Don Pedro of Toledo Kissing the Sword of Henri IV
(Jean Auguste-Dominique Ingres)


Of the known versions of Don Pedro of Toledo Kissing the Sword of Henri IV[1] the present picture is the most striking, due primarily to the dramatic perspective of the Salle des Caryatides and to numerous minor alterations on which Ingres labored long and hard. Although this painting was signed and dated Rome 1820 Ingres had originally entered it in the 1814 Salon, but then reworked it, finally completing the painting in 1822.[2] When the picture was finally completed Ingres wrote detailed instructions on its presentation to his client and specified black wood for the frame, which he felt was appropriate to the taste of the time of Henri IV.[3] Ingres used Jean Goujon’s famous caryatid tribune in the Louvre to situate his scene in the royal palace.

A meticulous documentarian as well as a cultivated artist, Ingres modeled his Renaissance page after a figure in Bernard de Montfaucon’s Monumens de la monarchie française (1729-1733). His decor was probably inspired by Antoine Borel’s illustrations for André Chenier’s Charles IX, published during the Revolution, for Borel set this episode in the same large room in the Louvre of the Valois as did Ingres, thus giving contemporary viewers their first taste of complicity with this famous architectural site.[4] Don Pedro of Toledo Kissing the Sword of Henri IV is far from a typical courtly subject in that neither of the major personages (the King of Spain and Henri IV) appear in the scene. Ingres cited Hardouin de Beaumont de Péréfixe’s Histoire du roi Henri Grand (1661) as his source for this subject. Don Pedro of Toledo, the Ambassador of France’s long standing enemy King Philip II of Spain, encountered a page carrying the sword of Henri IV in the Louvre Palace. He dropped to his knees and kissed the sword saying: “I render honor to the most glorious sword in Christendom.” This gesture, which was criticized by a Salon reviewer as having the air of relic worship,[5] was defended by Ingres: “I ask of all who reason and who have sound judgment, whether the sword of Henri IV is not effectively a relic here and whether the act of the Ambassador is not a form of adoration?”[6]
NOTES:1. In addition to this picture two known painted versions of Don Pedro Kissing the Sword of Henri IV exist. One, painted for the artist Jean Alaux in 1819 (Musée des Beaux Arts, Pau), is set like our painting in the Salle des Caryatides in the Louvre, but Goujon’s monumental sculptures are seen on the periphery and the space is shallow, as is typical in Ingres’ historical genre subjects. In the other version (Louvre, Paris), dated 1832, the central grouping of Don Pedro and the page is repeated, but the setting is changed to the Stairway of Henri II, also in the Louvre. For the sake of pictorial clarity Ingres needed a more visually neutral background when he increased the number of secondary figures in the composition. In each version the number of secondary figures increases. The figures in the Louvre painting were identified during Ingres’ lifetime as the Duc d’Epernon, Gabrielle d’Estrées (the king’s mistress), the poet Malherbe and the Cardinal Duperon (Oeuvres de J.A. Ingres, Albert Magimel, ed.). It is possible then that the two figures on the left side of the present panel represent Gabrielle d’Estrées and the Duke d’Epernon, but their identities are less important than their role as courtly witnesses who lend weight to the homage accorded their King.
2. The completion of the painting can be traced through a series of letters by Ingres to his friend J.-P.-F. Gilibert, who functioned as the intermediary between Ingres and M. Graves who would eventually buy the Don Pedro. In a letter of April 20, 1821, Ingres suggested offering M. Graves the Don Pedro which he described as a “half-completed highly finished picture on wood.“ (Boyer d’Agen, op. cit., p. 72). During this time Ingres was working on the monumental Vow of Louis XIII, which had been commissioned for the cathedral at Montauban, but he reminded Gilibert that it was the small pictures that took the longest and required the most minute care. The letters that followed reveal the extent of Ingres’ attention to this painting. In November of 1821 Ingres declared, on the first of several occasions, that the painting was finished “to the contentment of all.“ (Boyer d’Agen dates this letter to 1822, but Blanc’s dating of 1821 is the only logical one.) He complained again of the trouble little pictures (made “with too much conscience“) caused him. Nevertheless, Ingres seems to have been unable to resist further refinements and in January of 1822 wrote Gilibert that he had again retouched the painting, which was slow to dry because it was painted on wood. (Although this letter is dated to 1821 by Boyer d’Agen, p. 62, it is dated 1822 by Hans Naef, Die Bildniszeichnungen von J.-A.-D. Ingres, Bern, 1977, II, p. 439, and, indeed, only makes sense with this latter dating.) Evidence of the changes Ingres made between 1814 and 1822 is visible in pentiments, primarily in the figure of Don Pedro, whose pose in this version differs from the other two, and some significant alterations to the pose of the page. In the same letter he told Gilibert that he intended to dispatch the painting in three or four days (which again did not happen), and asked him to deal with M. Graves regarding the price, to apologize for the delay, and to recognize the care with which it was made – “its sensitivity to gesture, expressions, research and costume, and the color of the century.“ In August of 1822 Ingres still had not sent the painting and, perhaps fearing that M. Graves would no longer want it, he wrote again to Gilibert and asked him to write an article about it (if this article was published, it has not been located). This letter makes it clear that in painting this version of Don Pedro Ingres was concerned not only with pleasing a patron, but also in challenging (for his own self-satisfaction) those who had criticized the work in 1814. Ingres’ sensitivity in this matter probably stemmed from the fact that his good friend Marcotte was among those who criticized the original version of the Don Pedro. In an 1814 letter to Marcotte, primarily intended to defend the painting when it was shown at the Salon submission, Ingres did admit that “as for its lack of air, you may be right. I could have, it is true, lengthened the background, but how many paintings by doing that, especially those of the Italian school….“ Ingres evidently took Marcotte’s critique seriously to heart, and the elongated background is the feature in which this painting differs most radically from the other two.

