Un violon d’Ingres

Un violon d’Ingres, literally “Ingres’s violin”, refers to a hidden talent or pastime for which someone is not really known for. The expression comes from Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’s passion. The famous French painter (1780-1867) was an exceptionally talented violinist. He even was second violinist at the Orchestre du Capitole in Toulouse. He played this instrument all his life long. Since the beginning of the 20th century, this expression is used when talking about someone’s hobby: Son violon d’Ingres, c’est la pâtisserie. “Her/His hobby is baking”. 

Man Ray, Le Violon d’Ingres, 1924, Flickr

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