Ingres was a great painter of the early 19th century. This was a time of new and changing art styles as Revolutions sprung up around the world on daily basis. Ingres was from France, art capital of the world at the time, much how Italy was the great center of art during the Renaissance. It was the Neoclassical style that Ingres fashioned himself after. Recalling the art of ancient Greece and Rome, Ingres painted histories and portraits. His art was the opposite of that of another French painter, Eugene Delacroix. Delacroix was a painter who worked in the new Romantic style, something that went against the very foundations of Neoclassicism.
Though Ingres painted many historical scenes as was very common in the Neoclassical tradition, it wasn’t what he was best remembered for. It is his figures that have lasted the test of time, those portraits and other paintings for which he is best known today. One such painting is Ingres’ The Grand Odalisque. This painting portrays an odalisque, a concubine, lounging on a bed of fine sheets and silk watching the viewer over one shoulder. Many people have considered this painting a break from Ingres usual style as there is more at work here than the simplicity of Neoclassicism. The long body of the odalisque is somewhat disproportional, an echo of Mannerism, an art form very against the proportions and strict idealism and realism of the classical tradition. Her head is too small for the rest of her body. The back is long, twisted at a slightly unnatural angle. The limbs too are very long, yet graceful at the same time, not at all awkward as we would imagine them to be.
Another very famous painting of Ingres’ is The Vow of Louis XIII. This one, unlike The Grand Odalisque, is much more in keeping with Ingres usual repertoire. The King Louis XIII kneels down in this painting before the Virgin Mary who is holding the infant Christ. He offers up to her his crown and scepter. But it is not only the subject matter that is Neoclassical. The painting is very structured. There are tiers, showing a kind of hierarchy of the figures. The king kneels down, lowest out of all the figures. Above him angels and cherubs pull back the curtains, showing Mary and Jesus, the highest in the religious hierarchy, who look down at the Louis XIII and his vow.Ingres was one of two artists who laid the foundation for art throughout the 1800s. His style and subjects have continued to be used and have been built upon for new styles of art until today.