Friday, 23 September 2011

Portrait of the painter Ingres by Charles Gounod

Charles Gounod, a French composer, won the Prix de Rome in 1839 and stayed at the Académie de France in Rome when Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was its director.

Bust of Charles Gounod by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (Valenciennes 1827-Courbevoie 1875). Terracota, 1873. Fine art museum of Valenciennes (France) Source : Wikimedia

Gounod’s father, who was a painter, knew Ingres when he was young and Ingres probably took good care of Charles Gounod for that reason.
In his autobiography, Mémoires d’un artiste, Gounod contradicts the description of Ingres as an affected person:

“Who has not known intimately Mr. Ingres could only have about him an inaccurate and false idea. I saw him very closely, colloquially, often, for a long time, and I can say he had a simple nature, straight, open, candid and full of momentum and enthusiasm that sometimes lead him to eloquence. He had the tenderness of a child and an apostle’s indignation; he had a naive and touching tenderness and freshness of emotion which are not found in an affected person, as some said he was.”

Ingres invited the young mucisian in his studio and encouraged him to draw on tracing paper from prints of old masters’ paintings. Gounod recalled: “I did, at his side, nearly one hundred traced drawings.”

The book

"Mémoires d’un artiste" by Charles Gounod is available as a free ebook (in French) on Project Gutenberg.

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