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Olympia, 1863 by Edouard Manet (1832-1883, France) | Art Reproduction | ArtsDot.com

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Olympia

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Though Manet's Le déjeuner sur l'herbe sparked controversy in 1863, his Olympia (1863) stirred an even bigger uproar when it was first exhibited at the 1865 Paris Salon. What shocked contemporary audiences was not Olympia's nudity, nor even the presence of her fully clothed maid, but her confrontational gaze and a number of details identifying her as a demi-mondaine or courtesan. These include the orchid in her hair, her bracelet, pearl earrings and the oriental shawl on which she lies. The black ribbon around her neck, in stark contrast with her pale flesh, and her cast-off slipper underline the voluptuous atmosphere. Olympia's hand firmly protects hers sex, as if to emphasize her independence and sexual dominance over men. Manet placed a black cat, which symbolized prostitution. Unlike other artists, Manet did not depict a goddess or an odalisque but a high-class prostitute waiting for a client. The painting deviates from the academic canon in its style, characterized by broad, quick brushstrokes, studio lighting that eliminates mid-tones, large color surfaces and shallow depth. It is now in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
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Edouard Manet

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