(Montauban 1780 - Paris 1867)
The Gatteaux Family
Signed, dated and dedicated Ingres à Son / Excellent ami / Gatteaux 1850 in pencil at the lower right.
442 x 609 mm. (17 3/8 x 24 in.)
The Gatteaux family owned a large country house in Neauphle, near Versailles, where Ingres often stayed as a guest in the 1820s. He returned there after the death of his first wife Madeleine in 1849, and it was at this time that he produced the present family group. The Gatteaux Family is unique in Ingres’s oeuvre, both in being a retrospective group portrait, as well as in its method of composition. Using single portraits made at different times, with The Gatteaux Family Ingres has created a composite family group and placed the whole in an elegant interior setting.
Ingres has here assembled three engravings by Claude-Marie-François Dien, each after his own earlier portrait drawings, of Edouard Gatteaux, seated at the right of the composition, his father, the engraver and medallist Nicolas-Marie Gatteaux (1751-1832), seated at the left, and his mother Louise-Rosalie Gatteaux, née Anfrye (1761-1847), in the centre. Printed on thin paper, these three engravings were carefully silhouetted and laid down by Ingres onto a much larger sheet, which he then overdrew in pencil in such a way that the seams between the different sheets of paper are hardly visible to the naked eye.
Only the upper part of the figure of Edouard Gatteaux in this large sheet, however, is in the form of an engraving. To this bust-length print, Ingres has added, executed in fine pencil, the lower half of his friend’s body. Also drawn by the artist in pencil, standing to the left of Edouard Gatteaux, is the figure of Paméla de Gardanne (1824-1862), the orphaned granddaughter of Nicolas-Marie Gatteaux. Raised in the Gatteaux household, she married the engineer Edouard Brame (1818-1888) in 1846, and the present sheet eventually descended in the Brame family. Ingres also drew the interior setting, and, in the background at the extreme left, the small figure of a woman in an adjoining room, who has been identified as Edouard Gatteaux’s cousin, a Mme. (Eugène?) Anfrye.
Ingres’s original drawings of M. and Mme. Gatteaux, drawn in 1828 and 1825, respectively, together with the bust-length portrait drawing of their son Edouard, dated 1834, all belonged to Edouard Gatteaux and were destroyed in the fire at his home on the rue de Lille in Paris in May 1871. Their appearance is recorded, however, in engravings made after them by Claude-Marie-François Dien in the 1830s, as well as drawn copies of all three portraits by an unknown hand, which are now in the Louvre.
It is interesting to note that, in this large composite drawing of The Gatteaux Family, Ingres was creating an imaginary family group. In 1850, when the drawing was made, Nicolas-Marie Gatteaux had been dead for eighteen years and Louise-Rosalie Gatteaux for three, while Edouard Gatteaux, seen here as a young man, was aged sixty-two. The two drawn portraits of Paméla de Gardanne and Mme. Anfrye, however, would seem to correspond to their proper ages at the time the drawing was made.
While the upper part of Edouard Gatteaux in this group portrait is composed of the Dien engraving after Ingres’s lost bust-length portrait drawing of 1834, the lower half of the figure was newly drawn by the artist. (Ingres may, however, have referred to a three-quarter length portrait of Edouard Gatteaux, in a similar but not identical pose to that seen in the present sheet, which is recorded in an engraving by Achille Réveil. Réveil’s engraving, dated 1851, shows Ingres’s friend seated at a table with his work tools before him, and may record a lost drawing of the same approximate date as the bust-length portrait of 1834.) It appears that, for The Gatteaux Family, Ingres combined Dien’s bust-length engraving with an entirely new conception of the lower half of Gatteaux’s body, developed from that of the lost three-quarter length portrait drawing engraved by Réveil. This is further suggested by the existence of a preparatory pencil study for the torso and costume of the seated figure of Edouard Gatteaux, similar in pose and detail to the same figure in this drawing of The Gatteaux Family, in the collection of the Musée Ingres in Montauban.
A large preparatory study by Ingres for the entire composition of The Gatteaux Family, on several sheets of joined tracing paper, is likewise in the Musée Ingres in Montauban. This sizeable drawing shows the seated figures full-length, a concept that Ingres abandoned in the final drawing. Also in the Musée Ingres is a half-length pencil study6 for the standing figure of Paméla de Gardanne in the present sheet.
Ingres produced only three other comparably large and complex, multifigured portrait group drawings, all dated much earlier in his career: The Forestier Family of 1806 in the Louvre, The Family of Lucien Bonaparte, dated 1815, in the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, and The Constantin Stamaty Family of 1818 in the Louvre. The present sheet is the last and largest of the four, and the most visually complex.
