Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Oil painting - A Sleeping Odalisque
  • A Sleeping Odalisque
    Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique, born 1780 - died 1867
  • Enlarge image

A Sleeping Odalisque

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Rome (possibly, painted)

  • Date:

    1810s-1830s (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique, born 1780 - died 1867 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, Room 81, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries, case WEST WALL

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) was born in Montauban. He studied with local painters in Toulouse before entering the Paris studio of David (1748-1825) in 1797. He was soon consider as the champion of the French classical tradition of history painting, traditionally opposed to the art of Delacroix in the early 19th century. Ingres was awarded the prix de Rome in 1801 and alternated long sojourns in Italy and Paris from 1806 but spent the last 9 years of his life in Paris where he died aged 87. His oeuvre also includes portraits paintings which represent a good testimonial of the 19th-century French high society.

This painting was probably a preparatory study for one of Ingres' Odalisques, a prototype of female reclining nude which recurs in several compositions. The precise painting for which it was a study is still subject to debate as well as the dating. However it was probably made in Rome between 1810 and 1830.

Physical description

Nude female figure, full length, reclining on a red sofa, her head vanishing in the shadow.

Place of Origin

Rome (possibly, painted)


1810s-1830s (painted)


Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique, born 1780 - died 1867 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

At the back printed label with name and address of the Baron Jules de Hauff, of Brussels

'J. Ingres'
Signed by the artist, lower left


Height: 29.8 cm estimate, Width: 47.6 cm estimate, Height: 59.5 cm Frame, Width: 78 cm Frame, Depth: 13 cm Frame

Object history note

Coll. Baron Jules de Hauff, Brussels; from whom purchased on 13 May 1881 as Ingres 'Femme couché' by Goupil & Co., Paris (stock book no. 15388); from whom bought by Constantine Alexander Ionides, probably on 21 November 1881; listed in his inventory (private collection) in November 1881 as 'Odalisque Dormant' by Ingres with a valuation of £1000; bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides in 1900.

Historical significance: According to Ingres' biographer Henri Delaborde, this work belonged to the Baron of Hauff, in Brussels, and was painted in Rome as a study for the Sleeper of Naples, a painting commissioned by Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples, and probably destroyed around 1815. Ingres added some accessories (such as the red sofa and draperies) around the female nude in order to convert the study into a finished painting. The composition was then engraved by M. Alès and published in L'Artiste (1846) under the title: L'Odalisque.

The nature of this work is still subject to debate. It is alternatively identified as a preparatory study or a replica of the Sleeper of Naples (see Louvre, 2006 and Shelton, 2008), which formed a pendant to the Grande Odalisque executed in 1814 (Louvre, Paris - RF1158). Ingres executed a series of several female nudes in the same posture, except from the position of the right arm and leg (see one in the Musée Ingres (867.2030), and another formerly in Lady Aberconway Collection).

The representation of a reclining female nude recurs in several compositions in Ingres' oeuvre which includes the later Odalisque with a Slave, Fogg Art Museum Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Jupiter and Antiope, Musée d'Orsay, to which the present work may also be related. A pencil study (11.3 x 17.8 cm) after the former work by Alphonse Legros (1837-1911) also belonged to C.A. Ionides, and formed part of his bequest to the V&A (CAI.1134).

The sinuous lines and elongated limbs of the figure are characteristics of Ingres, who tried to emulate the art of Raphael and Michelangelo in Rome. The posture of Ingres' Odalisque would have a great influence on other artists such as Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889), whose Birth of Venus (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) clearly derives from Ingres' prototype.

Historical context note

History painting, i.e. depictions of non recurring events based on religious, classical, literary or allegorical sources, particularly developed in Italy during the Renaissance (15th-16th centuries). History painting could include religious themes, or depictions of momentous recent events, but the term was most frequently associated with Classical subject-matter. However a renewed impetus was given to religious subjects after the Council of Trent (1545-63), which stipulated new iconographical programmes. The development of art treatises, in which the compositional rules guiding the art of painting were discussed also notably, influenced the evolution of history painting. From around 1600 history painting's principal rivals: still-life, landscape and genre painting began to emerge as independent collectable genres. Furthermore, the Rococo taste for the ornamental in the early 18th century prioritised the decorative quality of history painting, so that subject matters became more entertaining than exemplary. There was a renewed interest in history painting during the Neo-Classical period after which the taste for such pictures faded towards the end of the 19th century when an innovative approach to the image was led by the Symbolists and was developed further by subsequent schools in the early 20th century.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'A Sleeping Odalisque', Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1810s-1830s

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Fleckner, Uwe, Ingres, 1780-1867, Paris, Gallimard, Musee du Louvre, 2006
Delaborde, Henri, Ingres. Sa vie, ses travaux, sa doctrine, Paris, 1870, p. 239, no. 79.
'The Constantine Alexander Ionides Bequest. article 2, Ingres, Delacroix, Daumier and Degas', The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, vol. 5, n. 18 (Sept 1904), p. 529.
B.S. Long, Catalogue of the Constantine Alexander Ionides collection. Vol. 1, Paintings in oil, tempera and water-colour, together with certain of the drawings, London, 1925, no. 57 p. 28.
Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 51-52, cat. no. 112.
C. Monkhouse, ‘The Constantine Ionides Collection’ in Magazine of Art, vii, 1884, p. 39.
Sir C. Holmes in The Burlington Magazine, v, 1904, p. 531, repr.
J. Momméja, 'Le "Bain Turc" d'Ingres' in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, xxxvi (2),1906, p. 186.
H. Lapauze, Ingres, 1911, p. 102.
G. Wildenstein, Ingres, 2nd ed., 1956, no. 55, fig. 35.
R. Rosenblum, Ingres, 1967, p. 142, fig. 125.
A. Zanni, Ingres. Catalogo completo dei dipinti, Florence, 1990, p. 129.
A. C. Shelton, Ingres, New York, 2008, fig. 47, p. 56.
E. Camesasca, L'opera completa di Ingres, Milan, 1968, reprint 1984, no. 57d, p. 92, illus.
D. Ternois ed., Lettres d'Ingres à Marcotte d'Argenteuil. Dictionnaire, Nogent-le-Roi: J. Laget, 2001 , pp. 89-90.
Lambert, Susan. Drawing: Technique & Purpose. London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1981. p.29.
Stéphane Guégan and Florence Viguier-Dutheil, eds, 'Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres : e la vita artistica al tempo di Napoleone'. Venezia : Marsilio, 2019.
pp. 196-7
Memorial catalogue of the French and Dutch loan collection, Edinburgh : Printed at the University Press by T. & A. Constable & Published by D. Douglas, 1888
Henley, William Ernest. Catalogue of a loan collection of pictures by the great French and Dutch romanticists of this century, London : Dowdeswell Galleries, 1889
Exhibition of works by the Old Masters and by deceased masters of the British school : Winter Exhibition, twenty seventh year, London : Royal Academy of Arts, 1896


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Odalisque; Sleep; Nude




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.