“Olympia” by Edouard Manet

Edouard Manet



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His ‘yellow bellied odalisque’, half painted
half sketched, outraged the Salon’s bourgeois passion.
They strung her up well out of reach. Acquainted
with Ingres’ languid goddesses, high fashion
extolled coy Venuses with moist eyes rolling
in servile ecstasy. Olympia’s gaze
confounds voyeurs by craftily controlling
ardent males; drawn by her power to amaze,
they sense too late Manet, not God, created
woman. Anonymous bouquets from doting
suitors, haughtily she ignores. Defeated,
admirers pay out handsomely for nothing:
no painted lady proffers carnal pleasure,
that sloe-black stare remains her only treasure.