Edouard Manet's Rebellious Painting: Olympia

When tired of dreaming, Olympia awakens.

Olympia painting which was on display for the first time in Musée d'Orsay in 1865, aroused great repercussions in the audience. The first impression on the spectators was perfect, everyone was talking about the painting. The painting depicted a naked woman lying on the bed and a black man next to her. The painting was inspired by Titian's painting, Venus of Urbino. On the other hand, the female figure in the Venus of Urbino had so many differences from the Olympia painting, which expresses a rebellious woman figure. The Venus of Urbino was a female symbol staring at the audience seductively. But although she was dominant, she was actually much more reserved than Olympia. Unlike Olympia, Titian's Venus of Urbino had a dog curled up at Venus's foot in the corner of the bed, appearing to be sleeping. On the other hand, Olympia succeeded in giving a new dimension to the female phenomenon in traditional works by replacing this docile dog with a black, rebellious cat.

The naked female model in the painting was Victorine Meurent who worked with Manet in 1862. Victorine was Manet's favorite model and the subject of many of his paintings. Manet clearly showed Victorine's facial features and her red hair in his Olympia works. Her hair was dyed dark brown in his last painting, but although her different hair, it was clear that this model was Victorine Maurent. At the same time, Victorine Maurent was also taking part in Manet's one famous painting, Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe.

Manet met Maurent in a studio belonging to Thomas Couture, who was Manet's teacher, in 1862. Meurent modeled for Manet from 1862 to 1873, she also modeled for Edgar Degas and Alfred Stevens. Meurent was a talented woman; she played violin and guitar enough to teach and sang in cafes. Due to her interest in painting, she started to take lessons first, then, she entered Fine Arts Academy in 1879 and received a classical education. She wasn't like innovation in paintings. Her paintings were exhibited at the Salon 6 times between 1876-1904, estimated to have been made in around 1880.

There was only one painting that succeeded to survive to this day in her paintings, Le Jour des Rameaux (Palm Sunday), which was found to be her in 2004

There were many theories and ideas about Olympia's identity and one of Manet's best friends, Zacharie Atruc poetry excerpt was also take part in this idea.

When tired of dreaming, Olympia awakens / Spring enters on the arms of the mild black messenger / She is the slave who, like the amorous night / Comes to adorn with flowers the day beautiful to behold / The august young woman is whom ardor is ever wakeful. (Zacharie Astruc, Olympia)

Indisputably, Olympia is considered a masterpiece today and one of the most important details that include this work in the Realism movement is that the nude woman that Manet completed by taking Victorine Laurent as a model is not 'perfect' but 'natural'. This figure, which seems that almost natural female body contrary to the works of the period, was also the representation of eroticism.