Due to popular demand, here is our recently identified odalisque. Marta sent it to me after reading the first post about her mother. She assumed this image, done in 1946, was probably of the cheesecake variety.
Oh no! The position of Marta’s mom is purely art historical, absent some shape in the upper right to draw the viewer’s eye away, but briefly, from the figure. The line of red fringe on the pillow in the center of the image helps some.
The oriental rug and brass pitcher above suggest the “East”, and that the woman may be part of a harem (when artists began to use this motif as an excuse to paint a nude woman, it was understood that the woman was of low morals). This work has a nice opposition element in the upper left of a musician, which fills the compositional need but also suggests low morals as we all know what music does to people!
Simply with the head wrap, the artist suggests that this woman is a member of a harem. Notice that the counterpoint to the strong line of the figure here is a window lightening up the composition and subtly drawing the eye away from the left side. Any kind of shape can do this balancing act for a composition. The single red rose may symbolize love, as it did in Roman times.
Moving into the Twentieth century, consider the envelope being pushed! If this is a “reclining nude” enough for your definition, we see my outlaw, clothing symbolizing pure sex, with a counterpoint of the ironing board at the upper left. This makes me think of an episode of “Mad Men” we viewed last night. Jackie during the day, Marilyn at night!
Walking further into the bizarro world, we see Gracie, the late love of another outlaw, displaying what she knows about the motif of the odalisque. Her seductive stare is so memorable.
Corot’s odalisque above is more simply rendered, like that of Marta’s mom. And her position is close to Gracie’s. I find it interesting that he felt the need to fill that empty space that usually has a correspondent with words—Marietta____Roma. It works!
- Somebody’s Other Mother (leemalerich.wordpress.com)