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Fleshing Out SurfacesSkin in French Art and Medicine, 1650-1850$
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Mechthild Fend

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087967

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087967.001.0001

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Hermetic borderline

Hermetic borderline

Chapter:
(p.237) 7 Hermetic borderline
Source:
Fleshing Out Surfaces
Author(s):

Mechthild Fend

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719087967.003.0007

This chapter focuses on a set of nudes and portraits by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. It engages with the artist's ambivalent relationship with artistic anatomy and demonstrates the artist's increasing attention to the body's surface achieved through a reduction of modelling of the physical forms. Ingres changed the terms of the fabrication of flesh tones – carnations – and skin became deliberately non-physiological. Critics registered Ingres's peculiar handling of skin and flesh as one of the artist's idiosyncrasies and their writings manifest a gradual shift in the understanding of the body in paint. In Ingres‘ paintings themselves, the established association of flesh and paint was replaced by the alignment of the skin with the images‘ ground, be it canvas or paper in the case of drawings, and of the depicted skin with the polished painterly surface. The final section argues that the suppression of anatomical detail is pushed to the extreme in Ingres‘ portraits of women, resulting in a renunciation of physiognomic paradigms in which a person's exterior is meant to refer to internal qualities and character. Like in his Valpinçon Bather, the concealment of skin goes along with the closure of the interior space.

Keywords:   artistic anatomy, character, flesh tones, paint handling, physiognomy, portrait, skin, surface, Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique

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