The sitter was an artist who exhibited regularly at the Salon and was also the author of popular drawing manuals. At the time Ingres painted her, she was married to one of his pupils, Clément Boulanger (1805–1842). Traces of a curving edge on the surface of the canvas indicate that the portrait had been framed as an oval before Ingres added the dedication to her as Madame Cavé, which must have taken place a decade later, after she remarried. Ingres’s 1844 portrait of Monsieur Cavé (43.85.2) was conceived as a pendant to the present work.
Inscription: Signed and inscribed (lower right): Ingres à Madame Cavé
Mme Edmond Cavé, née Marie-Élisabeth Blavot, Paris (gift of the artist; before 1834–at least 1885); her son, Marie-Henry-Albert Boulanger-Cavé, Paris (by 1885–d. 1910); his cousin, Gaston Le Roy, Paris (1910–d. 1925; his estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 19–20, 1926, no. 53, as "Portrait de Madame François[sic] Cavé," for Fr 136,000, to Paul and Marcel Jonas for Rosenberg); [Paul Rosenberg & Co., Paris, 1926]; C. Chauncey Stillman, New York (after 1926–d. 1927; his estate sale, American Art Association, New York, February 3, 1927, no. 10, as "Portrait de Madame Cavé," for $ 13,000, to Rosenberg for Rogers); Grace Rainey Rogers, New York, (1927–d. 1943)
Paris. Galeries Georges Petit. "Exposition Ingres... organisée au profit du Musée Ingres," April 26–May 14, 1911, no. 46 (as "Portrait de Mme Cavé," lent by M. Gaston Le Roy).
New York. Paul Rosenberg. "Ingres in American Collections," April 7–May 6, 1961, no. 58 (as "Mme. Edmond-Ludovic-Auguste-Cave[sic]").
Cambridge, Mass. Fogg Art Museum. "Ingres Centennial Exhibition: 1867–1967," February 12–April 9, 1967, no. 89 (as "Portrait of Madame Cavé, née Marie-Elisabeth[sic] Blavot").
Paris. Petit Palais. "Ingres," October 27, 1967–January 29, 1968, no. 229 (as "Madame Cavé").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ingres at the Metropolitan," December 13, 1988–March 19, 1989, no catalogue (as "Madame Edmond Cavé (Marie Elisabeth[sic] Blavot, born 1810)").
London. National Gallery. "Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch," January 27–April 25, 1999, no. 123 (as "Madame Clément Boulanger, née Marie-Élisabeth Blavot, later Madame Edmond Cavé").
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch," May 23–August 22, 1999, no. 123.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch," October 5, 1999–January 2, 2000, no. 123.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Letter to Monsieur Cavé. July 27, 1844, calls this work a sketch; indicates that Mme Cavé had asked him to make a portrait of M. Cavé to serve as a pendant for her earlier portrait.
Marie-Élisabeth Cavé. La couleur . . . ouvrage approuvé par M. Eugène Delacroix pour apprendre la peinture à l'huille et à l'aquarelle. 3rd ed. Paris, 1863, p. 127 [see Ref. Angrand 1966], mentions this portrait as an example of a rough draft in oils; remarks that although it took Ingres only one hour to make this portrait it is one of his masterpieces.
Exposition Ingres. Exh. cat., Galeries Georges Petit. Paris, 1911, p. 24, no. 46.
Henry Lapauze. Ingres: Sa vie & son oeuvre (1780–1867), d'après des documents inédits. Paris, 1911, pp. 386, 389, ill., dates it about 1845.
L[ili]. Fröhlich-Bum. Ingres sein Leben und sein Stil. Vienna, 1924, p. 26.
"Revue des ventes de Mai et Juin: Jeudi 20 Mai, Hôtel Drouot." Le Figaro artistique (July 15, 1926), pp. 633–34, ill., states that Paul and Marcel Jonas bought this portrait for Fr 136,000 on May 20, 1926.
Le vieux collectionneur. "Les ventes à Paris." Le bulletin de l'art ancien et moderne no. 730 (July–August 1926), p. 232, ill., gives an account of the sale of the collection of M. Gaston Le Roy; notes that the portraits of M. and Mme Cavé fetched the highest prices, Fr 126,000 and Fr 136,000 respectively.
Louis Hourticq. Ingres: L'oeuvre du maître. Paris, 1928, p. 89, ill., dates it 1845.
André Joubin. "Deux amis de Delacroix: Mme Élisabeth Boulanger-Cavé et Mme Rang-Babut." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 57 (January 1930), pp. 58–75, ill., dates it 1844; gives biographical information about Mme Cavé.
