Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
La Grande Odalisque
Huile sur toile - 14.3 x 24.3 cm
Paris, private collection
Photo : Galerie Hubert Duchemin
11/11/13 - Art market - Paris - We are always quick to point out the pseudo-discoveries announced by the media in sensational articles so this time have carefully measured our steps before speaking out on a previously unknown work, all the more so as it is attributed to a major French painter.
Unusual as it may seem and although we did not initially believe the attribution, after having examined the painting at length, read the arguments published recently in a very clear presentation in a small catalogue , as well as discussed it thoroughly with various specialized art historians who have also studied the work, we are now convinced that this painting is indeed by Ingres and that it is a small, authentic replica of La Grande Odalisque at the Louvre. Everyone will of course make up his own mind but we strongly recommend they first go see for themselves at the Hubert Duchemin Gallery  where it is on view until 20 November, before making any pronouncements. It is hard to have an exact idea by just looking at a small image as certain very subtle points are only visible when looking at it directly or with the help of a high definition photograph (which can be downloaded here).
La Grande Odalisque at the Louvre was painted for Caroline Murat then exhibited at the Salon of 1819. Between the moment he produced it and its presentation at the Salon, Ingres made several changes, visible on the x-rays, in order to give it a more oriental feeling. We can see these elements - notably a bracelet on the Odalisque’s left arm and a different fly swatter from the other known versions - in an authentic replica formerly held in the collection of the sculptor, Triqueti. These similarities and the exact correspondence of the size prove that these two works are connected. This is further evidenced by the presence of incisions which appear in the version at the Duchemin gallery, meaning that the transfer was done by tracing. The most convincing hypothesis (in fact the only one which could possibly explain this) is that the new version comes directly from the Triqueti collection. This method of tracing to reproduce a composition is eminently characteristic of Ingres as demonstrated in the catalogue and there exist many authentic replicas of Ingres’ works presenting the same elements.
While all of these clues naturally indicate an original work produced by Ingres probably in the 1830’s from tracing a work connected to the Triqueti version , and while the quality of the work is worthy of Ingres, the one essential element which in our opinion allows us to definitely conclude that this is indeed an acknowledged work is the manner in which the tracing of the lines in some places is enhanced with a blue color effect which reflects that of the fabric. This method is described in Ingres’ writings on art in the following sentence : "In a contour shadow, the shade must not be placed next to the line, it must be placed on the line."
Obviously, this small canvas is going to be the subject of much discussion over the next few weeks (already in full swing). We hope that it can one day be studied alongside the other versions, notably the one previously held in the Triqueti collection and whose whereabouts are unknown today. In the meantime, everyone can make up his own mind by going to see it until 20 November at 8 rue de Louvois.