dominique ingres the grand odalisque

Dominique ingres the grand odalisque
The painting was commissioned by Napoleon’s sister, Queen Caroline Murat of Naples, [1] and finished in 1814. [2] Ingres drew upon works such as Dresden Venus by Giorgione, and Titian’s Venus of Urbino as inspiration for his reclining nude figure, though the actual pose of a reclining figure looking back over her shoulder is directly drawn from the 1800 Portrait of Madame Récamier by Jacques-Louis David.
Stemming from the initial criticism the painting received, the figure in Grande Odalisque is thought to be drawn with “two or three vertebrae too many.” [1] [6] Critics at the time believed the elongations to be errors on the part of Ingres, but recent studies show the elongations to have been deliberate distortions. [7] Measurements taken on the proportions of real women showed that Ingres’s figure was drawn with a curvature of the spine and rotation of the pelvis impossible to replicate. [6] It also showed the left arm of the odalisque is shorter than the right. The study concluded that the figure was longer by five instead of two or three vertebrae and that the excess affected the lengths of the pelvis and lower back instead of merely the lumbar region. [6]

Dominique ingres the grand odalisque
An important contributor to Neoclassical art, Ingres was strongly influenced by the High Renaissance painting of Raphael (1483-1520) and Titian (1485-1576), as well as the Baroque painting of classicist Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665). Thus Ingres may be said to represent the conservative strand of French painting, being primarily concerned with conserving and refining the classical traditions that were rediscovered during the Italian Renaissance. His career, however, belies such a tidy summary, being a jumble of contradictions. He was a master of drawing, yet some of his most famous figure painting is anatomically inaccurate; he was seen as the doyen of academic art, yet he was rejected by the French academy until the age of 44; his greatest ambition was to be recognized for his history painting, yet his strongest forte was portrait art and figure painting involving just a few figures; in his outlook and way of life he was conventionally bourgeois, yet according to the art critic Charles Baudelaire (1821-67) his best paintings show him to be highly sensual. In any event, his skill at painting was undeniable: at the age of 17 he joined the workshop of Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), one of France’s greatest neoclassical artists, and at 21 he won the coveted Prix de Rome. His greatest masterpieces are now thought to include: The Valpincon Bather (1808); La Grande Odalisque (1814); Oedipus and the Sphinx (1808-27); Portrait of Monsieur Bertin (1832); The Turkish Bath (1863) – all in the Louvre – and Portrait of Madame Moitessier (1856, National Gallery, London).

For an interpretation of other pictures from the 19th and 20th centuries, see: Analysis of Modern Paintings (1800-2000).

Dominique ingres the grand odalisque
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, La Grande Odalisque, 1814, oil on canvas, 36″ × 63″ (91 × 162 cm), (Musée du Louvre, Paris).
Here a languid nude is set in a sumptuous interior. At first glance this nude seems to follow in the tradition of the Great Venetian masters, see for instance, Titian’s Venus of Urbino of 1538. But upon closer examination, it becomes clear that this is no classical setting.

Dominique ingres the grand odalisque
La Grande Odalisque,
Department of Paintings: French painting

Dominique ingres the grand odalisque
Ingres portrays a concubine in languid pose as seen from behind with distorted proportions. The small head, elongated limbs, and cool color scheme all reveal influences from Mannerists such as Parmigianino, whose Madonna with the Long Neck was also famous for anatomical distortion.
Stemming from the initial criticism the painting received, the figure in Grande Odalisque is thought to be drawn with “two or three vertebrae too many.” Critics at the time believed the elongations to be errors on the part of Ingres, but recent studies show the elongations to have been deliberate distortions. Measurements taken on the proportions of real women showed that Ingres’s figure was drawn with a curvature of the spine and rotation of the pelvis impossible to replicate. It also showed the left arm of the odalisque is shorter than the right. The study concluded that the figure was longer by five instead of two or three vertebrae and that the excess affected the lengths of the pelvis and lower back instead of merely the lumbar region.

References:

http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/paintings-analysis/grande-odalisque.htm
http://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-arthistory2/chapter/grand-odalisque/
http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/une-odalisque
http://www.wikiart.org/en/jean-auguste-dominique-ingres/the-grande-odalisque-1814
http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/paintings-analysis/grande-odalisque.htm

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