Georges Wildenstein. The Paintings of J. A. D. Ingres. 1st ed. 1954, p. 216, no. 246, pl. 94, as "Mme E.-L.-A. Cavé, née Marie -Élisabeth Blavot, previously married to the painter Clément Boulanger; born in 1815".
Georges Wildenstein. The Paintings of J. A. D. Ingres. 2nd revised ed. London, 1956, p. 216, no. 247, pl. 94.
Ingres in American Collections. Exh. cat., Paul Rosenberg. New York, April 7–May 6, 1961, p. 51, no. 58, ill., dates it 1844.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, pp. 12–13, ill., date it 1844, noting that Mme Cavé was probably about 34 years old at the time it was painted; remark that both portraits are the same size and are inscribed with the same dedication by Ingres, concluding that they were probably painted on the occasion of their marriage.
Pierre Angrand. Marie-Elizabeth Cavé: Disciple de Delacroix. Paris, 1966, p. 22 n. 1, plate II.
Ingres Centennial Exhibition: 1867–1967. Exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum. Greenwich, Conn., 1967, unpaginated, no. 89, ill., remarks that the portraits of M. and Mme Cavé were probably made by Ingres as a wedding gift.
Daniel Ternois inIngres. Exh. cat., Petit Palais. Paris, 1967, pp. 296–97, no. 229, ill.
Ettore Camesasca inL'opera completa di Ingres. Milan, 1968, p. 112, no. 137, colorpl. XLVII.
Important Old Master Pictures. Christie's, London. July 9, 1976, p. 46, attribute an oval study for this painting to Ingres.
Gaëtan Picon. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. 2nd ed. [1st ed. 1967]. New York, 1980, p. 100 [1st edition has different page numbers].
Marjorie B. Cohn and Susan L. Siegfried. Works by J.-A.-D. Ingres in the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum. Cambridge, Mass., 1980, p. 124.
Avigdor Arikha. J. A. D. Ingres: Fifty Life Drawings from the Musée Ingres at Montauban. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Houston, 1986, p. 85, considers this portrait to be much earlier than the 1844 portrait of M. Cavé.
Annalisa Zanni. Ingres: catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1990, p. 120, no. 91, ill.
Gary Tinterow inPortraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch. Ed. Gary Tinterow and Philip Conisbee. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1999, pp. 394–98, 552, no. 123, ill. (color), as probably painted in the early 1830s, before Ingres's departure to Rome in 1834; comments that in portraits dating from the late 1830s to the 1850s Mme Cavé's hair is ebony, rather than the blond seen here, which she had when she was younger; remarks that Ingres rarely made sketches such as this one and those that survive were made in preparation for allegorical figures in his history paintings; posits that Ingres asked Mme Cavé to pose for him in the early 1830s without intending to paint her portrait, perhaps considering including her features in the figure of Stratonice (W232; Musée Condé, Chantilly); publishes and translates a letter from Ingres to M. Cavé of 1844 [see Ref. Ingres 1844].
It is not known precisely when Ingres made this oil sketch, but it was probably painted in the early 1830s, rather than in 1844, when Ingres painted a pendant portrait of her husband. This painting was once in an oval frame, traces of which can still be seen; Ingres probably took it out of the oval frame and added the dedication when he painted the portrait of Edmond Cavé in 1844.
Ingres probably met Marie-Élisabeth Blavot in 1831, when she married his student Clément Boulanger, with whom she studied painting. She took the working name Élisa Boulanger and studied watercolor technique with Camille Roqueplan. Mme Boulanger was courted by Delacroix and in 1838 they travelled together to the Low Countries; however, the trip ended badly and the affair ended quickly, although the two remained friends. Clément Boulanger died in 1842, and the following year his widow married Edmond Cavé, who had recently been appointed director of the Beaux-Arts.
Élisa Boulanger exhibited at the Salon from 1835 to 1855, and received favorable reviews of her watercolors throughout her career. She published a number of instructional books ranging from learning to draw, Le dessin sans maître (1850), L'aquarelle sans maître (1851; 2nd ed. 1856), and Couleur . . . ouvrage approuvé par M. Eugène Delacroix pour apprendre la peinture à l'huile et à l'aquarelle (1863), to catechism, La religion dans le monde (1856), and a book of beauty tips for women, Beauté physique de la femme (1868). Her first book, Le dessin sans maître, was widely distributed and was adopted as part of the curriculum in French public schools.
A related painting was included in a sale at Christie's in 1976 (unsold; still with Christie's in 1979) as an oval study by Ingres.