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Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 'Monsieur de Norvins', 1811-12

Key facts
Full title Monsieur de Norvins
Artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Artist dates 1780 - 1867
Date made 1811-12
Medium and support Oil on canvas, laid down on panel
Dimensions 97.2 × 78.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1918
Inventory number NG3291
Location Room 45
Collection Main Collection
Monsieur de Norvins
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Monsieur de Norvins had recently been appointed Chief of Police in Rome when Ingres painted his portrait in 1811. He is presented as a reserved, even forbidding, figure who closely scrutinises us as we look at him. Norvins’ loyalty to Napoleon is indicated by the gesture of placing his left hand inside his jacket, just like the Emperor.

However, following Napoleon’s fall from power in 1814 and the restoration of the monarchy, any overt evidence of loyalty to him would have been potentially damaging to both Norvins and Ingres, which led Ingres to make some changes. He added a length of red drapery to conceal what was probably a bust of Napoleon’s infant son, the King of Rome, which you can now see as a ghostly presence if you look closely at the left of the picture. As if to compensate for the lost bust, Ingres added a bronze sculpture of the Roman goddess, Minerva, on the right.

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