Ingres’ Copy of Holbein’s Henry VIII
The claim made for the first time by this website that artists have long used face fusion to meld their own features with those of their portrait sitters is supported in the Galleries by dozens of visual comparisons. Unfortunately, photography is such a recent invention we rarely have an accurate likeness of the sitter to unquestionably prove the point. There is, though, one exception: when an artist copies a portrait by another artist while changing it at the same time. Take a look at how Ingres copied Holbein’s Portrait of Henry VIII which is itself based on Holbein’s own self-portrait with his square-cornered beard.
These two faces may look the same at first glance but are not. The original on the left by Holbein has a fuller beard, a longer face, smaller eyes, a more bulbous nose and a narrower mouth. Ingres took Holbein’s iconic portrayal of the English king and changed it. He must have done it on purpose because he would have had no trouble copying the portrait exactly. We can find out what he did – and why – by comparing it to a self-portrait drawing.
Enlarge the image at left and you will notice that:
- Henry’s face and beard is shorter to resemble the squarer shape of Ingres’ head
- the beard is lighter to reveal cheeks matching Ingres’
- the left side of Henry’s eyelid on the left has been raised to more closely resemble Ingres'.
- the shadow on the nose is lighter to reveal a nostril like Ingres’ and to broaden the bridge
- and the mouth has two small diagonal marks on either side suggestive of Ingres’
See conclusion below
Find out how this portrait by Holbein represents the artist even if he had not also used face fusion
Original Publication Date on EPPH: 27 Oct 2010. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.