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Video transcript

[Music] we're at the Musee du Louvre and we're looking at Angela's grand or lease what's interesting is that this painting was originally commissioned on was hired to paint it by the sister of Napoleon who at that time was married to the King of Naples what's sort of also interesting is that by the time Angra finished the painting and delivered it well they were gone Napoleon had been deposed and they were no longer ruling Naples but this did get shown in the salon of 1819 nevertheless and caused a real scandal for a number of reasons first of all it's a female nude and it's not Venus it's a notably it's gonna totally schism ininin arum you know of course I had never been in a harem and so this is very much a Western idea of what a harem would be okay so I think that's really important because historically this is completely inaccurate but it is very much a 19th century French construction of what they imagined that sort of luxury lady sensuous and distant experience was it's a real French fantasy it's a real French fantasy France of course was a colonial power in that part of the world and some art historians have written that in some ways these sorts of paintings were a kind of justification for France in that part of the world and for France imagining itself as superior to that culture and therefore having a kind of moral right to civilize so it is very important it's thinking but at the same time as we're saying that we have to imagine the four regions in 1819 taking pleasure in looking at this quite a bit of pleasure and we see the same pleasure in the viewers in the Louvre right now it is this voluptuous and very sensuous expression of the human body one that is heightened because although Angra comes out of the neoclassical tradition was a student of dahveed's he is also this important Bridge to Romanticism but in this particular rendering angra has taken these fidelity to Anatomy as secondary and what's most important to him is the sensuality of the figure for instance he's extended the back one might even argue there are extra vertebrae he has placed her left leg in a sort of impossible position if one imagines where that leg would connect with the hip it doesn't quite work in relationship to the other hip and so there's a kind of languid miss that he's able to achieve that would be impossible with the kind of anatomical accuracy and there is a kind of tension I think between sensuality and a kind of distance that anklets between us and the figure I think that's a really important point we do see her back but she turns back towards us but that look is an icy aloof and distant look it's hardly inviting no it is hardly funny and there's the direct eye contact and yet there's distance there's always that conflict in this page I think that's exactly right the other thing is that the sensuality of the Interior in some ways really competes at least for me with the nude female figure that velvet of the cushion that she's on I can feel those things you can almost hear her skin against this fabric yes it's so interesting if you look at the composition the frame is actually quite long like her body is but she almost doesn't fit that is to say she literally comes close to touching all four edges of this canvas so we see in this odalisque an image that is very much where we would consider romanticism and interest in the exotic sensuality and the kind of sensuality although he seems to be the standard bearer for the academic tradition he doesn't really uphold that 100% was interesting because he comes out of the neoclassical and he's got that precision and that sense of the morality of painting but he just inline it but then he is a sensualist and his painting in fact and that's something that absent flows but is with him for his entire career [Music]