Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres is often seen as the high priest of the conservative Classical tradition, in opposition to the progressive Romanticism of Eugène Delacroix. After studying at the Toulouse Academy, Ingres enrolled in the studio of David in 1796. Despite winning the Prix de Rome in 1801, he only took up the scholarship in 1806. By then, he had established himself with a series of immaculately executed portraits, including Napoleon I on His Imperial Throne (1806). While in Italy, he produced The Valpiçon Bather (1808) – an exotic theme that he would return to in 1863 with The Turkish Bath. Ingres also produced exquisitely rendered pencil portraits throughout his career. He provoked controversy with the expressive anatomical distortions that characterised his images of women – something that pre-figured the Modernist developments of twentieth-century artists such as Picasso. Combined with an evident sensuality, it arguably speaks to a more radical temperament hiding beneath the perfectly painted surface.
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