This eclectic mix of styles, combining classical form with Romantic themes, prompted harsh criticism when it was first shown in 1814. Critics viewed Ingres as a rebel against the contemporary style of form and content. When the painting was first shown in the Salon of 1819, one critic remarked that the work had “neither bones nor muscle, neither blood, nor life, nor relief, indeed nothing that constitutes imitation”. This echoed the general view that Ingres had disregarded anatomical realism. Ingres instead favoured long lines to convey curvature and sensuality, as well as abundant, even light to tone down the volume. Ingres continued to be criticised for his work until the mid-1820s.
[Musée du Louvre, Paris - Oil on canvas, 88.9 x 162.56 cm]
my only beef is that odalisques were usually women of color but i love that ingres loved backs so much that he painted them extra long. it’s been proven that this woman in particular, if she was real, would have 2 or 3 more vertebrae than a normal human being and wouldn’t be capable of standing up, like her back wouldn’t be able to support it. anyway i hope to see this work of art in person and cry right then and there.
Emil Nolde citronlunden 1933