grande odalisque by ingres 1814

Grande odalisque by ingres 1814
The painting includes several typical devices used by Ingres. Notice, for example, the lack of illusionary depth in the picture which focuses attention on the figure. She herself is, as usual, created with long, sinuous lines, while her skin is bathed in a diffused soft light, with none of the exaggerated chiaroscuro championed by Caravaggio (1573-1610) and his supporters. And as usual, the artist demonstrates his exceptional skill in rendering the different fabrics and surfaces, as well as the fine details of the turban, fan and curtains.
• Portrait of Madame Moitessier (1856) by J.A.D. Ingres.

Grande odalisque by ingres 1814
Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker provide a description, historical perspective, and analysis of Ingres’s La Grande Odalisque.
Instead, Ingres has created a cool aloof eroticism accentuated by its exotic context. The peacock fan, the turban, the enormous pearls, the hookah (a pipe for hashish or perhaps opium), and of course, the title of the painting, all refer us to the French conception of the Orient. Careful—the word “Orient” does not refer here to the Far East so much as the Near East or even North Africa.

Grande odalisque by ingres 1814
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.
Another interpretation of this painting suggests that since the duty of some concubines was merely to satisfy the carnal pleasures of the sultan, this elongation of her pelvic area may have been a symbolic distortion by Ingres. While this may represent sensuous feminine beauty, her gaze, on the other hand, has been said to “[reflect] a complex psychological make-up” or “[betray] no feeling”. In addition, the distance between her gaze and her pelvic region may be a physical representation of the depth of thought and complex emotions of a woman’s thoughts and feelings. [6]

Grande odalisque by ingres 1814
Ingres drew inspiration from some great paintings of the past such as the Venus of Urbino painted by Titian in 1538.
More than an inspiration it is a clear reference, and actually, it seems that Ingres wants to describe the side that is not visible in Titian’s painting.
However, in the Grande Odalisque there’s another reference to a masterpiece of the past. It’s the turban which is very similar to that in Raphael’s “Fornarina” ( “Portrait of a Young Woman”) (1518-1519). The pendant decorated with pearls which enhances it seems to be very similar to that, too.
THE GRANDE ODALISQUE BY INGRES: MEANING AND DESCRIPTION OF THE PAINTING

Grande odalisque by ingres 1814
This eclectic mix of styles, combining classical form with Romantic themes, prompted harsh criticism when it was first shown in 1814. Ingres’ contemporaries believed it marked Ingres’ break from Neoclassicism, indicating a shift toward exotic Romanticism. Ingres’ critics viewed him as a rebel against the contemporary style of form and content. When the painting was first shown in the Salon of 1819, a critic remarked that the work had “neither bones nor muscle, neither blood, nor life, nor relief, indeed nothing that constitutes imitation”. This echoed the general view that Ingres had disregarded anatomical realism. Ingres instead favored long lines to convey curvature and sensuality, as well as abundant even light to tone down the volume. Ingres continued to be attacked for his work until the mid-1820s.
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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grande_Odalisque
http://www.theartpostblog.com/en/grande-odalisque-ingres/
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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