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Ingres in Reproduction

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One aspect of the historiography of nineteenth-century art has been the virtual exclusion from serious attention of the reproductive engravings that played such an important role in establishing the reputations of the painters of the period. Benjamin's well-known essay on ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ has led to a disproportionate emphasis on the importance of lithography and photography as harbingers of a new age, and perhaps incidentally helped to exclude from consideration those photographers specializing in the reproduction of paintings, who could be considered to be in direct rivalry with the engravers. The significant investment which Ingres had in the reproduction of his works becomes much clearer when we look closely at his long and friendly relationship with the Italian engraver Luigi Calamatta. This article uses published and unpublished material relating to Calamatta and other engravers to clarify the point that Ingres was continually preoccupied with the need to have his work engraved, but unable to ensure the results that he desired – partly because each new print offered the possibility of amending a previous composition, and partly because he did not succeed in establishing a strong relationship with a dealer such as Goupil. Ingres's relation to lithography is also considered, in relation to his own practice and that of the lithographer Sudre, who reproduced some of his works. Finally, the contribution of contemporary photographers to the reproduction of Ingres's work is summarised, with special emphasis on his mixed experiences with the most acclaimed reproduction photographer of the day, the Englishman Robert Jefferson Bingham.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: University of Bristol

Publication date: December 1, 2000


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