Masters: Ingres in His Own Words

0701ingr1_478x600_2Some of  Ingres' most prized advice about the art of drawing.


“To draw does not mean simply to reproduce contours; drawing does not consist merely of line: drawing is also expression. The inner form, the plane, modeling. See what remains after that. Drawing includes three and a half quarters of the content of painting. If I were asked to put a sign over my door, I should inscribe it, ‘School for Drawing,’ and I am sure that I should bring forth painters.”

Portrait of Charles-
François Mallet

1809, graphite, 10 9/16
x 8 5/16. Collection The
Art Institute of Chicago,
Chicago, Illinois.

“When studying nature, have eyes only for the ensemble at first. Interrogate it and interrogate nothing but it. The details are self-important little things that have to be put in their place. Breadth of form and breadth again. Form: it is the foundation and the condition of all things; smoke itself should be rendered by a line.”

“Line is drawing. It is everything.”

“The simpler the lines and forms are, the more there is of beauty and of strength. Every time you divide up the forms, you weaken them. The case is the same as that of the breaking up of anything else. … Why do men not get largeness of character? Because in place of one large form, they make three little ones.”

“The great painters, such as Raphael and Michelangelo, have insisted on line in finishing. They have reiterated it with a fine brush, and thus they have reanimated the contour; they have imprinted vitality and rage upon their drawings.”

“Draw for a long time before thinking of painting. When one builds on a solid foundation, one sleeps in peace.”

“Always have a sketchbook in your pocket, and note down with the fewest strokes of the pencil the objects that strike you, if you do not have time to indicate them entirely. But if you have leisure to make a more exact sketch, seize upon your subject lovingly, envisage and reproduce it in all its forms, so that it may be lodged in your head, incrusted there, as your own property.”


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