Lorettes and society
Class Prostitutes and the Law
Representations in Les Miserables
Realities of Authority in Paris
Brothels and Streetwalkers
The Privileged Class: Courtesans
Defining the courtesan
Courtesans in reality
In the 19th century many people
were painting what they saw as "everyday life". Manet came from
a more privileged class, yet he chose to portray the lower classes or
the less desirable. Like Victor
Hugo, Manet captured the real life people of Paris.
This was not always a popular thing to do as was made evident by the fact
that when Manet's painting, Olympia was hung, in 1863, viewers
had to be physically restrained so that they would not to ruin it. The
public was confused by such details as a black servant and a black cat
but were mainly outraged by the nude courtesan
who, with her pale skin almost becomes one with the bed. The fact that
this woman, a courtesan, is given a face, was cause for a lot of uproar.
It humanizes prostitution which was not, in a time where no one wanted
to be reminded of the shadier side of life, a very popular thing to do.
by Edouard Manet, 1863.(9.for source click
- Manet painted this
picture with strong brush strokes many people considered this a childish
and unskilled fashion of painting.
- Manet based the
composition of this painting on The Venus of Urbino, by Titan.
is the painting of a reclining nude woman , tended to by a maid while
a black cat (far right) gazes mysteriously out at the viewer.
- The maid is presenting
Olympia with a gift of flowers, presumably a gift from a lover.
This type of scene was not generally portrayed.
- The French practice
at the time suggested that women were to be modeled on historical, mythical
or biblical themes.
- Manet painted a
woman of his time but not the ideal woman, a real woman, a courtesan.
- The way in which
this is painted, with the startling contrast between the dark of the
background and the light of Olympia lying on her bed draws much
attention to the subject of the painting.
- Manet's model,
Victorine Meurent, is depicted as a woman who's body is a commodity.
- Although middle
and bourgeoisie gentlemen did frequent
courtesans they did not want to be confronted with one in an art gallery.
is a real woman, flaws and all who stares out from the canvas at us,
confronting us with an unwavering glance. This in itself was a cause
for outrage because this woman dares to stare out, meeting the eye.
It was scandalous for a woman in general, let alone a courtesan, to
be so brazen as to stare directly at anyone.
only adornment consists of shoes, a bracelet, a flower in her hair and
a string around her neck.
- She looks almost
bored at the prospect of another gift, suggesting that this is not a
first time occurrence or something to be overly excited about.
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