Madam Odalisque and Lady Olympia Essay

1182 Words Oct 12th, 2011 5 Pages
Madam Odalisque and Lady Olympia

Throughout history the subject of human body and nudity has always been a topic that artists have taken into consideration when painting, depending on the time period that they were living in and style that they were working in. By looking at the history of art through the 19th century, it is very clear that this subject was by far the most important and most consistent topic throughout this specific time period. Other subject matters such as still life, everyday life, landscapes, biblical and mythical stories and etc at some point were the most important subjects for artists to paint due to the political, social, economical and religious status of the city or country that they were living in. However
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Grande Odalisque was one of these paintings that was criticized harshly due to the elements of Romanticism that Ingres had combined within his neoclassical style. In terms of technique and style, Ingres had followed the footsteps of great masters such as Puossin for his clear and tight outline (Poussiniste), Parmigianino for his generally cool color scheme and Raphael for his figure’s face and elegance; but in terms of storytelling and theme he had adapted the romanticism theme which was exotica. Ingres chose to paint his figure as an Odalisque (a slave woman or a concubine in a harem mostly from the Turkish culture) who was from the “Orient”, an unknown and unseen place which to the French people was exotic and romantic. Since he had painted his figure in such way, “the artist made a strong concession to the contemporary Romantic taste of the exotic” (gardeners 615). Ingres was not the only artist that had been labeled as a rebel against the period’s known artistic style due to his nude figure painting Grande Odalisque. Edouard Manet was also known as an artist who crossed the boundaries of the French Academy and French society with his modern realistic looking paintings. Manet was known as “The Father of the Modern Art”. The reason for having such a title was not only because of the modern life subject matters that he painted or because of the modern technique that he had in terms of applying paint on the canvas (the color patch technique)

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