Portrait in profile to the left of Alexandre-Michel Beljame (1791-1881) in Rome, 1812Graphite
Signed, located and dated lower right: "Ingres à Rome 1812".
Inscribed on the reverse in black pencil: "M.Beljame / rue de Rivoli 224".
Paper mounted on cardboard.
Tondo, diameter: 18 cmProvenance
- Former Henri Delacroix collection, stamped lower right (Lugt 3604); his sale, Paris, Palais Galliera, March 31, 1962, No. 60, reproduced pl. XXII; bought by Mrs. X., then by descent.
- Collection of Mr and Mrs Z., Alpes-Maritimes.
- Dessins d'Ingres tirés de collections d'amateurs, 2nd Cahier, Paris, 1861, Salon des Arts-Unis (no copy found).
- Émile Galichon, Dessins de M. Ingres, deuxième série, "Gazette des Beaux-Arts", Paris, July 1861, p. 46: "M. BELJAME is represented in bust form, his face in profile looking to the left. Signed on the right: Ingres in Rome, 1812. Height 160 mm.
- Charles Blanc, Ingres, Paris, 1870, p.235.
- Henri Delaborde, Ingres, Paris, 1870, n° 256.
- Hans Naef, " Die Bildniszeichnungen von J.-A.-D. Ingres ", Bern, 1977, Benteli Verlag, volume I, pp. 273-275, volume IV, n° 80, p. 148, as lost.
The reappearance of this long-lost drawing completes the series of profile portraits produced by Ingres between 1810 and 1812 (see Naef, opus quoted above, N 58, 59, 60, 62, 64, 66, 67, 68, 69, 81). The description given by Galichon in 1861: "M. BELJAME is represented in bust, the face in profile looking to the left. Signed on the right: Ingres in Rome, 1812. Height 160 mm", corresponds to our drawing, except for the diameter being 2 cm smaller. This difference may be due to an old passe-partout.
The tondo shape indicates the artist's desire to try his hand at the antique profile in imitation of Roman medals. At that time, Ingres was in the midst of his passion for antiquity, like the Emperor. The subjects of his paintings reflect this, from Jupiter and Thetis to Romulus conquering Acron, via Virgil reading the Aeneid (see Naef, opus quoted above, volume I, p.203). The sharp profile of the young man, who was undoubtedly one of the young French civil servants sent to Italy during the Empire, has the appearance of those racy and elegant wildcats that France, at the height of the Empire, sent all over the place to put oil in the administrative wheels.
The youngest son of an engraver from Rouen, Pierre-Guillaume-Alexandre Beljambe, Alexandre-Michel was born in Paris in 1791. No doubt in order not to subject his two sons to the disadvantages of a name that attracted ridicule, he changed the family name to Beljame in 1824. Hans Naef found his name in the archives as an employee of the Ministry of Finance between 1827 and 1838. In the library of the Hayard family, which Ingres frequented in Rome, Naef also unearthed a book that probably belonged to Beljame with this printed label: "A.Beljame/translator/interpreter/judge/at the Court of Appeal and the courts". A handwritten signature of Beljame accompanied it, completing his titles: "A.Beljame père, de l'Académie de Rome, Rue de l'Eperon 7". Was Beljame attached to the Academy of Rome in his youth? We are
grateful to Mr. Louis Antoine Prat for having brought to our attention a correspondence exchanged with Dr. Hans Naef about this drawing.
Just after the publication of his catalogue of drawn portraits. Louis Antoine Prat had approached Dr. Naef to point out the portrait in the Delacroix sale that he had overlooked. Mr. Prat thought that it corresponded to the lost Beljame portrait. In his reply dated 19 September 1981, Hans Naef stated that he knew the drawing from the reproduction of the 1962 catalogue, and did not believe in its authenticity.
The identification of the model was not given in the Delacroix sale. A recent restoration has revealed, under an old lining paper with an inscription bearing the date "1867", another annotation prior to the lining: "Beljame / 224 rue de Rivoli". Moreover, the restoration allowed to give back to this drawing all its original fineness.