The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler

YMSM 011
Copy after Ingres's 'Roger délivrant Angélique'

Copy after Ingres's 'Roger délivrant Angélique'

Artist: James McNeill Whistler
Date: 1857
Collection: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow
Accession Number: GLAHA 46395
Medium: oil
Support: canvas
Size: 82.0 x 53.0 cm (32 1/4 x 20 7/8") with arched top
Signature: 'Ingres / Whistler / Paris 1857'
Inscription: see above
Frame: modern frame

Date

Whistler, Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique', 1857, The Hunterian
Whistler, Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique', 1857, The Hunterian

The Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique' was signed and inscribed by Whistler '1857'. 1

J.D. Ingres, Roger délivrant Angélique, 1819, Musée du Louvre, Paris
J.D. Ingres, Roger délivrant Angélique, 1819, Musée du Louvre, Paris

1855: The oil painting Roger délivrant Angélique, painted by Jean Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) in 1819, entered the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris, in 1824. It was exhibited in Ingres' retrospective at the Exposition Universelle in Paris from 5 May to 15 November 1855. Whistler was in Paris by 2 November 1855 and probably visited the Exposition. The painting then hung in the Musée du Luxembourg, which is where Whistler would have copied it, until 1874, when it was transferred to the Musée du Louvre.

1856: On 17 June, Whistler, sponsored by Marc-Charles-Gabriel Gleyre (1806-1874), obtained permission to enter the Musées Impériaux, Paris, 'pour les jours d'étude' (on study days). 2 There is, however, no record in the Archives du Louvre of Whistler having requested permission to copy a painting by Ingres.

1856/1857: Thomas Armstrong (1832-1911) wrote that when he was working in the Luxembourg Gallery, Whistler made a copy of 'the nude figure of Angelica chained to the rock' by Ingres. 3

1857: Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902) probably met Whistler shortly after his (Tissot's) arrival in Paris about 1856. Tissot first registered as a copyist in the Louvre on 26 January 1857. According to Théodore Duret (1838-1927), Whistler and Tissot were reported to have copied the Ingres side by side while Whistler was studying in the studio of Marc-Charles-Gabriel Gleyre (1806-1874). 4 Tissot's version has not survived.

Whistler's mother, Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), wrote to him in July 1857 that, according to his aunt, Catherine Jane Palmer (1812-1877), 'Dick Palmer' – William Richard ('Dick') Suydam Palmer (1834-1870) – in Union Place, Stonington, 'values the copy you had done for him.' 5 However, she did not identify the subject of the copy. Shortly afterwards, she wrote that Whistler's brother William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900) had seen it ('Willie & Jacks went to Union Place purposely to see the painting Jemie had done for Dick Palmer, they expressed approval of your progress in painting'), and in March 1858 that she herself had seen it ('I thought there was merit in your copy for Dick Pr'). 6 Unfortunately, although it is known when the painting by Ingres was copied (1857) and where (the Musée du Luxembourg) it is not totally clear who commissioned or owned it.

Images

Whistler, Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique', 1857, The Hunterian
Whistler, Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique', 1857, The Hunterian

J. D. Ingres, Roger délivrant Angélique, 1819, Musée du Louvre, Paris
J. D. Ingres, Roger délivrant Angélique, 1819, Musée du Louvre, Paris

Subject

Titles

Several possible titles have been suggested:

Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique' is the generally accepted title.

Description

Whistler, Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique', 1857, The Hunterian
Whistler, Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique', 1857, The Hunterian

A figure composition in vertical format. It shows a full-length standing nude woman, chained at upper right to a rock, with waves around her feet, against a dark background.

Site

A stormy coast!

Sitter

Angélique (Angelica) is a princess in the unfinished epic poem Orlando innamorato by Matteo Maria Boiardo, and in the saga's continuation, Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, as well as in later works based on these stories. The narratives are part of a cycle of legendary historical stories based on the adventures of Charlemagne and his paladins.

Angelica is the daughter of the king of Cathay. In Orlando furioso, she is sought throughout the world by the cousins Orlando (Roland), Rinaldo (Rinaud), and other knights. Eventually, naked and chained to a rock in the sea, she is offered as a sacrifice to a sea monster (just as in the story of Perseus and Andromeda). She is rescued by the African knight Ruggiero (which is the scene depicted by Ingres), who gives her a ring of invisibility. When she is pursued by the maddened Orlando, she uses the ring and vanishes. Finally she falls for an ordinary soldier, the Moor Medoro, and they return to Cathay. Orlando eventually recovers his senses with the help of his cousin Astolpho.

