Portrait of a Woman, called ‘La Belle Ferronnière’
Paris, about 1802-06
Black chalk, stump and wash on paper
525 x 418 mm
Ingres’ study of a much-debated portrait by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) depicts the so-called ‘La belle ferronnière’ (Louvre Museum, Paris). Legend stated the sitter was the wife of an ironmonger (a ferronnier) who became the mistress of King Francis I.
She is now tentatively identified as Beatrice d’Este, wife of Ludovico Sforza. Ingres studied under Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), one of France’s most celebrated painters. The drawing was presented to David before Ingres left for Rome in 1806. Copying the Old Masters was considered a vital practice for young artists, by which they could develop their own artistic skills and knowledge.
Purchased 1937 (No. 37.3)