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“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.

The painting was commissioned by Napoleon’s sister, 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.

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.

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