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Fabricated flesh

Through Ingres's portraits I learned how to fuse the real and the abstract in folds of cloth

By Alison Watt   June 2003

The first time I fell in love with a painting I was holding my father’s hand. “This is Madame Moitessier,” he said. I knew I would see her again.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres initially resisted the idea of this portrait, first mooted in 1844 by his friend Charles Marcotte, an official in French-occupied Rome. Much of Ingres’s former client?le had been drawn from Marcotte’s colleagues at the ministry of state and he shuddered at the idea of wasting his time on the daughter of yet another bureaucrat. Even more to his distaste, Madame Moitessier was married to a man twice her age,…

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