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“C’est un bourgeois, mais non un bourgeois ordinaire”: The Contested Afterlife of Ingres’s Portrait of Louis-François Bertin

Richard Wrigley

Published online:

17 Jun 2021



Ingres’s portrait of Louis-François Bertin (1832) has been universally accepted as a visual “apotheosis” of the newly powerful early 19th-century bourgeoisie in France. Here, we study the inconsistencies and contestation which contributed to this identification. Beginning with the moment of its first public exhibition in the 1833 Paris Salon, this article traces Bertin’s evolving reputation as an image of its epoch, focusing on its reappearance in public first at the Bazar Bonne-Nouvelle in 1846, and then in the display of Ingres’s works at the Exposition Universelle of 1855. This leads to a critical assessment of how the picture’s role as a political emblem has been related to later assertions that it also exemplified the artist’s incipient modernism. The exhibition of works by Ingres at the Paris Salon d’Automne in 1905 allows us to take stock of claims made about the picture’s status in the early 20th century. However, in contrast to the habitual desire to modernise Ingres (and thereby to detach him from a lingering taint of academicism), this article argues that a key element in the reception of Ingres’s portrait in the second half of the 19th century is a recognition of its rootedness in values emanating from the Revolution of 1789, embodied both in the person of LouisFrançois Bertin and Ingres’s representation of him.

Other articles in this issue:

Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte Issues

Volume 87 (2024)
Volume 86 (2023)
Volume 85 (2022)
Volume 84 (2021)
Volume 83 (2020)
Volume 82 (2019)
Volume 81 (2018)
Volume 80 (2017)
Volume 79 (2016)

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