how does jean-auguste-dominique ingres portray the body of the woman in grande 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.
Grande Odalisque, also known as Une Odalisque or La Grande Odalisque, is an oil painting of 1814 by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres depicting an odalisque, or concubine. Ingres’ contemporaries considered the work to signify Ingres’ break from Neoclassicism, indicating a shift toward exotic Romanticism.
Perfection in describing the details of fabrics, jewels and objects surrounding the woman compensates for flaws in anatomy, criticized at the 1911 Salon, but which make this painting very sensual.
The Grande Odalisque by Ingres
Department of Paintings: French painting
Caroline Murat (1782-1839), Napoleon’s sister and the queen of Naples, commissioned this painting in 1813. It was probably a matching piece to another nude, La Dormeuse de Naples, destroyed in 1815. La Grande Odalisque was painted in Rome, where Ingres had arrived in 1806 to complete a fellowship at the Académie de France. The artist remained in Italy until 1824 because his art was unpopular in Paris. The works he exhibited at the Salon of 1806 (Caroline Rivière and Madame Rivière, Louvre), and the paintings he sent from Rome (The Valpinçon Bather, and Oedipus and the Sphinx, Louvre) were criticized. The exhibition of La Grande Odalisque at the Salon of 1819 confirmed that the critics didn’t understand Ingres’s style. They admonished him for disregarding anatomical reality, which set him apart from his teacher, Jacques Louis David (1748-1825).
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
The foreground remains completely unlit, bringing attention to the long and sensuous body of the odalisque. It seems a spotlight has been cast directed on her body, specifically lighting and drawing attention to the area he elongates – her back and pelvis area, and her arm.
In La Grande Odalisque, the concubine is lying on a divan in a suggestive pose with her face turned towards us. Her arm guides our eye to the luxurious silk drapes, while her right foot and left elbow highlight the sumptuous velvet cushions. The cold aquamarine of the silk drape with its decoration of red flowers intensifies the warmth of the her flesh tones. (Note: For more about the pigments used by Ingres, see: 19th-Century Colour Palette.)
La Grande Odalisque – the word “odalisque” stems from the Turkish term for ‘harem concubine’ – was commissioned by Caroline Murat, Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister and wife of Marshal Joachim Murat, King of Naples. It may have been a matching piece for another nude, La Dormeuse de Naples (now lost). In any event, due to the collapse of the regime, Ingres received no payment for the work. It is Ingres’ second major female nude, after the Valpincon Bather (1808). Like its sister, it represents the idea of femininity – the unchanging and eternal ‘feminine ideal’ – rather than a real live woman. But unlike the cool, muted neoclassicism of the Valpincon canvas, La Grande Odalisque is rich in oriental colour and opulence. This does not demonstrate – as some critics have suggested – a shift away from neoclassicism towards romanticism. It merely indicates a readiness on the part of Ingres to embrace the warmer ambience of Venetian painting, when the situation demanded it. For more about the artistic use of colour in Venice, see: Titian and Venetian Colour Painting (1500-76).