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  Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

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Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
 
 

The Source
1820
Oil on canvas, 83 x 163 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris




The Bather
1808
Oil on canvas, 146 x 97 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris




The Grand Odalisque
1814
Oil on canvas, 91 x 162 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris






The Grand Odalisque (detail)
1814
Oil on canvas, 91 x 162 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris




Paolo and Francesca
1819
Oil on canvas, 480 x 390 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Angers

 
 
 
 
 


Jupiter et Thetis
1811






The Turkish Bath
1862
Oil on canvas on wood, diameter 108 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris


 


Odalisque with a slave








Odalisque with a slave (detail)

 
 
 
 


L'Esperance




Male Torso
1800
oil on canvas
École des Beaux-Arts at Paris



The Ambassadors of Agamemnon in the Tent of Achilles
1801
oil on canvas
École des Beaux-Arts at Paris






Amedee-David- Marquis de Pastoret
1823
oil on canvas
Art Institute of Chicago






Venus at Paphos
1853
Musée d'Orsay at Paris






The Virgin with the Host
1854
Musée d'Orsay at Paris



The Violinist Niccolo Paganini
1819
Pencil, 298 x 218 mm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

 
 
 
 


Roger Freeing Angelica
1819
Musee du Louvre, Paris






Roger Freeing Angelica (detail)







Madame Moitessier
1856
National Gallery, London




The Dream of Ossian
1813
Musee Ingres, Montauban, France




Luigi Cherubini and the Muse of Lyric Poetry
1842
Musee du Louvre, Paris



"OEDIPUS AND THE SPHINX"

1808; 188.x 149 cm (73x58 in): Musee du Louvre, Paris.
 


Oedipus and the Sphinx


Ingres increased the original measurements of this picture before exhibiting it at the Paris Salon, probably in 1825. The subject is the meeting between Oedipus and the sphinx in a desolate place at the gates of Thebes. The painting shows a rocky cave in which the nude figure of the prince confronts the mythical monster. Over his right shoulder, the hero wears a red mantle, which falls against his left thigh. His left foot is placed on a large rock, and two spears lean against his right shoulder, their points resting on the rock. To the left, the sphinx sits in the shadows on a pile of rocks. wrhile below, in the foreground, a foot and some bones are depicted. These are remains of the sphinx's victims -wayfarers she has eaten for failing to find an answer to her riddles. On the lower right of the composition, an animated male figure gestures in the distance.

The figure of Oedipus dominates the composition - it was even more prominent in the original smaller picture, the dimensions of which are outlined in white. The figure occupies a large part of the space and is the focus of lighting. In the larger painting, the dark space around the luminous body has increased, and the artist has arranged four points of light to provide counterpoint to the shape of the nude figure. These are: top left, the breast of the sphinx; top right, the Leonardo-style eye of light among the rocks; below right, the suffused gleam on the line of the horizon; and below left, the foot of a victim. The polygon obtained by joining the points of light contains the human elements of the scene. The composition can be seen to be based on two opposing curves, as indicated by the red lines. The principal figures are contained in a sort of almond shape that inclines towards the top left-hand corner.

Taking inspiration from the classical world and Neo-Platonic thought, Ingres has structured the hit man figure using geometric forms of precise symbolic significance. The picture contains a square, a triangle, and a circle. The square represents terrestrial solidity, stability, and balance and is placed in the space created between the bent and straight legs of Oedipus. The triangle, also a stable form, but dynamic and linked to the world of the emotions, is positioned between the arm and the torso, seats of the heart and the liter. The circle, enclosing the head, is the shape of harmony, without beginning or end.

The light that illuminates Oedipus and the rocks in the foreground comes from an undefined source but falls upon the stone and the golden skin of the figure. The nude figure stands out against the dark background, its outline drawn with sharp precision. This is very evident in the right leg. where the full light on the calf fades by fine gradations into the shadow of the foot and upper thigh. In the luminous masses on the left-hand side of the painting, the draughtsmanship is also very strong. The breast of the sphinx, defined by the light and the chiaroscuro, has a sumptuous maternal nudity that alludes to the later tragedy that was to befall Oedipus. (After he had solved the sphinx's riddle, the monster killed herself. Oedipus's fate was to marry his own mother who. when she discovered the truth, hanged herself.)



Oedipus and the Sphinx (detail)


The stable posture of Oedipus contrasts with the motion of the small figure on the right: the red and orange-red mantles unite the two figures, warming their flesh tones. In both cases, the material is creased or fluttering in the breeze in contrast with the smooth and solid mass of the naked flesh. This detail shows Oedipus meeting the eye of the sphinx, with his forefinger curved towards her breast. The clarity of the scene leaves no room for mystery or ambiguity.


Oedipus and the Sphinx (detail)

The sole of a human foot is illuminated against the darkness in the bottom left of the painting, while a pile of bones and a skull are outlined against the rocks in the foreground. Tide superb contours and lucidity of form outline a tragic still life. With the sphinx positioned above, space for the dead is contained in the left-hand side of the composition. Space for the living, in the form of the gesturing figure in the distance, is on the right. Oedipus is positioned firmly in the centre, his fate undecided.



Oedipus and the Sphinx, 1864, oil on canvas, 105.5 x 87 cm, The Walters Art Museum
 
 
 
 
 
 
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