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Art Comparison Essay: Nymph of the Spring Vs. Large Odalisque

Autor:   •  December 19, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  1,240 Words (5 Pages)  •  248 Views

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Lisa Ferreira



Art Comparison Essay: Nymph of the Spring vs. Large Odalisque

The purpose of this essay is the compare and contrast representational paintings of nude women, as painted by artists from the 15th and 18th century. At first glance, Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Nymph of Spring (1537) and Jean-Auguste- Dominique Ingres Large Odalisque (1814) may appear to be two very similar pieces of art, however upon further examination, it is quite obvious to see some palpable differences that set the tone for differences between the eras in which they were created. The way in which the two artists portray the women in their paintings, shows a difference in values, opinions, and perhaps even fantasies.

         The most obvious similarity between Nymph of Spring (1537) and Large Odalisque (1814) is the elongated postures of the women. The nymph is outstretched, laying on a couch made of foliage, in a somewhat relaxed position, with her head resting on her hands and her legs casually spread. Her body takes up nearly the entirety of the frame. From the point of her bent elbow down to the tips of her toes, her body is the focal point, and guides your vision along the horizon of the image. Similarly, if you look at the Large Odalisque (1814), her body is also splayed across a bed, and it occupies every edge of the painting. She is laid out, in a somewhat provocative manner, rather than the relaxed manner of the nymph, however she is still resting on her elbow, and her legs are laid out in a comfortable manner. Both these paintings appear to aim to capture the beauty of a nude woman’s body.

         Another similarity that is observable amongst the two pieces is the presence of decoration on the female body. The odalisque is wearing a headdress and a tiara, in addition to some bracelets or bangles on her right arm. This arm also seems to be holding some sort of feather duster, perhaps symbolizing her lower class. Turning the attention back to the painting of the nymph, we see on her left wrist a red coloured band, and some matching rings on her thumb and forefinger. A matching necklace lays around her neck and extends down her body. The red velvet gown that her head laid upon is reminisce to the headdress that the odalisque had placed upon her head.

         The first major difference to be examined is the actual view of the bodies in the artwork. The nymph is casually showing a full front view, where we can clearly see her breasts and lower frontal area. What is interesting about this piece is that the necklace worn around her neck seems to draw attention to the breasts, and the lace veil around her waist also draws attention to her nakedness. Quite contrastingly, the odalisque is much more conservative, and almost shy in the way she is posing and covering up her legs with her feather duster. Her body is turned away from the audience in such a fashion that no scandalous parts of her body are really visible, other than the swell of her breast, which still is not fully visible. We see here a great difference between the two paintings in the way that the female nude is viewed.


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