3. He cited specifically the black frame on the portrait of Marie de’ Medici presented to Henri IV in Rubens’ Marie de’ Medici cycle (letter of 4 Oct. 1822, Boyer d’Agen, op. cit., pp. 88-90).
4. Marie-Joseph Chenier, Charles IX ou l’école des Rois, Paris, Didot, 1790. The three scenes set in the Louvre can be consulted in the Collection De Vinck, Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale (nos. 3516, 3518, 3521).
5. Journal de l’Empire, Nov. 11, 1814, p. 3.
6. Letter of Aug. 29, 1822 (Boyer d’Agen, Ingres, d’après une correspondance inédite, Paris, 1909, p. 87). This type of courtly deference seemed very foreign to the nineteenth century. Edmond About wrote in his review of the 1855 Exposition Universelle, where the picture was exhibited, “Don Pedro is a dull flatterer and an unworthy ambassador of his country. What would one have thought, in 1810, at the court of Fontainebleau, if the ambassador of Spain had stopped a page demanding to kiss the sword of Napoleon while kneeling? Artists would neither have painted it nor made platitudes.“ (Voyage à travers l’exposition des beaux-arts, Paris, 1855, p. 131).
7. There has been some confusion in the Ingres literature, since the nineteenth century, between the present picture and the 1814 Salon picture of the same subject. Thus the portion of the provenance from Deymié to de Prat de Lestang has been associated with both the 1820 and the 1814 versions. Deymié is given as the owner of the 1814 Salon picture in the 1851 edition of Oeuvres de J.A. Ingres (Magimel, ed.). Charles Blanc (Ingres. Sa Vie et Ses Ouvrages, Paris, 1870, p. 232) lists A. M. Deymié of Montauban as the owner the 1820 version. Henry Lapauze (op. cit., p. 131) reproduces the present picture as owned by M. de Prat de Lestang, but dates it 1814. The 1954 Wildenstein catalogue includes Deymié and de Prat de Lestang in the provenance of the present picture, dated to 1820 in this catalogue.
Related Works (Paintings): variant of our painting, painted in 1819 for the painter Jean Alaux, oil on canvas: 17 3/4 x 14 1/2 inches (43.8 x 36.8 cm.) , Pau, Musée des Beaux Arts; Don Pedro of Toledo Kissing the Sword of Henri IV, 1832, oil on canvas: 15 x 11 3/4 inches (38.1 x 29.9 cm.), Louvre, Paris, no. R.F. 1981-56.
Related Works (Drawings): Graphite and brown wash: 10 7/16 x 7 11/16 inches (26.5 x 19.5 cm.), Inscribed: Ingres Inv. et pinxit, Rome 1816, sold Charpentier, Mar 20, 1959, no 4 ; Graphite, black crayon, pen and brown ink on wove paper: 6 11/16 x 4 1/2 inches (16.7 x 10.9 cm.), c. 1820-25, Musée Ingres, Montauban, 867.1368; graphite on paper: 5 1/8 x 7 1/16 inches (13 x 18 cm.), 1821, Uffizi, Florence, no. 118555; graphite and white gouache on paper: 7 1/2 x 5 1/8 inches (19 x 13 cm.), 1825, Sale Hotel Drouot, Jun 19, 1968, no. 25 as part of an album; graphite, pen and brown ink on tracing paper: 13 1/2 x 10 1/8 inches (34.4 x 25.7 cm.), c.1832, Montauban, Musée Ingres, Inv. no. 867.1367 Prof. Daniel Ternois, “Du bon usage des correspondances d’artistes; les lettres d’Ingres à Narcotte et à Gilbert,” in Bulletin de l’Art français, Année 1995, Societé de l’Art français, 1996, pp. 220-238.

