Monday, June 16, 2014

Odalisque and Slave (1839)

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: Odalisque and Slave

This is Ingres' most famous scene. It is a near replica of the painting commissioned by Charles Marcotte d'Argenteuil in 1839, currently in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge. This masterful drawing summarizes the exotic tales of Arabia that had captured the imagination of early-nineteenth-century Paris. While the artist pictured a suggestively exposed odalisque, a musician playing a tambour, and a eunuch standing guard, a fourth and possibly fifth figure are implied. A spectator sits upon the divan, perhaps alongside a sultan who has just finished smoking his hookah.

While Ingres intended the drawing to be an independent work, the painstaking technique evident in such details as the mosaics in the background or the long silky tresses of the reclining nude suggest that it may have served as a model for an engraving.

Ingres, perhaps taking advantage of the popularity of this work, did a slightly revised version in 1842 (which we will see here eventually).

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