This paper intends to discuss the similarities and differences of two different styles of pieces. The first one is Jean-Auguste Dominiques Ingres’s, Grand Odalisque, and the second piece is, Henri Matisse’s, The Woman with a Hat.
The discussion will show the emergence of exotic cultures’ influences, similarities and course the painters’ similarities on different eras of time. Even though, there are six to seven decades in between these artists’ working eras, their styles of redirecting the art education towards new limits, are familiar.
Both artists’ pieces are influenced by the near East exoticism; to be more specific, Matisse’s, The Woman with a Hat, was painted in south France, when at the time, traveling between continents started to become a more efficient possibility, resulting in increased numbers of different cultures emerging from human trade and ending up in south France.
This was enough cause for Matisse to get influenced and experiment with the wild colors and exotic appeal of the idea of the East even he never left Europe to see the North Africa nor its wide palette of cultural connections made available on his time.
On the other hand, Ingres Grand Odalisque’s cause of birth was more politically involved under Napoleon’s leadership. With the help of the new technologies helping human kind to travel through oceans more efficiently, through the early stages of industrialism, and of course Napoleon’s unstoppable urge to walk towards the East, brought in a forbidden curiosity to the neoclassical art world’s newly trained artists to take a step beyond from what was thought to them.
Napoleon’s sister, Queen Caroline Murat, commissioned the piece in 1814 for which Ingres never get paid for, because of the collapse of the Murat regime in 1815 on Ottoman ground; by the end of the Napoleon’s dynasty, he ended up in Rome (Kren 1) where he belonged because of his —.
The primitive state of the East, with its savagery of women being held in Harem’s, exploited and available, was a clear sign of a fallen empire already (Kren 2). Even though, the idea of Harem was not accepted at all on Europe, it sure exhilarated the French artists, enough to start a new movement called, romanticism in its essence with sincerity and need of new exotic visual tastes.
Jean-Auguste’s Odalisque caused serious amount of criticism because of the style mixes of neoclassicism with new unorthodox romantic themes (Grande Odalisque 1). Imaginary world of romantic love, freedom of thought, individualism and self-expressionism was everything the Ingres chose instead of an accepted single style of academic art thought and imposed on class teachings (Wright1).
As the best student of Jacques-Louis David’s, Ingres refused the foundation of an orthodox teaching of arts at an early age. Instead, he focused his self-educatory behavior on the original Greek and Roman art.
The initial response towards the piece was the close and brutal examination of the women’s body’s proportions and the lack of realism on anatomical level (Grande Odalisque 2). Ingres was not aware however, that in a year, Manet’s Olympia, would be admired by the whole art exhibition community making it unfair his time.
Time passed and his unorthodoxly executed piece would find its real value after couple years by getting accepted from the artist community and by later years encourages artists like Matisse to discover female nude all over again (Wright 2).
Henry Matisse was one of the most influential and progressive artists of the 20th century. His works were also greatly influenced by new technological advancements and cultural relations. It was reflected in the psychology and spirituality of his works. His “stylistic innovations fundamentally altered the course of modern art and affected the art of several generations of younger painters, spanned almost six and a half decades” (Dabrowski n. pg.). His main intention was to examine the essence of things.
Much of his works were inspired by Ingres’ Grand Odalisque which was not recognized by critics of the Ingres’ period, but was acknowledged later. New tendencies in painting were reflected in Matisse’s use of colors, which he used “in their maximum strength” (Lewis and Lewis 396).
He discovered that colors can have a great influence on produce a desirable effect. The discovery of this idea helped him to add many decorative elements to his pictures and, at the same time, avoid chaotic scenes. He promoted that color and shape can give to the artist more freedom and let the fantasy create unpredictable scenes.
Indeed, the paintings of Matisse are full of life and energy. His innovative style suggested the escape from the rules of realism and gave “a respond to natural world, that he called a living harmony of colors, a harmony analogous to a musical composition” (Lewis and Lewis 396). Though, some of Matisse’s works were not pleasantly accepted, he remains one the of the first artists “responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture” (Henri Matisse n. pg.).
