The he was granted to have his painting ‘Spanish

The biennial,
which then progressed into yearly Paris Salons were viewed as the most beneficial
way for any artists to popularise themselves to the greater population. Édouard
Manet submitted pieces of art all through his career. After numerous attempts,
in 1861 he was granted to have his painting ‘Spanish Singer’, which reflects
the Parisian vogue for Spanish art and culture during the second Empire,
displayed at the salon.1
Édouard Manet’s expectations to carry on with entering his paintings to the
Salon were dashed in 1863, in addition most entries that year were rejected. A
staunch of public outcry lead to Napoleon 3rd to request the
development of a Salon des Refusés. Manet displayed three works of art, one of
them being ‘Le Déjeuner sur L’herbe.2The
viewers claimed to be shocked by the nude women, who stared deep into the
viewers eyes, while two fully clothed men sat beside her enjoying their food.
Even though critiques recognised that this scene was, to a certain degree, an
extended version of Titian’s Concert Champêtre, they still criticised Manet’s
way of painting.3

In his time,
Édouard Manet produced a number of noteworthy paintings, one of them being Olympia
which he submitted to the Paris Salon in 1865. This grand painting met a lot of
hostile reactions from critiques as did from the viewers because it was seen as
scandalous. French journalist and politician Antonin Proust once said, ‘If the
canvas of the Olympia was not destroyed, it is only because of the precautions
that were taken by the administration.’

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Once glanced
over, one might not understand why Olympia received the reaction it did. She
lays with ease while her pale nude body is on display, a black ribbon tied
across 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 to
smile, while paying no attention to the black maid behind her, offering her
flowers. Personally, I thought that there was clearly something different to
this painting. Once reviewing the minor details, I was drawn to the most
obvious detail which was her naked body, why was she laid on a bed naked, her
posture so poised with these subtle feminine accessories on her? Again, I went
for 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 mistress
or even a prostitute. The idea that Manet painted a prostitute in this
glorified, goddess manner was enough for viewers of the paintings to be
outraged. But to paint a woman of such ill repute without a drape or cloth
covering her, no artists dared to paint in such a way. This, alongside exposing
the prostitute to the public and in extent, worshiping her is a reason Manet’s
Olympia had such realist attributes.


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