Archive for the ‘Critics’ Category

Olympia unfavorably compared to Titian’s Venus

In Courtesan & Prostitute, Critics, Olympia's Degradation on May 11, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Amedee Cantaloube writes in Le Grand Journal, June 22nd, 1865:

“This Olympia is a sort of female gorilla, a grotesque in India rubber outlined in black, apes on a bed, in a state of complete nudity, the horizontal attitude of Titian’s Venus: the right arm rests on the body in the same fashion, except for the hand, which is flexed in a sort of shameless contraction.”

Titian, Venus of Urbino, Oil on Canvas, Uffizi, Florence, 1538.


Olympia, the Venus of Paris, 1863…


Honore Daumier looks at bourgeois looking at Olympia

In Caricatures, Critics, Paris Salon on May 11, 2010 at 8:41 pm
Honore Daumier’s Before The Painting, June 19, 1865

In Le Charivari, June 19, 1865.

“Why the devil is that big red woman in chemise called Olympia?”

“Perhaps it’s the name of the cat.”

Horror of the Morgue!

In Critics, Olympia's Degradation, The Black Cat on May 11, 2010 at 4:27 pm

V. de Jonkevitz in Salon de 1865, May 21st, 1865:

The expression on the face is that of a premature and vicious creature ; the body, the colour of which reminds one of meat that has hung for too long, is reminiscent of the horror of the Morgue. A hideous negress dressed in pink is holding on her side the bouquet of a doubtful allegory, whilst a black cat arching his back comes and prints the unequivocal trace of the place in which he treaded with his paws on the sheet.

Olympia called the Hottentot Venus & morgue-like again…

In Courtesan & Prostitute, Critics, Olympia's Degradation, The Black Cat on May 11, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Caricature of Saartjie Baartman, called the "Hottentot Venus"

Critic Geronte writes, May 21st, 1865:

That Hottentot Venus with a black cat, exposed completely naked on her bed like a corpse on the counters of the morgue, this Olympia from the rue Mouffetard [a notorious haunt of prostitution at the time], dead of yellow fever and already arrived at an advanced state of decomposition.

Olympia a skeleton?

In Critics, Olympia's Degradation on May 11, 2010 at 4:15 pm

A. J. Lorentz sees Olympia as, May 22nd, 1865:

“A skeleton dressed in tight-fitting tunic of plaster.”

Olympia again decried as putrified and morgue-like

In Critics, Olympia's Degradation on May 11, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Flaubert’s friend Paul de Saint-Victor describes, May 23rd, 1865:

“the crowd thronging in front of the putrefied Olympia as if it were at the morgue.”

Critic Gautier deems Olympia repugnant

In Critics, Olympia's Degradation, The Black Cat on May 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Theophile Gautier, by Nadar.

Critic and poet Theophile Gautier writes, May 23rd, 1865:

With some repugnance I come to the peculiar paintings by Manet. It is awkward to discuss them, but they cannot be passed by in silence. . . . Many people think it is enough to pass them by and laugh, but that is a mistake. Manet is not without importance; he has a school, he has admirers, even fanatic followers; his influence extends further than is generally realized. M. Manet has the honor of being a danger. But now the danger is passed.

Olympia is inexplicable from any point of view even taken for what she is, a puny model stretched out on a sheet. The color of the flesh is dirty, the modeling non-existent. The shadows are indicated by more or less large smears of blacking.  What’s to be said of the negress who brings a bouquet of flowers in a paper, or the black cat that leaves its muddy footprints on the bed? We would still excuse the ugliness were there only some truth in it, some careful study, heightened by some splendid effect of color. Even the least pretty woman has bones, muscles, skin and some sort of color. Here there is nothing, we are sorry to say, but the desire to attract…

Dirty, dirty, dirty

In Critics, Olympia's Degradation on May 11, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Various comments on Olympia appearing to be “dirty,” May 1865:

  • Unwashed!
  • Cerne de noir (Dark, black circles under eyes)!
  • Ce corps est sale (The body is dirty)!
  • Avec du charbon tout autour (Full of coal, filthy as coal)!
  • The tone of its flesh is dirty, the modeling nonexistent.  Shadows are indicated by stripes of blacking of various widths.

The Critic “Ego” speaks – I despise Olympia

In Courtesan & Prostitute, Critics, Olympia's Degradation on May 11, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Manet, Olympia, 1863.

In Le Monde Illustre, May 13th, 1865.

The “august jeune fille” is a courtesan, with dirty hands and wrinkled feet; she is lying down, wearing one Turkish slipper and a red cockade in her hair; her body has the livid tint of a cadaver displayed in the morgue; her outlines are drawn in charcoal and her greenish, bloodshot eyes appear to be provking the public, protected all the while by a hideous Negress.

All is drawn with coal all around and soft soap in the middle.

No, never has anything so… strange been hung on the walls of an art exhibition.

Olympia is compared to a morgue

In Critics, Olympia's Degradation on May 11, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Critic Victor de Jankovitz writes, June 4th, 1865

The author represents for us under the name of Olympia a young girl lying on a bed, having as her only garment a knot of ribbon in her hair, and her hand for fig leaf.  The expression of her face is that of being prematurely aged and vicious; her body, of a putrefying colour, recalls the horror of the morgue.