La Grande Odalisque 1814 | Oil Painting Reproduction
75 cm
42
cm
La Grande Odalisque 1814
Artist: Jean-Auguste-Dominique-Ingres
Size: 42 x 75 cm (16.5 x 29.5")
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Selected size: 42 x 75 cm (16.5 x 29.5")

La Grande Odalisque Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

 La Grande Odalisque is one of the most famous nude paintings. It is a masterpiece of exotic Romanticism.

What does La Grande Odalisque represent?

La Grande Odalisque depicts an “odalisque”. This is a French term originating from the Turkish “odalık”. It directly translates as “chambermaid” but refers in the Western tradition to a harem concubine.

In artistic depictions, these female figures are often presented fully nude in a reclining position. Nineteenth century French art particularly reveled in the eroticized and sexualized nature of Ottoman concubinage, with Dominique Ingres paintings being no exception.

Indeed, later Ingres portrait paintings also depicted “Odalisque” figures. This included L'Odalisque à l'esclave (“Odalisque with Slave”) painted in 1839. Numerous other European painters, from Jules Joseph Lefebvre to Henri Matisse, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Eugene Delacroix and Francisco Hayez all similarly tackled the theme.

In Ingres’ painting, the woman’s back is incredibly long. Indeed, she has three to five additional vertebrae in her spine. Scholars argue about her exact anatomy, but the curvature of the spine and rotation of the pelvis is impossible to replicate in real life. Her left arm is also shorter than the right.

This was a conscious artistic decision by Ingres. Art historians argue Ingres distorted the woman’s body to represent the sexual nature of a concubine. The elongation of her pelvis specifically draws the viewers’ attention to this area.

The woman’s direct gaze (perhaps looking at someone just entering the room) belies this purely mechanistic interpretation, however. Instead, it reveals a highly individualized and complex sense of personhood.

Why did Ingres paint Odalisque?

Ingres painted La Grande Odalisque at the request of Queen Caroline Murat of Naples. The sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, she commissioned the work in the style of previous “Venus” paintings.

Art historical inspirations included Giorgione’s Dresden Venus and Titian’s Venus of Urbino, both of which depict reclining nude figures in a highly classical manner.

Despite this, the pose of Ingres’ woman directly references the Portrait of Madame Récamier by Jacques-Louis David. In this portrait, the woman’s body turns away from the viewer whilst she gazes back, directly over her shoulder.

In La Grande Odalisque, the woman wears a ruby and pearl encrusted brooch in her hair, as well as a gold bracelet. These symbols of affluence are reinforced with the peacock fan and a bejeweled mirror lying face-down on the bed. The sumptuous damasks and satins also present an opulent, decadent scene.

The title of the portrait, the turban and the hookah pipe (just visible on the right-hand side of the composition) demonstrate the contemporary French fascination with Eastern societies.

Why was La Grande Odalisque controversial?

Contemporaries were shocked by La Grande Odalisque, not for the erotic subject matter, but for the break from Neo-Classical styles. On its initial display at the 1819 Paris Salon, critics derided Ingres as an artistic “rebel”.

In the portrait, Ingres takes inspiration from Mannerism, which promoted elongated and stylized forms over classical realism.

Ingres used the long, flowing lines of her body to convey romantic sensuality. The use of bright and even light tones down the realism of a body in space.

The woman’s small head as well as her long arms and legs directly reference Mannerist distortions. Indeed, one critic angrily remarked the woman had neither “bones nor muscle”.

The work currently hangs in the Louvre Museum, Paris.
 

Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique

Portrait paintings by Neoclassical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was a French neoclassical artist, best known for his portraits. Born in Paris, Ingres studied with Jacques Louis David, France’s most famous artist during the period of the French Revolution, and a devoted follower of the High Renaissance painter Raphael. Ingres was one of only five artists to be selected by Napoleon to paint full sized portraits of him and his family. Ingres went to work in Rome and Florence and was very pleased with the paintings that he completed whilst in Italy. Ingres’ Paris Exhibitions were highly praised and he became both famous and popular. Dominique Ingres is acknowledged by Picasso, Degas and Matisse as having great influence on their work.

The Grand Odalisque by Jean-Dominque Ingres was commissioned by the sister of Napolean and depicts a concubine looking over her shoulder.

Would you like to buy a reproduction painting portrait painting by Jean August Dominique Ingres?

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Your painting will be shipped rolled in strong plastic tubing, ready for stretching and/or framing locally. This is the conventional method of transporting hand-painted oil on canvas. Learn more about how your painting is shipped.

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Notes About Your Painting

Please note that replica oil paintings are finished with an additional 10cm (4") of extra canvas on all sides, allowing ample surplus canvas for stretching and framing.

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