The Vow of Louis XIII Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Vow of Louis XIII was completed by Ingres in 1824, but he revisited the theme on several occasions later in his career in order to produce additional watercolours and study drawings.

France's Ministry of Interior chose to commission this complex piece in 1820, by which time Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was 40 years of age. It was intended to be added to the collection of the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Montauban once finished. Ingres took this commission in the hope of establishing himself as a history painter - this genre was more profitable to artists at that time than standard portraiture. Whatever the composition, Ingres was famously diligent and hard working, never settling for anything he was not entirely happy with. As such, it is believed that he worked on this painting for around four years in total. This time would have been spent producing study drawings and early paintings as he investigated different ideas for the final piece.

On initial inspection, many will be reminded of the work of Raphael, and the style is undeniably Raphaelesque. Similar pieces from the Italian master include the likes of Sistine Madonna, Madonna of Foligno and even elements of the larger-scale School of Athens. The artist presented The Vow of Louis XIII to the influential Paris Salon in 1824 and it was warmly received. Ingres was now seen as the defender of classicism against Romanticist artists such as Eugene Delacroix - he displayed The Massacre at Chios at around that same time. It appeared that the artist was now turning his back on the more daring approach that he had experimented with in recent years, much to the Salon's appreciation.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres is celebrated in the Montauban Cathedral, and this painting is amongst their collection. The original was sized at an imposing 421 x 262 cm, though Ingres produced many other large paintings during his career. There are life drawings related to this painting which are spread right across the world today, plus also a smaller oil painting in the Musée Ingres in Montauban. That version does not have the same level of detail as this piece, and so is generally regarded as a study painting. Virgin and Child Appearing to Sts. Anthony of Padua and Leopold bears many similarities in content, too, and that can be found at the Fogg Art Museum.