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Olympia (1865) - Édouard Manet

Related: erotic art - prostitution in art - realism - Venus - Manet - 1865

Olympia 1865 - Edouard Manet (Oil on canvas, 130.5 x 190 cm, Musee d'Orsay, Paris)

Manet's Olympia (painted in 1863, first exhibited in 1865) introduced realism into the visual arts. The painting did not depict a mythological goddess or an odalisque, but a a real woman (a high-class courtesan waiting for a client). Her nakedness is revealed in all its brutality by the harsh light. Manet showed a different aspect of realism from that envisaged by Courbet (which was essentially, social realism).

The classic work that most closely resembles Manet's in character is Francisco Goya's La Maja Desnuda (c. 1800). [Jan 2006]


Olympia is an oil on canvas painting by Édouard Manet. Painted in 1863, it measures 130.5 by 190 cm. The nation of France acquired the painting in 1890 with a public subscription organised by Claude Monet and is now in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Though Manet's The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe) sparked controversy in 1863, his Olympia stirred an even bigger uproar when it first exhibited at the 1865 Paris Salon. Conservatives condemned the work as "immoral" and "vulgar." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympia_%28painting%29 [Jan 2006]

Manet took respected works by Renaissance artists and updated them, a practice he also adopted in Olympia (1863), a nude portrayed in a style reminiscent of the early studio photographs, but which was based on Titian's Venus of Urbino (1538). The painting was seen as controversial partly because the nude is wearing some small items of clothing such as an orchid in her hair, a bracelet, a ribbon around her neck and mule slippers, she has a look of defiance as well. It also has a fully dressed servant next to her, the same effect of having a nude next to fully dressed people, as in Luncheon on the Grass. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edouard_Manet#Olympia [Oct 2005]

Manet's Olympia (1973) - Mel Ramos

    Manet's Olympia (1973) - Mel Ramos

    See entry on Mel Ramos

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