Comments

Ingres' painting inspired both poetry and paintings. Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) wrote a sonnet, Ruggiero and Angelica ('Last Visit to the Luxembourg. Roger Rescuing Angelica; by Ingres') which was originally sent to William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919) in 1849, and was published by Ellis & White, London, 1881. 13

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834-1917) copied Ingres' Roger délivrant Angélique twice, once in 1855 when it was exhibited in the Exposition Universelle in Paris, and again in 1859 at the Musée du Luxembourg. 14 Later Degas acquired a drawing for the oil and a small oil version of the same composition by Ingres, which was bought at the sale of Degas' estate for the National Gallery, London. 15 Jean-Désiré-Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) also made copies of Ingres' original work., and about 1850 he re-used a strip of canvas from his copy after Ingres' Roger délivrant Angélique to stitch together a canvas for a self-portrait, which is now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'Archéologie, Besançon. 16

In 1867 Whistler wrote a passionate letter to Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) saying that he wished he had been a pupil of Ingres:

'Ah! que n'ai-je été un éleve de Ingres! - Je ne dis point ceci par rhapsodie devant ses tableaux - Je ne les aime que mediocrement - Je trouve plusieurs de ses toiles que nous avons vu ensemble d'un style bien questionable - pas du tout Grec comme on veut le dire - mais bien vicieusement Francais!

Je sens qu'il y a bien plus loin à aller! de choses bien plus belles à faire - Mais je repete que n'ai-je été son éleve! Quel maitre qu'il aurait été - Comme il nous aurait sainement conduit - le dessin! pardieu! la couleur - c'est vrai c'est le vice! certainement qu'elle peut être et a le droit d'être une des plus belles vertus - bien tenu avec main forte - bien guidée par son maitre le dessin - la couleur alors est ... une fille splendide avec un époux digne d'elle - son amant mais aussi son maitre, ... et le resultat se voit dans toutes les belles choses produitent par leur union!' 17

Translated, this reads:

'Oh! how I wish I had been a pupil of Ingres! I don't say that because I go into raptures in front of his pictures - I only like them up to a point - I think that many of his canvases that we saw together are in very questionable style - not at all Greek as people call them - but very pervertedly French!

I feel there's much further to go! much more beautiful things to do - But I repeat I wish I had been his pupil! What a master he would have been - How soundly he would have guided us - drawing! my God! colour - it's really a vice! certainly it can be and has the right to be one of the most beautiful virtues - if directed by a strong hand - well guided by its master drawing - colour is then … a splendid woman with a spouse worthy of her - her lover but also her master, … and the result is to be seen in all the beautiful things produced by their union!'

However, by 1893, Whistler's views had changed somewhat, and he objected to the praise of Ingres by George Moore (1852-1933), who had written in The Speaker of 16 September 1893:

'There is as much mystery in Ingres' line as in Rembrandt's light and shade. The arms and wrists and hands of the lady seated among the blue cushions in the Louvre are as illusive as any one of Mr. Whistler's "Nocturnes". The beautiful "Andromeda", head and throat leaned back almost out of nature, ... how rare the simplifications, those arms, that body, the straight flanks and slender leg advancing, - are made of lines simple and beautiful as those which in the Venus of Milo realise the architectural beauty of woman. … But the pure, unconscious love of form, inherited from the Greeks, sometimes turned to passion in Ingres: not in "La Source", she is wholly Greek; but in the beautiful sinuous back of the odalisque we perceive some of the exasperation of nerves which betrays our century.' 18

Three months later Whistler responded:

'What possessed you to do that pas seul of quite carnal & uncalled for excitement before Ingres "Source"? - a short legged knobbly kneed ill begotten wench! - Why now draw attention to this unholy sort of Bank holiday passion for her? - so … out of date too, even for a pioneer - and why call her "Greek"! so near the Goddess on the staircase.' 19

By 'Goddess' Whistler meant the 'Venus de Milo', a statue that he had long admired.

