Elisabeth Keating seated playing her guitar, view of the Vatican in the background, 1816
Blacklead on white paper., H. 0.270 mm; W. 0.210 mm
Signed and dated lower right Ingres Del. Roma 1816.
Provenance: Direct from Elisabeth Keating’s family
Sale Sotheby’s, New York, 27 November 1991, lot 183a.
Elizabeth Keating, portrayed here with a view of Saint Peter’s in the background, was the daughter of an Irish Colonel Keating and Lady Martha Brabazon, second daughter of Anthony, 8th Earl of Meath. Colonel Keating, a career officer in the army, had travelled with George Payne to France, Spain and Morocco in 1784. He retired from the army in 1796 and became a writer. In the same year that Ingres drew the portrait of his daughter, the Colonel published his Travels through France, Spain and Morocco. Colonel Keating’s academie interest in Spanish culture is displayed in his 1800 English translation of Bernard Diaz de Castillo’s most controversial contemporary account of Cortèz’s invasion of Mexico. This cultural interest may account for the most unusual depiction of the sitter playing the guitar, an instrument which although popular throughout Europe, gained further popularity in the early years of the 19th Century through the influence of the Spanish virtuosi Sor and Aguado. Ingres’ interest in music is legendary but this portrait is the only one in which he draws the instrument. Ingres portrayed another English sitter, Miss Elizabeth Ann Rawdon, resting her hand on a pianoforte the following year. Another noticeable detail is the care with which Ingres indicates that the bodice of the dress bears a tartan. The dissonant juxtaposition of that material with the pattern of the cashmere shawl is one found in the dress of two other English ladies: the wife of Sir John Hay and the double portrait of the Earl of Sandwich’s daughters.
Miss Keating is depicted in a loggia overlooking the Vatican. Dr. Hans Naef points out that the background landscape represents the Vatican seen from L’Arco Oscuro and was re-used twice by Ingres in his drawn portraits. It appears first in a portrait of Charles Marcotte in 1811 and again in that of Lord Grantham dated the same year as the present sheet, H. Naef in Portraits by Ingres, Images of an Epodi, exhib. cat, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and elsewhere, 1999, p. 122, fig. 112 and no. 64.
Georges Vigne suggested that Ingres appropriated the Vatican view from one of the drawings in the Montauban album that he attributed to the ‘Maître aux petits points’, G. Vigne, Dessins d’Ingres, Catalogue raisonné des dessins du musée de Montauban, Paris, 1995, no. 2853. The portrait of another English lady, Mrs Charles Badham, shows the sitter seated behind a similar ledge, with a view of the Villa Medici.
The attribution of the drawing was confirmed a year after its appearance on the market in 1991 by Dr. Hans Naef (on the back of a photograph dated 28 June 1992 available with the présent lot). The drawing had never left the sitter’s family. Elizabeth Keating married Claud Alexander of Ballochmyle (1789-1845); she died in 1843.