who originally commissioned the la grande odalisque
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. 
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.
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.
Ingres always enjoyed recycling themes and devices from earlier periods. Here, the overall theme is basically a revision of the ‘reclining venus’ – as seen in The Sleeping Venus (1518, Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden) by Giorgione (1477-1510), and The Venus of Urbino (1538, Uffizi, Florence) by Titian. The idea of using a reclining woman who looks back over her shoulder may have come from Jacques-Louis David’s society portrait of Madame Recamier (1800, Louvre). Meanwhile the anatomical distortions are (as in the Valpincon picture) taken from the Mannerism era – see, for instance, the famous Madonna of the Long Neck (1535, Uffizi, Florence) by Parmigianino (1503-40).
“The beautiful is always bizarre.”
Next to the portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte – Napoleon I on his Imperial Throne Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres‘ Grande Odalisque is widely considered to be the artist’s best-recognized work. The masterpiece was created on commission by the Neapolitan Royal Family. Ingres initially traveled to Naples in early 1814 to paint Queen Caroline Murat – Napoleon’s sister, and the Murat family ordered additional portraits as well as three smaller scaled works: The Betrothal of Raphael, La Grande Odalisque, and Paolo and Francesca.
Ingres transposed the theme of the mythological nude, whose long tradition went back to the Renaissance, to an imaginary Orient. This work, his most famous nude, was commissioned by Caroline Murat, Napoleon’s sister and the queen of Naples. Here, Ingres painted a nude with long, sinuous lines bearing little resemblance to anatomical reality, but rendered the details and texture of the fabrics with sharp precision. This work drew fierce criticism when it was displayed at the Salon of 1819.
Ingres used tight brushwork to achieve his near photographic realism. He captured the likeness of the texture of the model’s skin, the silk and the velvet.
Both women are propped up against their left arms while their right arms lie across their bodies. The position of their feet is slightly different; the odalisque’s left foot is further away from her right than in Madame Récamier. The major difference comes when Ingres adds his own personal touch; anatomical distortions. David portrays a female form truer to nature.