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Donné par Ingres à l'épouse du modèle, née Adeline Lequeux; par descendance à sa fille, Madame Edmond Arnoult, née Paule Baltard, jusque 1916, puis à la fille de celle-ci, Madame Louis Duval-Arnould, née Paule Arnould, jusque 1942, puis au fils de celle-ci, François Duval-Arnould.
Galerie Alain Tarica, Paris, d'où acquis par
Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Bergé.
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Post Lot Text
PORTRAIT OF VICTOR BALTARD, SIGNED BY JEAN-AUGUSTE-DOMINIQUE INGRES AND DATED '1837'
PENCIL ON BROWN PAPER, ORIGINALLY CREAM PAPER, THE OUTLINES OF THE ARCHITECTURE PARTLY INCISED
'Another bit of good news! Last Saturday, Mr. Ingres drew my portrait: his pencil never created anything with such liveliness; the manner is different than what you ordinarily see; there is the same accuracy, but the colour is different; it seems as though he used his thumb to smudge some areas; this masterpiece was executed in just four hours.'
This brief but enthusiastic and appreciative account of the drawing is taken from a letter that Victor Baltard (1805-1874) sent from Rome on 6 September 1837 to his friend, the painter Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864; see M.-M. Aubrun, op. cit., p. 121). The two men had met in Rome during their staying at the French Academy, which Ingres had directed since 1835.
Victor Baltard, one of the architect Louis-Pierre Baltard's eleven children (1764-1846), followed in his father's footsteps and won the Prix de Rome for architecture in 1833. He travelled to Italy in March 1834, accompanied by his new bride Adeline Lequeux, who also came from a family of distinguished architects. Baltard returned to France in 1838, after what he would call the four happiest years of his life. He was appointed Inspecteur des Beaux-Arts in 1841, and under this tenure he began a vast movement to restore the old churches of Paris, alongside a large campaign to decorate their interiors with frescoes. But Baltard was not just an administrator, he was also responsible for building several important monuments, including the Halles Centrales, Paris' main market (often called the 'Halles Baltard'), erected between 1851 and 1857, and the Church of Saint Augustin (1860-1871), also in the French capital, which brought him fame.
When Baltard arrived in Rome in 1834, Horace Vernet (1789-1863) was at the head of the French Academy in the Villa Medici. The following year, Vernet was replaced by Ingres, who was 55 years old at the time. The painter quickly grew to like the young architect, his wife, and their first daughter, Paule, who was born on 27 August 1834. In 1836, he drew Mrs Baltard in the gardens of the Villa Medici, with the Casino di Raffaello in the Villa Borghese visible in the distance (fig. 2, currently in a private American collection, see Portraits by Ingres, op. cit., no. 114). An inscription on the back of this moving portrait says, 'Paule Baltard, aged two years old, was not to be included in the portrait and was looked after by Mrs. Ingres, but she broke away and rushed to her mother's side crying "Maman, maman". Then, Mr. Ingres said "Let her stay", and drew the child whilst someone was shaking a sweet above the artist's head to catch her attention'.
The young family's departure from Rome was absolutely heart-rending for Ingres. In a letter to Hippolyte Flandrin, the same artist to whom he spoke of this drawing, Ingres admitted: 'Our hearts too were saddened when my dear Baltards left, or, rather, when they were torn away from us. I cannot tell you how much we will miss them all, the architect, his lovely wife and their adorable little girl' (letter dated 22 November 1838, see Ternois, 'Lettres inédites d'Ingres Hippolyte Flandrin', Bulletin du musée Ingres, no. 11, July 1962, p. 11).
In a message to archaeologist Raoul-Rochette, Ingres added 'We have lost the charm of the most pleasant of intimacies ... Our little girl is gone' (Naef, 1977-1980, op. cit., III, p. 253).
Ingres played a non-negligeble role in the architect's career, as he asked Baltard to draw the architectural background of his most ambitious work painted while he was director of the Academy, Antiochus and Stratonice (1834-1840), commissioned by the Duke of Orléans and now in the Musée Condé in Chantilly. In 1841, he recommended his protégé to Edouard Gatteaux, one of the painter's great friends and member of the Paris Municipal Council, for the position of 'Inspecteur des Beaux-Arts'. In return, the architect worked with many of Ingres's students on his ambitious projects to decorate the churches of Paris. When the great painter died, Baltard was put in charge of designing his tomb in the Père Lachaise Cemetery. This modest and dignified place of rest is made of a simple tombstone decorated with four pilasters and a palm which holds in its square niche a bust of the painter and friend (fig. 3).
Ingres portrayed his model wearing a cape over a buttoned vest that opens on a nonchalantly tied cravat, holding in one hand a tall hat hidden under his garment and in the other a portfolio for drawings. With a wink to his model's work, Ingres placed Baltard in St Peter's Square, in front of Bernini's colonnade and the Vatican buildings, the two fountains and the obelisk to his right. If G. Tinterow and A. E. Miller (op. cit.) are to be believed, it was the last portrait Ingres drew with a landscape background.
This wonderful testimony to friendship, 'a gift to Mrs Baltard' (her portrait had been 'a gift to her friend Mr Vr. Baltard'), remained in the Baltard family until it was acquired by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé.