The early 19th century is noted for being devoid of eroticism, compared to the 18th century. This void is equally true for literature and art. It is generally ascribed to puritan neoclassicism but also a lesser need for what I call satirotica.
The following posts are dedicated to the sparse examples there are, the exceptions that prove the rule, so to speak. In previous posts, I’ve shown the Maja desnuda by Goya and Portrait of a Black Woman by Benoist. This post is dedicated to the The Great Odalisque by Ingres, the first in a series of paintings dedicated to the Orientalist trope of Turkish Baths, seraglio’s, tepidaria and harems; a whole pattern of male fantasies of sexual slavery that would ultimately disembogue in a fascination with — and sympathetic view of — prostitution in early 20th century art. See prostitution in art and literature.
As in the Venus of Urbino, Ingres’s odalisque meets our gaze. Different from The Venus of Urbino, she is a reclining figure looking back over her shoulder, as were the Venus Kallipygos and the Portrait of Madame Récamier before her.
A later work by Ingres where he is under the prurient Orientalist spell is The Turkish Bath (1860).
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