The Birth of Olympia

With Olympia, Manet reworked the traditional theme of the female nude, using a strong, uncompromising technique. Both the subject matter and its depiction explain the scandal caused by this painting at the 1865 Salon. Even though Manet quoted numerous formal and iconographic references, such as Titian’s Venus of Urbino, Goya’s Maja desnuda, and the theme of the odalisque with her black slave, already handled by Ingres among others, the picture portrays the cold and prosaic reality of a truly contemporary subject. Venus has become a prostitute, challenging the viewer with her calculating look. This profanation of the idealized nude, the very foundation of academic tradition, provoked a violent reaction. Critics attacked the “yellow-bellied odalisque” whose modernity was nevertheless defended by a small group of Manet’s contemporaries with Zola at their head.

Text from Musée d’Orsay

Titian Venus of Urbino

Venus of Urbino. Titian. 1538

maja desnuda Goya

La Maja Desnuda. Francisco Goya. 1797-1800

Odalisque with slave by Ingres 1842

Odalisque with Slave. Ingres. 1842.

Olympia. Edouard Manet. 1863.

Olympia. Edouard Manet. 1863.


chris-marker-Untitled202 passenger series

chris marker passenger serieschris-marker-Untitled200 passenger series chris-marker-Untitled201 Passenger series

Passengers: A Subway Quartet. Chris Marker. 2008-2010.

In this series of photographs Chris Marker captures the passengers of Paris Metro at their most banal, illuminating the beauty and poetry of our everyday lives. In this sub-series, A Subway Quartet, Marker insets a famous classical painting which mirrors the expression and/or pose of his character.


“Le Violon d’Ingres,” Man Ray. 1924.

“Le Violon d’Ingres,” Man Ray. 1924.