Technique

Composition

Whistler, Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique', 1857, The Hunterian
Whistler, Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique', 1857, The Hunterian

J.D. Ingres, Roger délivrant Angélique, 1819, Musée du Louvre
J.D. Ingres, Roger délivrant Angélique, 1819, Musée du Louvre

Whistler probably painted his copy of Ingres' Roger délivrant Angélique from the version exhibited at the Salon of 1819, which was, by 1857, in the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris. 20 Ingres was director of the École des Beaux-Arts and, until his death in 1867, the leading Classicist painter in Paris.

Ingres' Roger délivrant Angélique of 1819 measures 147 x 190 cm. Whistler's partial copy is much smaller, at 82 x 53 cm. Whistler's copy shows approximately one third of the composition, omitting details such as Roger's lance, which in the original cuts across the lower part of Angélique's legs, and the sea monster. Pentimenti show that Whistler originally painted Angélique's left leg further to the left.

Technique

Whistler, Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique', 1857, The Hunterian
Whistler, Copy after Ingres' 'Roger délivrant Angélique', 1857, The Hunterian

The canvas is a medium weight plain tabby weave. The priming appears to be white, and the paint, at least at the edges, thin. 21 An underdrawing in graphite pencil is just visible for her left foot and toes.

According to Thomas Armstrong (1832-1911), Whistler's painting 'was not a bit like that of Ingres, for it was done in a thin, transparent manner, with no impasto and hardly enough paint to cover the canvas, also the colour of it was warmer and richer than that of the original'. 22 Armstrong went on to say that when he reproached Whistler for stinting on paint, 'he replied that the price he was to be paid would not run to much more than good linseed oil for he was to have only 100 francs apiece for the copies'. 23

Areas of the copy are thinly but carefully painted, but on the body, there is thick paint (for instance over her breasts, arms and face), painted with no thinner or medium modifier, the modelling consisting largely of softly blended shadows, not brushstrokes. Professor J. H. Townsend comments that, for most of his life, Whistler would work in the opposite way. 24

In its present condition it is hard to assess the original technique.

Conservation History

It was lined shortly before acquisition by the Hunterian in 1969, using very pale and fine weave canvas, the edges being taped with brown tape

The paint is thin and the surface has been abraded by overcleaning, although records of earlier restoration are lacking. There has been considerable retouching, particularly on the background and damaged areas including a 30 cm tear at lower left, beside the woman's leg. However, the condition and appearance of the painting is quite good. 25

Frame

Modern frame, 97.5 x 69.0 x 6.0 cm.

History

Provenance

The date, sequence and identity of owners is in some doubt. Despite confusing and conflicting records, the known provenance suggests that this painting was commissioned by a Stonington man, possibly William Richard ('Dick') Suydam Palmer (1834-1870). Whistler's mother, Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), wrote to him in July 1857 that, according to his aunt, Catherine Jane Palmer (1812-1877), 'Dick Palmer', in Union Place, Stonington, 'values the copy you had done for him.' 26 However, although Dick Palmer could well have commissioned the copy after Ingres, or he could equally have commissioned another painting, such as the Copy after Mignard's 'La Vierge à la grappe' y012.

Thomas Armstrong (1832-1911) wrote: 'Whistler made copies of portions of ... the nude figure of Angelica chained to the rock in Ingres' picture', and was to be paid 100 francs for the copy, one of four paintings 'a whaling captain' had commissioned. 27 Arthur Jerome Eddy (1859-1920), stated that this was one of three copies of paintings in the Louvre commissioned in Paris by a 'Captain Williams' whom Whistler had originally met at the United States Military Academy at West Point. 28 Certainly Charles Phelps Williams (1804-1879), a former whaling captain from Stonington (but not West Point) commissioned several paintings, including Copy after Ziegler's 'La Vision de St Luc' y015 (which is dated 1858) and Copy after Odier's 'Episode de la retraite de Moscou' y017, but there is no evidence that this copy after Ingres was one of them.

