Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“Grande Odalisque” by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres - The Grand Odalisque - WGA11841

Grande Odalisque by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

“Grande Odalisque” by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres depicts an odalisque. An odalisque was a chambermaid or attendant in the sequestered living quarters used by wives, court ladies and concubines in an Ottoman household of the Ottoman sultan.

Grande Odalisque attracted extensive criticism when it was first exhibited. It became renowned for the elongated proportions and departure from the restrictions of anatomical realism. This work signified Ingres’ break from Neoclassicism and shifted towards exotic Romanticism. Ingres favoured long lines to convey curvature and sensuality and the very skilful use of light and shadow to sculpture proportions.

Napoleon’s sister commissioned the painting, and Ingres drew upon famous Renaissance masterpieces and contemporary reclining portraits for inspiration. Ingres portrays the Odalisque in a pose viewed from the back with a small head, elongated limbs, and colour scheme which all reveal influences from Mannerists such as Parmigianino who was famous for anatomical distortion.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Ingres was a French Neoclassical painter who thought of himself as a painter of history and who today is highly regarded for his many portraits. Critics often found his style bizarre and archaic, his expressive distortions of form and space make him an important precursor of modern art,  and his work influenced Picasso and Matisse and other modernists.

Explore the Masterpieces of the Louvre

The Grand Odalisque

  • Title:                The Grand Odalisque
  • French:            La grande odalisque or Une Odalisque
  • Artist:              Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
  • Created:          1814
  • Media:             Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:   Height: 91 cm (35.8 in). Width: 162 cm (63.8 in).
  • Museum:         The Louvre

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

  • Artist:               Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
  • Born:                1780 – Montauban, Languedoc, France
  • Died:                 1867 (aged 86) – Paris, France
  • Movement:      Neoclassicism


Quotes by Ingres


Is there anyone among the great men who have not imitated? Nothing is made with nothing.


Make copies, young man, many copies. You can only become a good artist by copying the masters.


What do these so-called artists mean when they preach the discovery of the’new’?
Is there anything new? Everything has been done,
everything has been discovered.


You have to observe flowers in order to find the right tones for the folds of clothes.


It takes 25 years to learn to draw, one hour to learn to paint.


“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”
– Leonardo da Vinci


Photo Credit 1)Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons