THE BIRTH OF VENUS
THE BIRTH OF VENUS, ALEXANDRE CABANEL, 1863, OIL ON CANVAS, MUSÉE D'ORSAY
Manet’s contemporary Alexandre Cabanel contextualizes just how shocking and “dirty” Olympia would have appeared to be in the Paris Salon. This “passive, provocative and (to the male imagination) sexually available woman is only a more blatant and vulgar cousin of Titian’s Venus of Urbino.”1 Here, Venus’s form is offered up completely to the male gaze and she sports a textbook definition of half-shut “bedroom eyes.” She is completely sexually available.
1. Quoted in Monica Bohm-Duchen, The Nude (Themes in Art Series), London: Scala, 1992, 42.