The Thinking 

Father and Daughter

June 26, 2012



INGRESas we have discussed before, was famous for his portraits, including official portraits of Napoleon and idealistic renderings of nineteenth-century European artistocrats. While living in Rome, he also executed many drawings of wealthy tourists, usually family portraits full of character and charm. Here is his drawing of Charles Hayard and his daughter, Marguerite, a work which captures the subtle tenderness between a father and his child. The girl depicted  is precocious, intelligent and clearly proud of her father. They seem utterly comfortable in each other’s arms. Ingres was fascinated with the clothing of the period and its interplay with personality. Here, the father’s stiff high collar and military cuffs  contrast with the slim, fragile child he clasps. The drawing examines the ever-powerful tension between masculine and feminine, both necessary and incomplete. Neither smiles here, at least not in the way we tend to think of smiles today; both are content.

Ingres is famous for saying, “Le dessin c’est la probité de l’art,” or “Drawing is the probity of Art,” so great was his conviction regarding the power of the simple outline. One of his inspirations was the British sculptor and illustrator John Flaxman, whose illustrations of Homer’s poems captured action and personality with simple outline and silhouette. How is it possible that lines on paper can bring so much to life?

Odysseus in the Underworld, John Flaxman, 1792

                                   ——- Comments ——

Thomas F. Bertonneau writes:

Lawrence Auster often comments on “Synchronicity,” the concept of meaningful, non-causal occurrences, about which Carl Jung wrote at length.

Just now, in taking a glance at The Thinking Housewife, I saw the entry on Ingres. Guess what? My afternoon was taken up with studying Charles Baudelaire’s essays on painting, in which about a third of the discussion concerns Ingres.

Laura writes:

Literary synchronicity is the work of bookish angels who are looking over our shoulders.  Most of the time they live in obscurity, but they have a  tendency to butt in and say, “Oh, and look at this.”  They can’t restrain themselves.

Mr. Bertonneau writes:

There is a bit more to my synchronicity story. The reason I was reading Baudelaire’s prose is that I wanted background for an essay on Baudelaire’s poem “Les femmes damnées,” in which lesbianism becomes the prime symbol of cultural decadence and the decline of civilization. (Not male homosexuality, interestingly enough.) This intention resonates with a paragraph in “Izzy’s” posting, also at The Thinking Housewife.

The Emersonian “Angel of the Library” was doing double-duty this afternoon.

Laura writes:

“Les femmes damnées.”

Darn. That would have been a good name for this website.

Drina writes:

It’s never too late for a subtitle. : – )

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