Wednesday, July 20, 2011

19 IMAGES FROM THE 19th CENTURY: PART 2 - Jesus Handing St Peter the Keys to Paradise

Title: Jesus Handing St Peter the Keys to Paradise
Artist: Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 280 x 217 cm
Date: 1820
Location: Musée Ingres, Montauban.


Matthew 16:15-19 “But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.”

The success of Jesus Handing St Peter the Keys to Paradise lead Ingres to stiffen many of his compositions, giving the historical scenes as well as portraits sometimes a too pronounced solemn character. In this image, however, the stiffness achieves the wonderful effect of making the painting seem like a living Icon. The photo-realism of the robes contrasts the stylized halos; the realistic expressions contrast the formality of their posture, and so on. Even as a guardian of tradition, Ingres cannot help but nod towards the future.

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (August 1780 – January 1867) was a French Neoclassical painter. Although he considered himself to be a painter of history in the tradition of Nicolas Poussin and Jacques-Louis David, by the end of his life it was Ingres's portraits, both painted and drawn, that were recognized as his greatest legacy. A man profoundly respectful of the past, he assumed the role of a guardian of academic orthodoxy against the ascendant Romantic style. Ingres influence on later generations of artists has been considerable. His most significant heir was Degas, who studied under Louis Lamothe, a minor disciple of Ingres. In the 20th century, Picasso and Matisse were among those who acknowledged a debt to the great classicist; Matisse described him as the first painter "to use pure colors, outlining them without distorting them."

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