Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

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Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Portrait of Adolphe-Marcellin Defresne
16 11/16 x 11 1/2 inches (424 x 292 mm)
Thaw Collection.

By the 1820s, Ingres's exasperation with drawn portraits led him to complain: "I don't want to do [portraits] any more. ... It's a considerable waste of time, fruitless effort, given the dryness of the subject matter." Upon his 1824 return to Paris after eighteen years in Italy, Ingres generally eschewed making portraits. Among the exceptions to this rule are the artist's full-length portrait of Marcellin Defresne and one of his wife, Sophie Leroy Defresne, seated (see 2017.127). In 1824, Marcellin Defresne (1793-1869) became a knight of the Legion d'Honneur, an honor Ingres received in January 1825. Although all records concerning Defresne at the Legion d'Honneur were destroyed in a fire during the Commune, Hans Naef found several documents in the Archives nationales that define Defresne's life and character. Born in 1793, Defresne was thirty-two years old when he posed for Ingres. In June 1826, he was appointed to the prestigious post of secretary-general of the Seine, succeeding Baron Walckenaer, who was appointed prefect of the Nièvre near Burgundy. That month, Ingres drew the portrait of Defresne's young wife Sophie (1810-1831), née Leroy, whom he married in August 1825. Ingres may have known Defresne through Baron Walckenaer, his close friend. Both Ingres and Defresne shared a great love of music, and Defresne also owned at least two paintings by the artist, the portrait of Charles X, and the Baigneuse of 1807, both in the Musée Bonnat, Bayonne.
Sophie Defresne was the younger daughter of Jean-Joseph, Baron Le Roy a member of the chamber of deputies and the counsel general of the department of the Seine. Fifteen years old when the couple married, she had only one child, a son born in 1830, before she died at the age of twenty in 1831. The paired portraits passed through the families of the sitters until 1976 and remain in their original frames.


Signed and dated at lower right, in pencil, Ingres Del. 1825.

Adolphe-Marcellin Defresne (1793-1869); Charles-Victor) Guillaume-Marcellin Comte de Fresne, Paris (descendant of Defresne, who died without issue in 1891); Mme Edouart-Henri Marcier de Lostende, born Cecile-Elisabeth-Philiberte de Lostende de Reignefort (died in Paris in 1916; widow of the son of Marie-Phillipe Mercier and of his wife, née Adèle Leroy, who was Sophie's sister), or from her daughter Marquise Jean-Marie-Barthelemy de Las Cases, nee Madeleine Marcier de Lostende de Las Cases (died at the Chateau de la Presle near Moulins 1898); Jean Marie-Barthelemy Marquis de Las Cases (widower of the last; died 1923); Amedee Gay (died 1957) and his wife, née Jacqueline des Las Cases (daughter of the former, died 1976); Marianne Feilchenfeldt and her son, Walter Feilchenfeldt, Zurich; Eugene V. (1927-2018) and Clare E. (1924-2017) Thaw, New York.
Associated names: 

Thaw, Eugene Victor, former owner.
Thaw, Clare, former owner.


The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY, "Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection", 2017. Exh. cat., no. 204, repr.
The Thaw collection of master drawings : acquisitions since 2002. New York : Morgan Library & Museum, 2009, no. 18, repr.