Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres is the main face of nineteenth-century academism. Known as an artist and as a musician - in his youth he played in an opera orchestra. Almost half of his adult life was spent in Italy. Conventionally, the master’s work is divided into several stages. As an artist, he formed early; Great influence on Ingres had the art of the Middle Ages. In the first Italian period (1806-1824) he painted very close to romanticism. In Paris in the twenties he became interested in neoclassicism, but he constantly went beyond the scope of this genre, because of which he had to break with the Paris Salon. Ingres believed that after Raphael, the development of art went in the wrong direction, and that his task was to continue to paint from the Renaissance, crossing out all subsequent artistic achievements.
The painting of the Madonna in front of the cup with the sacrament was painted during the artist's second stay in Rome. At that time he lived in a Villa Medici - the same as a quarter century ago. The reason for moving to Italy was an official appointment - Ingres became the director of the French Academy in Rome. During this period, he carried out a reform of the education of artists, believing that the main thing for young masters was to bring up the art of the past. Paintings of the second Roman period have survived to our time. The picture of the Madonna in front of the communion cup was ordered by the heir to the Russian throne, the future emperor Alexander II. The heir wished that on the left and right of the Madonna were depicted two saints revered in Russia - Nikolai Ugodnik and Alexander Nevsky.
In the center of the picture we see the Madonna, brightly lit with gold. The light source is outside the picture, the light comes from the viewer. The woman’s eyes are modestly lowered, but the flirty half-smile on her face contrasts with the classic religious plot. The canvas is saturated with symbols to the limit. The number of items on the table is equal to the number of characters, - in fact, the items of characters and personify. Candlesticks are symbols of the masculine principle, the feminine essence is displayed by a rounded prosphora. In Russia, the picture was not fully appreciated; numerous critics complained that it is essentially Catholic and has no relation to Orthodoxy.