Count Nikolai Dmitrievich Gouriev, 1821
Oil on canvas, 42.13 x 33.86 inches [107 x 86 cm]
Hermitage, St Petersburg
Even his famed opponent Delacroix, while denouncing Ingres for the production of oil paintings 'that are merely clever and that satisfy nothing but idle curiosity', admired Ingres' knowledge of dress and his feel for adornment, perceiving some glimmerings of Romanticism there. And if an element of Romanticism involves mental perturbation and a constant struggle to achieve a personal vision, this is what the painter Jacques-Emile Blanche saw in Ingres earlier this century. Describing Ingres as tyrannical, pedagogic and opinionated - all words that occur many times apropos Ingres - Blanche also notes the way in which the artist wrestled with his problems, as 'sublime touchant, admirable', attempting, not always successfully, to reconcile his militant idealism based on classical perfection with a delight in colour and all appreciation of the sensual. Although Ingres paintings look so effortless, so much a product of technical perfection, it was often the result of self-torment - Ingres was not the self-satisfied artist of myth.