The biennial,which then progressed into yearly Paris Salons were viewed as the most beneficialway for any artists to popularise themselves to the greater population. ÉdouardManet submitted pieces of art all through his career. After numerous attempts,in 1861 he was granted to have his painting ‘Spanish Singer’, which reflectsthe Parisian vogue for Spanish art and culture during the second Empire,displayed at the salon.1Édouard Manet’s expectations to carry on with entering his paintings to theSalon were dashed in 1863, in addition most entries that year were rejected. Astaunch of public outcry lead to Napoleon 3rd to request thedevelopment of a Salon des Refusés.
Manet displayed three works of art, one ofthem being ‘Le Déjeuner sur L’herbe.2Theviewers claimed to be shocked by the nude women, who stared deep into theviewers eyes, while two fully clothed men sat beside her enjoying their food.Even though critiques recognised that this scene was, to a certain degree, anextended version of Titian’s Concert Champêtre, they still criticised Manet’sway of painting.3In his time,Édouard Manet produced a number of noteworthy paintings, one of them being Olympiawhich he submitted to the Paris Salon in 1865. This grand painting met a lot ofhostile reactions from critiques as did from the viewers because it was seen asscandalous.
French journalist and politician Antonin Proust once said, ‘If thecanvas of the Olympia was not destroyed, it is only because of the precautionsthat were taken by the administration.’Once glancedover, one might not understand why Olympia received the reaction it did. Shelays with ease while her pale nude body is on display, a black ribbon tiedacross her throat and a flamboyant peachy pink flower tucked behind her ear.She shows no emotion yet the corners of her mouth are raised s if she where tosmile, while paying no attention to the black maid behind her, offering herflowers.
Personally, I thought that there was clearly something different tothis painting. Once reviewing the minor details, I was drawn to the mostobvious detail which was her naked body, why was she laid on a bed naked, herposture so poised with these subtle feminine accessories on her? Again, I wentfor maybe the obvious reason which led me to think it was sex. The unapologetic,confrontational gaze she stares into the viewers eyes, maybe she is a mistressor even a prostitute.
The idea that Manet painted a prostitute in thisglorified, goddess manner was enough for viewers of the paintings to beoutraged. But to paint a woman of such ill repute without a drape or clothcovering her, no artists dared to paint in such a way. This, alongside exposingthe prostitute to the public and in extent, worshiping her is a reason Manet’sOlympia had such realist attributes.