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Harmony is the visually satisfying effect of combining similar, related elements - for example, adjacent colours on the colour wheel, similar shapes etc.


Introduction to Modern European Art Ingres

This splendid painting of Joséphine-Eléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassace de Béarn, Princesse de Broglie, was Ingres' last commissioned portrait of a female sitter.


The princess, a member of the most cultivated circles of the Second Empire, was renowned for her great beauty as well as her reserve, both qualities captured in this portrait. Ingres' facility for brilliantly transcribing the material quality of objects is seen in the rich satin and lace of the sitter's gown, the silk damask upholstery, and the richly embroidered evening scarf draped across the chair.


Also rendered in exquisite detail are the princess's sumptuous jewels, which include the fashionable antique-inspired pendant around her neck.


Ingres , Princesse de Broglie, 1851-3



Note the ways in which  this picture is harmonious -


  • the richness of the dress matches the fabric in the chair

  • the gold in the chair is repeated through the jewellery, the shawl and the markings on the wall.

  • the lace in the dress is matched with the lace in the headwear, and the earrings .

  • the foreground and centre of the work have beautiful highlights - in the dress, the skin, the chair, jewellery, lace  and the shawl.

  • the darker blue against the wall accentuates both the blue and gold in the foreground.

  • the ivory of the skin is lighter in the hands but darker in the face, which against the colour of her hair sits harmoniously with the background colour in the wall.

  • note the line running from the coat of arms (this small touch of colour completes what otherwise might be an empty space) through the left shoulder down to the bustle

  • see also the sumptuous curves in the dress, her shoulder and the chair,

  • see how the gloves on the chair match the fall of the right hand.

  • on the left hand wall there is the darkness of the edge of the curtain that sits softly against the wall and in the bottom right of the corner in some casually placed items of clothing.


Overall this is a very satisfying visual image, where everything appears to be in its 'natural' place. There is no dissonance in the composition or colour palette. 

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