Indeed, Whistler himself told his biographers, the Pennells, that when he was first studying in Paris a man from Stonington asked him to paint a copy of 'Ingres' Andromeda chained to the rock', and another Stonington man, 'Captain Williams', commissioned his portrait and four other copies. 29 This also agrees with a note by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), who recorded – many years later – that it was 'painted for a gentleman friend of Capt Williams of Stonington, Conn.' 30

Furthermore, although the painting was probably in America in 1857, or at least by 1858, its history thereafter is also confused. At the turn of the century, the painting was in the William Macbeth Gallery in New York; 31 Arthur Jerome Eddy (1859-1920), writing in 1903, said that 'a copy of an Ingres, turned up in New York a year or two ago. It bore Whistler's signature, but was so atrocious ... that even the dealer doubted its authenticity; but when a photograph was shown Whistler, he recognised the picture and told the story.' 32 Cary recorded the painting as with Keppel, (not Macbeth) another New York dealer, who exhibited it as 'Andromeda' in 1905. 33 However, it was certainly exhibited by the Macbeth Gallery in 1913, and their records state that it was 'returned' to one 'Mrs G. E. Janitor', at 49 North 69 Street, New York, on 6 October in the following year. 34 It re-appeared at the Macbeth Gallery, and was sold to George L. Nelson (dates unknown), New York, some time before 1935, when he is recorded as lending it to an exhibition.

Finally, after another gap, it was bought in the 1960s from a private collector by the New York art dealer Ira Spanierman, who, in May 1968, exchanged the oil painting with the University of Glasgow for several watercolours by Whistler.

Exhibitions

It was not exhibited in Whistler's lifetime.

Bibliography

Catalogues Raisonnés

Authored by Whistler

Catalogues 1855-1905

Newspapers 1855-1905

Journals 1855-1905

Monographs

Books on Whistler

Books, General

Catalogues 1906-Present

Journals 1906-Present

Websites

Unpublished

Other


Notes:

1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 11).

2: Card No. 3338, Comte Alfred Émilien O'Hara van Nieuwerkerke (1811-1892) to Whistler, GUW #04523.

3: Lamont 1912 [more], pp. 178-79.

4: Duret 1904 [more], p. 8.

5: A. M. Whistler to J. Whistler, 13-15 July [1857], GUW #06485.

6: A. M. Whistler to J. Whistler, 17 August and 16 September 1857, GUW #06487; 23 March [1858], GUW #06495.

7: Pennell 1921C [more], p. 171.

8: Lamont 1912 [more], pp. 178-79.

9: C. L. Freer Diaries, Bk 12, Freer Gallery Archives.

10: Macbeth Gallery records, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. International Exhibition of Modern Art, Association of American Paintings and Sculpture, Armory of the 69th Infantry, New York, 1913 (cat. no. 657).

11: Loan Exhibition, National Arts Club, New York, 1935.

12: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 11).

13: Ruggiero and Angelica, The Rossetti Archive.

14: Dumas et al. 1997 [more], pp. 15, 17-18, 20, 27, 140-41, 143, 147, 277, figs. 17, 177; drawing, fig. 192.

15: Ives et al. 1997 [more], cat. no. 621 (since 1918 at the National Gallery, London), and cat. no. 667 (now in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA).

16: Fernier 1978 [more] (cat. no. 73).

17: [May/June 1867], originally dated [September 1867], GUW #08045.

18: Moore Sept 1893 [more], reprinted in Moore 1906 [more], pp. 258–59. The essay was not yet included in the first edition of Moore's collected articles (Moore 1893 [more]).

19: Whistler to G. Moore, 3 December 1893, GUW #04176.

20: Villot 1855 [more], no. 76.

21: Condition report by Clare Meredith, 8 May 2001, Hunterian files.

22: Lamont 1912 [more], pp. 178-79.

23: Ibid.

24: Report by Prof. Townsend, July 2017, GU WPP.

25: Condition report by Clare Meredith, 8 May 2001, Hunterian files.

26: A. M. Whistler to J. Whistler, 13-15 July [1857], GUW #06485.

27: Lamont 1912 [more], pp. 178-79.

28: Eddy 1903 [more], pp. 79-80.

29: Whistler, on 6 August 1900, quoted in Pennell 1921C [more], p. 171.

30: [1902], Diaries, Bk 12, Freer Gallery Archives.

31: Macbeth Gallery records, ca 1900, Archives of American Art; C. L. Freer Diaries, [1902], op. cit.

32: Eddy 1903 [more], pp. 79-80.

33: Cary 1907[more], p. 227.

34: Macbeth Gallery records, 1913-1914, Archives of American Art.