Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

French (1780 - 1867)
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres The Dream of Ossian Dated 1811


Born 1780
Died 1867
Nationality French
Birth place Montauban
Death place Paris

Ingres was a pupil of the neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David. In 1801 he won the Prix de Rome, and remained in Italy for eighteen years. Ingres adored everything that Italy had to offer, from the masterpieces of the Renaissance to the numerous examples of antique art. In Rome, he studied at the French Academy (of which he later became Director) and worked on numerous commissions, from great classicizing works for Napoleon to small portraits of French visitors. He returned to Paris in the 1820s, where his work was celebrated by critics for its polished, elegant style. Ingres’s work was embedded in the classical tradition, and displayed his passionate belief in the supremacy of line over colour. He enjoyed an immensely successful career, and managed a thriving studio with many pupils.

Glossary terms

  • The revival of ancient Greek and Roman models of art and architecture, with particular importance put on simplicity and discipline. Such ideals have been revived at various points in history and contrast with more decadent and dynamic styles such as the Baroque.

  • In 1765, the Scottish poet-historian James MacPherson published a collection of poems in English called 'The Works of Ossian'. MacPherson claimed that he had translated them from an original ancient manuscript that was written in Scots Gaelic. He stated that the manuscript was the work of the blind poet and warrior Ossian, son of Fingal, supposedly a third century Scottish king. The poems have long been regarded as one of Scotland’s most sensational and controversial literary productions. Debates over the authenticity of the poems persisted, but the controversy actually fuelled their popularity and appeal.