19 1/8 x 15 11/16 inches (48.5 x 40.5 cm.)
Oil on wood panel

Provenance: Painted for the 1814 Salon, then revised and completed for M. Graves, Montauban;[7] [Deymié, Montauban; de Prat de Lestang;] anonymous sale April 27th 1897, lot 39 (bt. in); Oslo, Halfdan Mustad,; New York, Private Collection.


Literature: (selected references): Henri Delaborde, Ingres, sa vie, ses travaux, sa-doctrine, Paris, 1870, pp. 232-233; Henry Lapauze, Ingres, sa vie et son oeuvre (1780 – 1867), Paris, 1911, pp. 188-189; A.-J. Boyer d’Agen, Ingres, d’après une correspondance inédite, Paris, 1909, pp. 62-64, 72, 83, 86-90, 92, 102 & 112; Georges Wildenstein, The Paintings of J. A. D. Ingres, 1954, cat. no. 141; Norman Schlenoff, Ingres, ses sources littéraires, Paris, 1956, p. 134; Jon Whiteley, Ingres, London 1977, p. 57; Patricia Condon with Marjorie B. Cohn and Agnes Mongan,. In Pursuit of Perfection: The Art of J.-A.-D. Ingres, J. B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, 1983, pp. 78 & 241; Daniel Ternois and Ettore Camesasca, Tout L’Oeuvre Peint de Ingres, Paris, 1984, pp. 96-97, illus. in color, plate XXIX.; Amaury-Duval, L’Atelier d’Ingres, Arthena, 1993, p. 46; George Vigne, Ingres, New York, 1995, p. 126, pl. 97.; New Orleans Museum of Art, New York Stair Sainty Matthiesen Inc, Cincinnati Taft Museum, 1996-97, Romance and Chivalry, History and Literature Reflected in Early Nineteenth Century French Painting, catalogue no. 37, pp. 15, 86-87, 88-90, 170, 210, 211-212, illus: chapter title page 15, figs: 59, 128, & 153; Prof. Daniel Ternois, “Du bon usage des correspondances d’artistes; les lettres d’Ingres à Narcotte et à Gilbert,” in Bulletin de l’Art français, Année 1995, Societé de l’Art français, 1996, pp. 220-238.


Exhibited: Paris, Salon, 1814, no. 533; Paris, Exposition Universelle, 1855 (no. 3357); Paris, école des Beaux -arts. Tableaux, études peintes, dessins et croquis de J.A.D. Ingres, 1867 (no 67); London, Tate Gallery, The Romantic Movement, 1959 (no. 220);

Where is It?
Acquired from The Matthiesen Gallery by the Louvre Abu Dhabi
Historical Period
Neoclassicism - 1780-1820
Historical events
1996-Romance and Chivalry: History and Literature reflected in Early Nineteenth Century French Painting.
Hardback book. 300 pages, fully illustrated with 90 colour plates and 100 black and white illustrations. Introduction (40 pages) by Guy Stair Sainty, twelve essays, catalogue, appendix of salons 1801-24 and bibliography. £50 or $80 inc. p.& p.

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