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Ingres Chez Les Fauves

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The Bain turc, more than any other Ingres work, escaped the claims of normative art history and spoke to a radical aesthetic community intent on framing a new art. This essay on the reception of Ingres's figure painting reads responses to the Bain turc at the small Ingres retrospective the Society of the Salon d'Automne organized in 1905, and in 1907 when his Grande Odalisque was challenged by the elevation of Manet's Olympia to the Louvre.

Three communities laid claim to Ingres at this time. Scholars like Lapauze and Momméja ratified the Bain turc for the museum community and for its owner, the Prince de Broglie. The Fauvist avant garde had other goals in arranging the retrospective. It is argued that the Bain turc, and the two dozen pencil studies exhibited with it, changed the visual orientation of artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Vallotton.

The third group, standing between the artists and official gate-keepers, were the critics. Some claimed Ingres for classicism and the French Tradition (albeit one skewed by an octagenarian's sexual longing). Left and Jewish critics close to the Salon rejected the academic authority figure, proclaiming the value of his nudes, line drawing and distorting arabesque. The debate crystallized when Olympia was hung opposite the Grande Baigneuse. Matisse and Apollinaire judged the Manet to be passé, and soon afterwards the pro-Cubist writers Rivière and Lhote saw in the Grande Baigneuse the model for a revolution in the concept of drawing.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Australian National University

Publication date: 2000-12-01

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