At the time of this letter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres had just completed his second version of a painting of Molière (the first completed in 1867), the French playwright, actor and poet, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the French language and universal literature. Ingres was also focusing on producing variant copies of his earlier compositions. And, the last of his important portrait paintings date from this period.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) Extremely Rare Handwritten Letter Signed, "Votre devoue et ami Ingres" ("Your devoted and friend Ingres"), one page, 4 x 5.5, in French, postmarked 27 March 1860 on the accompanying handwritten address panel, museum-quality matting and framing to an overall size of 12 x 9.5, written to "Monsieur Elvard", Professor of Composition at the Paris Conservatoire, inviting him and his sister to visit his "atelier on Wednesday or Thursday only, between 4 and 6 o'clock", by the French Neoclassical painter. Ingres was the greatest exponent of classicism in art and was profoundly influenced by past artistic traditions and aspired to become the guardian of academic orthodoxy against the ascendant Romantic style. He was a supreme draughtsman and was particularly celebrated for his piercingly vivid portraits and his exotic odalisque scenes. His letters are exceptionally rare.
Since the establishment of the Paris Conservatoire in August 3, 1795 it has functioned as the gateway to the upper echelons of classical music in France. And,It was also well known, at the time, of Ingres’ passion for playing the violin: from the ages of thirteen to sixteen, when he was a student, he was second violinist in the Orchestre du Capitole, and would continue to play this instrument for the rest of his life. In fact the French now have the phrase violon d’Ingres which denotes a hobby, i.e. an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure. Ingres often played his violin with other more experienced instrumentalist such as Franz Liszt and Niccolo Paganini. So the visit mentioned in this letter could be an opportunity to share a musical experience or to discuss the commission of a portrait. Both items, the handwritten address panel and the handwritten letter are presented in an attractive display and are in fine condition.