la grande odalisque salon audience
For more about the impact of Ingres’ art on twentieth century artists, see: Classical Revival in modern art (1900-30).
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.
Grande Odalisque attracted wide criticism when it was first shown. It is renowned for the elongated proportions and lack of anatomical realism. The work is owned by the Louvre Museum, Paris which purchased the work in 1899.
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.
While all of these clues naturally indicate an original work produced by Ingres probably in the 1830’s from tracing a work connected to the Triqueti version , and while the quality of the work is worthy of Ingres, the one essential element which in our opinion allows us to definitely conclude that this is indeed an acknowledged work is the manner in which the tracing of the lines in some places is enhanced with a blue color effect which reflects that of the fabric. This method is described in Ingres’ writings on art in the following sentence : “In a contour shadow, the shade must not be placed next to the line, it must be placed on the line.”
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The curators at the Louvre Museum in Paris believe that the Grande Odalisque “was probably a matching piece to another nude, La Dormeuse de Naples, destroyed in 1815.” Due largely to historical events that influenced the social and financial standing of the royal family Ingres never received payment for the Odalisque or any of the other paintings he completed with the exception of The Betrothal of Raphael.
“The beautiful is always bizarre.”
This woman lying on a divan is offering herself because she is nude and turns her face towards us. The painting’s title, which means “harem woman,” and the accessories around her conjure up the sensuous Orient. But the woman is also discreet because she shows only her back and part of one breast. The nude was a major theme in Western art, but since the Renaissance figures portrayed in that way had been drawn from mythology; here Ingres transposed the theme to a distant land. The subject of the odalisque fascinated Boucher in the eighteenth century and was later chosen as a theme by Théodore Chassériau (1819-1856), one of Ingres’s pupils. Throughout his career, many of Ingres’s works feature Orientalist themes, such as The Turkish Bath (Louvre), which he painted towards the end of his life. The female nude, historical scenes, and the portrait were Ingres’s favorite genres.
La Grande Odalisque,