Ren. through 1855
Compare & Contrast
Titian made his Venus of Urbino in Italy 1538 during the Venetian Renaissance. Titian has domesticated Venus by moving her to an indoor setting, engaging her with the viewer, and making her sensuality explicit. Titian’s composition is and use of color is a common indicator of his Venetian Renaissance style. The frankness of Venus's expression is often noted; she stares straight at the viewer, unconcerned with her nudity, making it clear she is ready to please. In her right hand she holds a posy of roses whilst her left covers her groin, provocatively placed in the center of the composition. In the near background is a dog, often a symbol of either fidelity or sexual profligacy; that the animal is asleep hints that the woman portrayed is unfaithful. Manet’s Olympia was done in France, 1863, during the Realism period. Olympia’s title alludes to a socially ambitious prostitute of the same name in a novel and play by Alexander Dumas the younger. At first Manet seems to pay homage to Titian’s subject matter and composition. However, Manet made his modern counterpart the antithesis of Titian’s. Titian’s female is curvaceous and softly rounded, Manet’s is angular and flattened; Titian’s Colors are warm and rich (Venetian Ren style), Manet’s are cold and harsh, like a photograph; Titian’s Venus looks coyly at the (male) spectator, Manet’s Olympia appears indifferent. The relationship with Olympia is underscored by the reaction of her cat, which—unlike the sleeping dog in Titian—arches its back at us. Finally, instead of looking up at the viewer, Olympia gazes down at us, indicating that she is in the position of power and we are subordinate, just as the black servant brings her bouquet. As the figure covers herself waiting for payment her posture gives a sense of Realism. In recreating Titian’s Venus, Manet overturns the entire tradition of the accommodating female nude.
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