Picasso and Ingres come face to face at Norton Simon Museum in October

Left, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867), ‘Madame Moitessier,’ 1856. Oil on canvas, 120 by 92.1cm. © The National Gallery, London; Right, Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), ‘Woman with a Book,’ 1932. Oil on canvas, 51 3/8 by 38 1/2in. (130.5 by 97.8cm). The Norton Simon Foundation. © 2022 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Left, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867), ‘Madame Moitessier,’ 1856. Oil on canvas, 120 by 92.1cm. © The National Gallery, London; Right, Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), ‘Woman with a Book,’ 1932. Oil on canvas, 51 3/8 by 38 1/2in. (130.5 by 97.8cm). The Norton Simon Foundation. © 2022 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

PASADENA, Calif. — The Norton Simon Museum is delighted to present Picasso Ingres: Face to Face, an exhibition that brings together two extraordinary, interrelated paintings for the first time: Pablo Picasso’s Woman with a Book (1932) and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s Madame Moitessier (1856). A partnership between the Norton Simon Museum and the National Gallery, London, this exhibition explores Picasso’s long-standing fascination with Ingres and the generative process that resulted from his confrontation with a celebrated work of art. It will be on view at the Norton Simon Museum from October 21 to January 30, 2023.

Commissioned in 1844, Madame Moitessier is one of Ingres’s most ambitious and challenging works. It depicts Marie-Clotilde-Ines Moitessier, the wife of a wealthy merchant, resplendent in an armchair and surrounded by the luxurious trappings of her grand salon. Though Ingres avoided portraiture at this stage in his career (preferring the intellectual challenge of history painting), he was purportedly convinced to paint Ines Moitessier after being “struck by her beauty” in person. Finally completed in 1856, Madame Moitessier was immediately recognized as one of Ingres’s greatest achievements, a complex and captivating likeness that balances the sitter’s imperious pose with an illogically angled reflection in the mirror behind her that appears to defy the rules of optics altogether.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867), ‘Madame Moitessier,’ 1856. Oil on canvas, 120 by 92.1cm. © The National Gallery, London

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867), ‘Madame Moitessier,’ 1856. Oil on canvas, 120 by 92.1cm. © The National Gallery, London

Ingres’s propensity to bend naturalistic representation appealed to many modernists, most notably Picasso, who looked to him for inspiration throughout the first three decades of his career. Though he may have known Madame Moitessier in reproduction, Picasso saw the painting in person for the first time at a major retrospective dedicated to the French artist in 1921, and he never forgot it. Eleven years later, while engrossed in a series of works that depict his young lover, Marie-Therese Walter, Picasso painted Woman with a Book, one of the most direct homages to Ingres that he had made to date. The painting depicts Walter reprising Moitessier’s iconic pose, but Picasso transformed and amplified his source, brightening and abstracting the palette and heightening the sitter’s eroticism. Even Moitessier’s famously incongruent reflection gains an extra dimension here, as the androgynous profile in the gold-framed mirror alludes to Walter and to the artist himself — a ghostly voyeur on the scene.

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), ‘Woman with a Book,’ 1932. Oil on canvas, 51 3/8 by 38 1/2in. (130.5 by 97.8cm). The Norton Simon Foundation. © 2022 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), ‘Woman with a Book,’ 1932. Oil on canvas, 51 3/8 by 38 1/2in. (130.5 by 97.8cm). The Norton Simon Foundation. © 2022 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Madame Moitessier was acquired by the National Gallery, London, in March of 1936, coincidentally the very same month that Woman with a Book was first exhibited in Paris (it joined the Simon collections in 1960). Now, 101 years after Picasso’s initial encounter with Madame Moitessier, audiences will at last have the opportunity to view these two masterpieces side by side. The exhibition also marks the first time Madame Moitessier has traveled to the West Coast, and more than 20 years since its last visit to the United States.

Picasso Ingres: Face to Face is a collaboration between the Norton Simon Museum and the National Gallery, London. Chief Curator Emily Talbot is overseeing its presentation in Pasadena. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.

Visit the website of the Norton Simon Museum and see its dedicated page for Picasso Ingres: Face to Face.