The collar of M. Desdéban exacts all the beauty of the line in its rhythms. Part of seeing these pictures resides in recognizing a beautiful line when you see one, something that Ingres above all others could do, finding the beauty that resides in Nature, in the accidents of things, like the folds of a cloth. Seeing it in art teaches you to look for it in life. If you set down to paint something, these are the things you look for.
Corot said (according to Silvestre) that “An artist can’t control whether he is born a genius with a natural ability to paint, but anyone without disabilities can become aware of the relationships between forms and colors. The women who sell hats rarely make a mistake when combining materials. My sister has a gardener at Ville d’Avray who makes beautiful bouquets, she could teach one of our famous artists the laws of harmony.”
[above: Ingres’s portrait of Jean-Baptiste Desdéban, c.1810]