Skip to main content

Picasso Ingres: Face to Face

3 June – 9 October 2022

Admission free

Room 1

'Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal.'
Pablo Picasso

For the first time, Picasso’s ‘Woman with a Book’ (1932) from the Norton Simon Museum, California, will be brought together with the painting that inspired it, ‘Madame Moitessier’ by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

Picasso first encountered the enigmatic ‘Madame Moitessier’ at an exhibition in Paris, in 1921, and was enthralled. Over the next decade, Picasso repeatedly referenced Ingres in his art, and painted ‘Woman with a Book’, one of his most celebrated portraits, in homage to Ingres’s famous work, 11 years later.

For Ingres, a French artist steeped in the academic tradition, the beautiful and wealthy Madame Moitessier represented the classical ideal. Wearing her finest clothes and jewellery, she gazes at the viewer majestically, the embodiment of luxury and style during the Second Empire.

Picasso, born 100 years after Ingres, is famous for a very different, abstract, style of art, but Ingres’s influence is clear. Picasso depicts his model for ‘Woman with a Book’, his then young mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, mimicking Madame Moitessier’s distinct pose. The painting balances sensuality and restraint, striking a chord with the eroticism latent beneath Ingres’s image of bourgeois respectability.

‘Picasso Ingres: Face to Face’ is a unique opportunity to see these two portraits, side by side, for the first time, and to trace the continuous thread between 19th and 20th-century artistic development.

Exhibition organised in partnership with the Norton Simon Museum, California.

Detail from Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, ‘Madame Moitessier’, 1856 © The National Gallery, London

Supporters

The H J Hyams Exhibition Programme

Supported by The Capricorn Foundation