WORD OF THE DAY
What Is The Difference Between “Furlough” vs. “Layoff”?
The word “odalisque” is French in form and originates from the Turkish odalık, meaning “chambermaid”, from oda, “chamber” or “room”. It can also be transliterated odahlic, odalisk, and odaliq.
An odalisque (Turkish: odalık / اوطهلق ) was a chambermaid or a female attendant in a Turkish seraglio, particularly the court ladies in the household of the Ottoman sultan.
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. 
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. 
© 2005 Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier
De Vergnette François
Patricia Condon, “Les Dessins Historiques achevés de J.A.D. Ingres” (part two), Bulletin du Musée Ingres, Amis du Musée Ingres (Montauban, France, 1996), no. 69, pp. 3-38, pp. 15, 36
Patricia Condon, “Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: The Politics of Friendship”, Seeing and Beyond: Essays on Eighteenth- to Twenty-First Century Art. , ed. Deborah J. Johnson, Peter Lang (New York NY and Washington DC, 2005), pp. 43-61, p. 47; repr. in b/w as fig. 1, p. 60