la grande odalisque ap art history
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).
Explanation of Other French Paintings
Ingres actually returned to Neo-Classicism after having rejected the lessons of his teacher, David, and after having laid the foundation for the emotive expressiveness of Romanticism, the new style of Gericault and the young Delacroix that Ingres would eventually defend against. Ingres’ early Romantic tendencies can be seen most famously in his painting, La Grande Odalisque of 1814.
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.
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. 
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.
An erotic painting that uses an oriental style to stay within the public eye. In the style of venus, but is clearly not.
La Grande Odalisque has been described by Baudelaire as a painter of “profound sensual delights.”
Ingres is said to have described him as “an apostle of ugliness”. When comparing their work, it is plain to see that Delacroix is not concerned here with details of musculature or intricate folds of drapery as Ingres was. He focuses more on the atmosphere within the room, produced by color, light and shadow.