Luncheon On The Grass

432 Words2 Pages
Édouard Manet, a French painter from the nineteenth century, was known for creating what were considered scandalous and controversial paintings depicting nude women. Two of his more well-known paintings following this theme are Le Déjeuner sur l 'herbe, or Luncheon on the Grass, and Olympia. In Luncheon on the Grass, Manet illustrates what would otherwise be a pleasant picnic if not for the included nudity. The scene depicts two fully clothed men accompanying two women. One woman is scantily clad, set away from the forefront of the scene, while the other is what could be considered the focus of the image, completely nude with only her arm and leg covering her private areas. However, she looks out at the viewer with an almost self-possessed aura…show more content…
In this painting, Olympia is lying naked on a bed as a dark-skinned, fully clothed servant approaches with an armful of flowers. Here, the woman once again seems very confident in her nudity, posing in what could be construed as a casual manner, her entire upper body completely uncovered. Her hand discretely covers her lower private area, but in way that does not seem purposeful. Like the woman at the picnic, Olympia stares out at the viewer with a gaze that could be described as challenging, or provocative. Other small details further give the impression of a painting of a prostitute, from the orchid in hair to the jewelry and fine linen surrounding her. Furthermore, the name “Olympia” was one used in connection with prostitutes in nineteenth century Paris. Many more details have been attributed to this theme of a depiction of prostitution, and it was these depraved and improper details that made this painting a condemnation and a source of outcry, inciting even more criticism than Luncheon on the Grass.
Manet’s paintings were certainly shocking for his time. Shock value usually stems from what could be considered controversial or contentious, which this choice of subject matter most certainly was—especially for this time period and locale. Even today, these paintings could not be considered completely of the norm: they are still somewhat unsettling, almost
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