The Easel

A closer look at Ingres’ impossible ideals

Lucien Freud said that to compare the drawings of Degas and Ingres was like comparing journalism to literature. Inges earned this exalted reputation with his portraits and nudes. But these works are a puzzle – reflecting classical ideals but showing unattainable women inhabiting oddly disjointed bodies. As one critic observed “[Ingres] used to be thought a terrible old square. Now he’s often seen as an exciting weirdo.”