, a comprehensive and illustrated
review of the history of European painting from the Renaissance onward, was
first published in 1861, though chapters on individual artists were printed as
installments and were available by subscription as early as August 1849. In this
indignant letter to the editor of the series, Jean-Germain-Désiré Armengaud
(1797–1869), Ingres explains why he had cancelled his subscription. The artist
refused to endorse a publication that propagated "trends [in painting] that are
entirely opposed to mine and that I believe to be dangerous.".
Paris, 19 February 1850, to Jean-Germain-Désiré Amengaud
Paris, 19 February 1850
In discontinuing my subscription to the History of Painters, I have only made
use of a right included in your prospectus. But your
letter appears to ask the reason for my decision, I will
tell you, sir; it is that the beginning of your work suggests
too many tendencies that are quite opposite to mine and that
I believe dangerous.
Your goal, you say, is the propagation of painting and
of the love of art. That, sir, is an important mission, because
it is also the propagation of sound doctrines and therefore
of those of the masterpieces of the Classical and noble style on which depend
the existence of art and its beautiful direction.
This language, sir, this profession of faith so often and
so publicly made by me should not surprise you
and everyone knows that any compromise in my conception
of my duty, as a matter of principle,
If, however, Sir, you think you lose too much by losing
my name and that I can spare you, on this occasion,
what you kindly describe as unpleasant for you in the highestdegree, I will renew my subscription, thinking all the time,
that you could have forgotten me and let me be in my corner,
regretful not to have been able to gain acceptance, in the arts, for what
I believe to be truth and beauty.
I am, Sir,
yours very truly
to Mr. Armengaux [sic] editor of the work "History of Painters"