the odalisque painting ingres
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. 
La Grande Odalisque was appropriated by the feminist art group Guerrilla Girls for their first color poster and most iconic image. The 1989 Metropolitan Museum poster gave Ingres’s odalisque a gorilla mask and posed the question “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?”. The poster used data from the group’s first “weenie count” and drew attention to the overwhelming number of female nudes counted in the Modern Art sections of The Met. The poster was rejected by the Public Art Fund in New York and was run in advertising space on New York City buses until the bus company cancelled the lease arguing that the image was “too suggestive and that the figure appeared to have more than a fan in her hand.”  
La Grande Odalisque is a more explicit nude than the restrained Valpincon Bather, so Ingres transposes it to an orientalist setting, and significantly elongates the figure’s torso, in order to demonstrate that this is a fantasy woman in a fantasy picture, not a real nude woman. (Note: Research shows that the figure was drawn with curvature of the spine, a distorted pelvis, five extra lumbar vertebrae, and one arm – the left – shorter than the other. This was done not because Ingres was ignorant of anatomy, but purely for stylistic effect.) In 1819, however, the year that the Odalisque was submitted to the Paris Salon, neither the French Academy nor the critics understood Ingres’s style. As a result they criticized him for distorting anatomical reality.
Death of Marat (1793) by Jacques-Louis David.
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.
Ingres actually returned to Neoclassicism after having first rejected the lessons of his teacher David. He could even be said to have laid the foundation for the emotive expressiveness of Romanticism (the new style of Gericault and the young Delacroix that Ingres would later hold the line against). Ingres’s early Romantic tendencies can be seen most famously in his painting La Grande Odalisque of 1814.
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Portrait of Madame Récamier
Ingres draws inspiration from a work done by his former teacher, Jacques-Louis David. The similarities between David’s Portrait of Madame Récamier and Ingres’ La Grande Odalisque can be seen when comparing the poses of the two figures. The odalisque reclines, looking back over her shoulder just as Madame Récamier does.