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Ingres' "La Grande Odalisque" And Manet's "Olympia" A Comparison

1062 words - 5 pages

This essay is comparing paintings of reclining female nudes thru the history of art. -Ingres' "La Grande Odalisque" and Manet's "Olympia" a ComparisonThe reclining female nude has been a recurring image in the history of European art. Each artist through time approaches the subject in a different, individualized way. An earlier example of the reclining nude is Giorgione's "Sleeping Venus," created around 1510(see fig. 1). His nude is painted using the clair obscur method with soft, blurred lines, making her fair skin fade slowly into the dark background. Her eyes are closed, giving an aura of innocence, because she is unaware of being observed. Also, Giorgione seems to be experimenting with ...view middle of the document...

Her awareness may have been less of an impact on Ingres' society because the body of "La Grande Odalisque" is painted more modestly; it is facing in, away from the viewer. It was also more accepted in Ingres' society because it was painted after the shock of Goya's work. The advancement of time has given Europe a chance to broaden its perspectives, and become more open-minded regarding the strict rules of painting nudes.If Ingres' style in "La Grande Odalisque" is examined, one can definitely see classical influence playing a large part. The classical influence is most clear through the solid delineation of the figure. There are no blurred or choppy lines. Classical influence is also shown through the way Ingres paints his nude with very smooth, invisible brush strokes. The skin and textures of fabric seem so real, they are practically photographic. She is painted indoors, but the black background behind the blue curtain denotes openness, as seen in classical works.Even though these obvious classical influences exist, Ingres did not follow the classical masters exactly as other Neo-Classical artists did. The figures' slight deformation does not coincide with the classical challenge to create the perfect body. Why did Ingres reject the classical style when he shaped the body of his nude? Some critics felt that because of her unusual shape, Ingres must have been following the Mannerists, who with their unnatural ways of painting rejected the normal classic figure. However, it is also believed that Ingres elongated the back and outstretched arm to create a more sensual and erotic shape. His painting may also be considered romantic in subject matter, even though his style is Neo-Classical.Almost fifty years after Ingres painted "La Grande Odalisque," Manet created "Olympia"(see fig. 4). Olympia could be considered the most unconventional nude up to this point. She was painted in 1863, and again, society rejected the reclining figure. Olympia was the first...

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