Picasso Ingres: Face to Face

On View: October 21, 2022 - January 30, 2023
Release Date: April 13, 2022

Pasadena, CA—The Norton Simon Museum is delighted to present Picasso Ingres: Face to Face, an exhibition that brings together two extraordinary, interrelated paintings for the first time: Pablo Picasso’s Woman with a Book (1932) and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s Madame Moitessier (1856). A partnership between the Norton Simon Museum and the National Gallery, London, this exhibition explores Picasso’s long-standing fascination with Ingres and the generative process that resulted from his confrontation with a celebrated work of art. It will be on view at the Norton Simon Museum from October 21, 2022, to January 30, 2023, following its presentation at the National Gallery from June 3 to October 9, 2022.

About the Paintings

Commissioned in 1844, Madame Moitessier is one of Ingres’s most ambitious and challenging works. It depicts Marie-Clotilde-Inès Moitessier, the wife of a wealthy merchant, resplendent in an armchair and surrounded by the luxurious trappings of her grand salon. Though Ingres avoided portraiture at this stage in his career (preferring the intellectual challenge of history painting), he was purportedly convinced to paint Inès Moitessier after being “struck by her beauty” in person. Finally completed in 1856, Madame Moitessier was immediately recognized as one of Ingres’s greatest achievements, a complex and captivating likeness that balances the sitter’s imperious pose with an illogically angled reflection in the mirror behind her that appears to defy the rules of optics altogether.

Ingres’s propensity to bend naturalistic representation appealed to many modernists, most notably Picasso, who looked to him for inspiration throughout the first three decades of his career. Though he may have known Madame Moitessier in reproduction, Picasso saw the painting in person for the first time at a major retrospective dedicated to the French artist in 1921, and he never forgot it. Eleven years later, while engrossed in a series of works that depict his young lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso painted Woman with a Book, one of the most direct homages to Ingres that he had made to date. The painting depicts Walter reprising Moitessier’s iconic pose, but Picasso transformed and amplified his source, brightening and abstracting the palette and heightening the sitter’s eroticism. Even Moitessier’s famously incongruent reflection gains an extra dimension here, as the androgynous profile in the gold-framed mirror alludes to Walter and to the artist himself—a ghostly voyeur on the scene.

Madame Moitessier was acquired by the National Gallery, London, in March of 1936, coincidentally the very same month that Woman with a Book was first exhibited in Paris (it joined the Simon collections in 1960). Now, 101 years after Picasso’s initial encounter with Madame Moitessier, audiences will at last have the opportunity to view these two masterpieces side by side. The exhibition also marks the first time Madame Moitessier has traveled to the West Coast, and more than twenty years since its last visit to the United States.

Picasso Ingres: Face to Face is a collaboration between the Norton Simon Museum and the National Gallery, London. Chief Curator Emily Talbot is overseeing its presentation in Pasadena, where will it be on view in the Museum’s 19th-century art wing from October 21, 2022, to January 30, 2023. 

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.

About the Publication

To complement the exhibition, the two institutions have partnered to produce a catalogue that explores the relationship between Madame Moitessier and Woman with a Book in greater depth. The volume is authored by Christopher Riopelle, the Neil Westreich Curator of Post-1800 Paintings at the National Gallery, London; Emily Talbot, the Chief Curator of the Norton Simon Museum; and Susan L. Siegfried, the Denise Riley Collegiate Professor Emerita of the History of Art and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. It is being published by the National Gallery Company Ltd. and distributed by Yale University Press.


Press Contacts

Leslie Denk
(626) 844-6900
[email protected]

Emma Jacobson-Sive
(323) 842-2064
[email protected]

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Read about the exhibition.

Images for the Press

Ingres's 1856 painting of Madame Moitessier

Madame Moitessier, 1856
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780-1867)
Oil on canvas
© The National Gallery, London

Picasso's 1932 painting titled Woman with a Book

Woman with a Book, 1932
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Oil on canvas
The Norton Simon Foundation
© 2022 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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About the Norton Simon Museum

The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a 30-year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art from Europe and the United States, acquired by the former Pasadena Art Museum, also occupies an important place in the Museum’s collections. The Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens.

Location: The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. at Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif., at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. For general Museum information, please call (626) 449-6840 or visit nortonsimon.org. Hours: The Museum is open Thursday through Monday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Friday and Saturday to 7 p.m.).  It is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Admission: General admission is $20 for adults and $15 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. The first Friday of the month from 4 to 7 p.m. is free to all. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Parking: Parking is free but limited, and no reservations are necessary. Public Transportation: Pasadena Transit stops directly in front of the Museum. Please visit http://pasadenatransit.net for schedules. The MTA bus line #180/181 stops in front of the Museum. The Memorial Park Station on the MTA Gold Line, the closest Metro Rail station to the Museum, is located at 125 E. Holly St. at Arroyo Parkway. Please visit www.metro.net for schedules. Planning your Visit: For up-to-date information on our guidelines and protocols, please visit nortonsimon.org/visit.

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