Head of Saint John the Evangelist

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (French, Montauban 1780–1867 Paris)

Oil on canvas, laid down on wood
15 1/2 x 10 5/8 in. (39.4 x 27 cm)
Credit Line:
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Purchase, Bequest of Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, by exchange, and Wolfe Fund, 1985
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    This is a study for an altarpiece, Christ Delivering the Keys to Saint Peter, commissioned in 1817 for Santissima Trinità dei Monti, Rome, and completed in 1820 (now Musée Ingres, Montauban). Ingres based the composition on Raphael’s tapestry design of the same theme and developed it in eight oil studies (including this one) and more than seventy drawings. Although the study may date to 1818–20, it is also possible that it was painted or reworked in 1841, and touches may have added as late as 1856.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed (lower right, partially legible): Ingres

  • Provenance

    M. and Mme Paul Sigisbert Moitessier, Paris (by 1856–89; ?gift of the artist); Mme Paul Sigisbert Moitessier, née Marie-Clotilde-Inès de Foucauld, Paris (1889–d. 1897); her daughter, Françoise-Camille-Marie, vicomtesse Olivier-Achille-Gabriel Taillepied de Bondy, née Moitessier, Paris (from 1897); by descent, Taillepied de Bondy family, Paris (until 1984); Prosper Crabbe, Brussels; sale, Jean-Paul Couturier and Raymond de Nicolay, Paris, December 12, 1984, no. 32, as "Étude de tête de Saint-Jean," for Fr 600,000 to Whitney; [Wheelock Whitney, New York, 1984–85; sold to MMA]

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Palais des Beaux-Arts. "Exposition universelle de 1855," May 15–?, 1855, no. 3375 (as "4 Têtes d'étude, même numéro," one of them probably this picture).

    Galerie de la société des amis des arts de Bordeaux. "Salon des amis des arts de Bordeaux," 1867, no. 312 [see Wildenstein 1954 and Dussol 1997].

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ingres at the Metropolitan," December 13, 1988–March 19, 1989, no catalogue (as "Head of Saint John the Evangelist").

    Montauban. Musée Ingres. "Invitation no. 2: Les clés du ciel ou de la gloire," January 27, 1999–January 12, 2000, no. 9.

  • References

    "Explication des ouvrages de peintures, sculpture, gravure, lithographie et architecture des artistes vivants étrangers et français." Exposition Universelle de 1855. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts. Paris, 1855, p. 353, no. 3375, dates it 1820.

    Henri Delaborde. Ingres: Sa vie, ses travaux, sa doctrine. Paris, 1870, p. 178, calls it a study for "Christ Delivering the Keys to Saint Peter" (W132; Musée Ingres, Montauban); notes that M. Moitessier owned it.

    Georges Wildenstein. The Paintings of J. A. D. Ingres. 1st ed. 1954, pp. 190–91, no. 137, fig. 80, calls it "Head of St. John," private collection, Paris; notes that this painting is identical to one which was exhibited in 1867 by the Société des Amis des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux.

    Georges Wildenstein. The Paintings of J. A. D. Ingres. 2nd revised ed. London, 1956, pp. 190–91, no. 137, fig. 80.

    Emilio Radius Ettore Camesasca in L'opera completa di Ingres. Milan, 1968, pp. 100–101, no. 104i, ill., illustrates it with four other studies for the final painting.

    Daniel Ternois. Ingres. Milan, 1980, p. 179, no. 153, ill., as in a private collection, Paris.

    Gary Tinterow in Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1985–1986. New York, 1986, pp. 33–34, ill., dates it 1818–20; states that Raphael's influence is evident in "the synthesis of ideal expression and naturalistic description"; theorizes that the two different weaves of canvas can be explained by assuming that Ingres first painted the subject on a fine linen, decided to redo the hands, cut away the head and glued it to a panel, and then painted new hands and borders on a coarser canvas which had also been glued to the panel.

    Eighty Years of French Painting: From Louis XVI to the Second Republic. Exh. cat., Stair Sainty Matthiesen. New York, 1991, pp. 52, 54.

    Éric Bertin. "Les peintures d'Ingres expositions et ventes publiques du vivant de l'artiste." Bulletin du Musée Ingres no. 67–68 (1995), p. 106, states that according to J. Hollender, this painting was in the collection of Prosper Crabbe in 1866.

    Georges Vigne. Ingres. New York, 1995, pp. 326, 332, no. 105i, publishes Ingres's Cahier IX where this work is mentioned as one of "4 tetes d'etude d'apotre".

    Dominique Dussol. Art et bourgeoisie: La société des amis des arts de Bordeaux (1851–1939). Bordeaux, 1997, p. 263.

    Georges Vigne. Invitation no. 2: Les clés du ciel ou de la gloire (1999), pp. 4, 13–14, no. 9, ill. (color).

    Asher Ethan Miller. "The Path of Nature: French Paintings from the Wheelock Whitney Collection, 1785–1850." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 70 (Winter 2013), p. 48 n. 28.

  • Notes

    This painting is a study for an altarpiece, "Christ Delivering the Keys to Saint Peter" (Musée Ingres, Montauban). The altarpiece was commissioned for the church of Santissima Trinità dei Monti in Rome in 1817 by the comte de Blacas. It was begun in the spring of 1818 and completed in May 1820. The composition is modeled after Raphael's cartoon of the same subject (Victoria and Albert Museum, London). The altarpiece was preceded by a small oil sketch (private collection, Aix-en-Provence) and eight oil studies, of which this is one. Seventy-three drawings for the composition are at the Musée Ingres.

    Since it is a study, it is very difficult to give a precise date of execution for this painting. Two possibilities are: 1818/20, reworked ca. 1841; or ca. 1841, reworked ca. 1856 (date of gift to Mme Moitessier). [GT 1/2002]

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History