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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Portrait of Sir John Hay and his sister Mary; Sir John standing at left turned to right, with his left hand on the back of a chair on which Mary is sitting. 1816 Graphite

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1816
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 291 millimetres
    • Width: 219 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Signed and dated: "Ingres Del./a Rome/1816"
  • Curator's comments

    This and 1968,0210.19 are first-rate examples of Ingres' pencil portraits that he made of tourists and residents in Rome as a struggling, newly married artist in the city after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 ended his painting commissions. Although these portraits are justly famous for the spare elegance and tautness of outline, qualities admired and emulated by artists such as Degas and Picasso, Ingres generally resented making them as he wished to be a history painter not a creator of small-scale pencil likenesses. Ingres had come to Rome in 1806 as a winner of the Prix de Rome and he stayed on there after his tenure in the Villa Medici ended in 1810. His neo-classical style found favour among French patrons in the city, like General Miollis who commissioned a painting of 'Virgil reciting the Aeneid' (a study for which is in the BM, 1975,0301.52). Such commissions dried up when the French armies retreated from Italy, and instead Ingres had to support himself by making portrait drawings, for the most part (around 30) of English visitors who returned to the city after ten years of being unable to go there due to the war with France .

    The present drawing was originally thought to depict Sir John Hay and his fiancée Anne Preston whom he married in 1821. It was Elizabeth Senior who discovered that Ingres had been commissioned in 1816 to portray George Forbes with his fiancée, Mary Hay. But Forbes had to leave Rome at the time of the final sitting and, as Ingres refused to reschedule, was replaced by his future brother-in-law, Sir John Hay, 6th Bart. (1788-1838). This circumstance explains why the composition resembles a portrait made to commemorate a betrothal (the couple both sporting matching flowers and the engagement ring on her finger), with Ingres placing Sir John's head on Forbes' body. Mary Hay married Forbes in 1819. Lit.: E Senior, 'A portrait drawing by J.-A.-D Ingres' "BM Quarterly", XIII, 1939-40, pp.1 - 2; H. Naef, 'Die Bildniszeichnungen von J.-A.-D. Ingres', Bern, 1977, IV, no. 187; G. Tinterow and P. Conisbee (eds), exhib. cat., London, National Gallery and New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'Portraits by Ingres, Image of an Epoch', 1999, no. 71, pp. 210-211 (with further literature); V. Bajou, 'Monsieur Ingres', Paris, 1999, p. 169, no. 11


  • Location

    Not on display (French Roy XIXc)

  • Exhibition history

    1967 Paris, Grand Palais, Ingres 1974 July-Dec, BM, Portrait Drawings, no.311
    2016-17 Sept-Jan, BM, 'French Portrait Drawings' (no cat) 1984 BM, Master Drawings & Watercolours, no.131 1995 May-Jun, Hull, Ferens Art Gallery, 'Drawing the Line', no.100 1995 Jul-Sep, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 'Drawing the Line', no.100 1996, BM, French Drawings from the BM, (no cat.) 1999 Jan-April, London, National Gallery, 'Ingres', no.71 1999 May-Aug, Washington, National Gallery of Art, 'Ingres', no.71 2003-4 Dec-April, BM, NACF exhibition

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Acquisition credit line: Presented by the Art Fund. For the provenance see the letter from Sir John Witt to the Director of the BM dated 21 July 1938 (kept with Trustee Reports): it states that the NACF bought it directly via Christie's from the owner who had approached them, and that the Committee of the NACF realising that such a drawing was a gap in the national collection bought it for £500 for presentation to the BM. Art Fund records state that it was purchased from Athole Hay for £493.

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Sir John Hay and his sister Mary, later Mrs George Forbes, a pencil drawing


COMPASS Title: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Sir John Hay and his sister Mary, later Mrs George Forbes, a pencil drawing

Image description



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