Thus, Henry Matisse and Jean-Auguste Dominiques Ingres are two painters that brought innovations in the paintings of their epoques. Their works were formed under the influences of great social and cultural relations and both artists were innovators who introduced new technological advancements in their times. Thus, two paintings under analysis, Grand Odalisque, and The Woman with a Hat show the differences and similarities in the styles of both artists.
As it has already been mentioned, the painting by Ingres was inspired by the exotics of the East. It depicts “a woman of the harem surrounded by luxurious accessories in a pose reminiscent of David’s Madame Recamier”.
The artist used mild colors and lines to transfer the beauty of a real woman, and “not an allegory of Venus” (Kren 2) like it was in works by Titian and Giorgione. In addition, the artist managed to show the Western beauty surrounded by Eastern scenery, though, he was not inspired by the works of Eastern artists, as their traditions did not allow painting nude women.
Moreover, women in Turkish harems were dressed in costumes, rather than being nude. So, the painting of Ingress was a mixture of classical traditions, exotic Eastern theme and modern technique of painting. He was the first who managed to unite these issues in one picture.
As well as Ingres’ Odalisque, Matisse’s The Woman with a Hat was an innovation in the world of art and “in the center of controversy” (Woman with a Hat n. pg.) that put a beginning to a new artistic movement. As it has already been mentioned, Matisse made use of new methods in use of colors that allowed creation of everyday scenes without adding chaos to the whole picture.
The Woman with a Hat suggested more individualistic and expressive style that marked out the author as innovator. The unnatural use of colors add life and expressiveness to the picture. The woman is depicted in a classical French dress, she is a typical French bourgeoisie. However, the lines and colors make it passionate and expressive. The hat is very significant detail that puts together the focus of the picture, in other words, it is a central figure of the painting.
The hat is the most bright and rich in color element of the picture. It attracts attention and, actually, holds it. With closer look, the picture seems abstract and non-real, however, the technique suggests that one should have the overall impression and perceive each element as a single unite. This technique was also adopted by Pablo Picasso who also made his contribution to new artistic movement called later expressionism.
So, Jean-Auguste Dominiques Ingres and Henri Matisse are two great artists separated in time, but very close in perception of art. Each of them introduced new painting technique in painting that literally changed the attitude to the meaning and purpose of art. Both, Ingress and Matisse, were representatives of different styles and schools. However, it was Ingres who inspired Matisse to create many of his works.
The major issues that made those artists introduce such radical changes into the world of art were great social, political and scientific innovations, as well as technological development. Society could not stay the same and, as art is the reflection of the social changes, it could not be unchanged as well. Thus, new tendencies in art were the result of new psychological and cultural changes in society in times of Ingress and Matisse.
Dabrowski, Magdalena. “Henri Matisse (1869–1954)”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–.
“Femme au Chapeau.” SFMOMA.org 15 Nov 2010. Web. 01 Jan 1991.
Kren, Emil. “Ingre, Jean-Auguste-Dominique, Biography.” Web Gallery of Art. Web Gallery of Art, 01 Jan 2005. Web. 16 Nov 2010.
Lewis, Richard, and Susan I. Lewis. The Power of Art. New York. Cengage Learning, 2008
Vassilika, Eleni. Greek and Roman Art. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press, 1998
Wikipedia contributors. “Grande Odalisque.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 Jun. 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.
Wikipedia contributors. “Henri Matisse.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 Nov. 2010. Web. 17 Nov. 2010.
Wikipedia contributors. “Woman with a Hat.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 May. 2010. Web. 19 Nov. 2010.
Wright, Anne. “Ingre’s Grand Odalisque from a Book Talk by Susan Siegfried.” Yahoo! Contributor Network, 12 Apr 2010. Web. 17 Nov 2010.
For a full description neoclassical attitude to exotic East, see Richard Lewis, and Susan I. Lewis, 354 – 356.
“Femme au Chapeau.” SFMOMA.org 15 Nov 2010. Web. 01 Jan 1991
Eleni Vassilika. Greek and Roman Art. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.) P. 6.
Richard Lewis, and Susan I. Lewis, The Power of Art. (Belmont: Cengage Learning, 2008) 396.
Richard Lewis, and Susan I. Lewis, The Power of Art. (Belmont: Cengage Learning, 2008) 396.