This large drawing of The Gatteaux Family was reproduced as an engraving by Achille Réveil in 1851, the year after it was made. The engraving was included in Albert Magimel’s magisterial compendium of illustrations of Ingres’s work, the Oeuvres de J.A. Ingres, published in 1851, and it is likely that Ingres made the present sheet with the intention of having it reproduced for this publication. As Patricia Condon has recently noted of the present sheet, ‘This drawing, done specifically for 1850 Magimel/Réveil publication of Ingres’ collected works, documents both Ingres’s connections to the [Gatteaux] family and his experimentation with unconventional techniques in the context of a highly visible publication.’
The present sheet has long been admired as one of Ingres’s most significant works on paper. As early as 1863 it was described by one writer as the finest drawing in the Gatteaux collection, ‘a marvelous work, the sight of which brings great pleasure.’ The eminent scholar Walter Pach discussed this drawing at length in his book on Ingres, published in 1939: ‘For those who see no progress in the master’s work, who think that his phenomenal talent remains the same throughout his long life, I would recommend the study of the Portrait of the Gatteaux Family, of 1850…When the painter had the kind thought of creating a family group for his comrade (perhaps it was because the latter has assumed the charge of his finances, at the death of Madeleine, in 1849) he gave proof that he had gone beyond what must seem the unsurpassable perfection of the earlier group [the Family of Lucien Bonaparte of 1815]…Now, when he is seventy (just twice the age he was when he did the Bonaparte drawing) he is no less a master of line; but a comparison of the two masterpieces must convince us that the later work has added to his linear quality through form relationships, like those of a grand sculpture in low relief. And still his work is watched over by the antique genius. Its effect is less obvious, but no less certain, than in the family portrait of thirty-five years before: in these later likenesses, of people he knew so well, he is still the lover of the classics, even when he renders every detail of dress, every lock of hair as it comes out from under the lady’s lace cap or as it falls in characteristic fashion over the forehead of one of the men. We enjoy the charming glimpse of a distant room and a figure in it, but that well-marked incident cannot distract the artist from the great front plane, where the chief personages come up not merely into physical existence and nearness, but into a psychological impressiveness hardly inferior to that in one of those portrait groups where the Roman sculptor has rendered his touching homage to the companionship of a husband and wife.’
Extensively published and widely exhibited since 1881, the present sheet remained in the collection of Edouard Gatteaux and his descendants until 1931. In 1932, The Gatteaux Family was acquired by the American bibliophile and collector Douglas H. Gordon, Jr. (1902-1986), in whose collection it remained for over fifty years. Gordon’s collection of drawings included works by Italian, Dutch, American and, above all, French and English artists. Some 215 drawings from the Gordon collection were bequeathed to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 1986.
A student of Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres won the Prix de Rome in 1801, although due to a lack of government funding he was unable to take up his scholarship at the Académie de France in Rome until 1806. Although his pension expired in 1810, he remained in Rome for a further ten years. The city was at this time ruled by the French, and Ingres received commissions for paintings to decorate both the Villa Aldobrandini, the official residence of the French Lieutenant-Governor of Rome, and Napoleon’s palace at Monte Cavallo. He also found patrons among the French officials in the city, whose portraits he painted, as well as members of the royal court in Naples, led by Napoleon’s sister Caroline Murat and her husband Joachim, rulers of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. With the French withdrawal from Rome in March 1814 and the fall of Napoleon, however, Ingres found himself bereft of official commissions, and turned to making portrait drawings of French and foreign visitors to the city. These pencil portraits, drawn with minute detail as autonomous works of art, proved very popular and served to confirm Ingres’s reputation, allowing him to survive his difficult, penurious years in Rome.
In 1820 Ingres received a commission for a large canvas of The Vow of Louis XIII, intended for the cathedral of his native Montauban. Painted in Florence and sent to Paris to be exhibited at the Salon of 1824, it won Ingres considerable praise and established his reputation as a painter. He then spent a period of ten years in Paris, where he consolidated his reputation as a history painter and began receiving portrait commissions. This was followed in 1834 by an appointment as director of the Académie de France in Rome, Ingres remaining in the post until his final return to France in 1842. The last fifteen years of his career saw Ingres firmly established as an influential and highly respected figure in artistic circles, and one of the foremost artists in France. For many years an influential professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Ingres received the honour of a retrospective exhibition at the Exposition Universelle of 1855.
The husband of his niece, Edouard Brame, Paris, until 1888
His son, Paul Brame, Paris, until 1908
Mme. Paul Brame, Paris
Her son, Henri Brame, Paris Galerie Hector Brame, Paris, by 1931
Galerie Paul Cassirer, Berlin, in 1931
M. Knoedler & Co., New York, in 1931
Purchased from them in 1932 by Dr. Douglas Huntly Gordon, Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland (Lugt 1130a)
Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 6 July 1987, lot 55
Masataka Tomita, by February 1988
Acquired from him by Jan Krugier and Marie-Anne Poniatowski, Geneva.