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Emily Mitchell

February 17th, 2016

Period 7

Compare and contrast: #115 vs. #121

Olympia, a painting by douard Manet, shows a nude white woman whose name is

Olympia lying on a bed being brought flowers by a black servant. Olympia's confrontational

gaze caused shock and astonishment when the painting was first exhibited because a number of

details in the picture identified her as a prostitute. "Olympia" was a name associated with

prostitutes in 1860s Paris. Olympia's left hand appears to block, which has been interpreted as

symbolic of her sexual independence from men and her role as a prostitute, granting or

restricting access to her body in return for payment. The painting deviates from the academic

canon in its style, characterized by broad, quick brushstrokes, studio lighting that eliminates mid-

tones, large color surfaces and shallow depth.

The Coiffure, painted by Mary Cassat in 1891 reflects ideals of American Impressionism

and modern art. This drypoint etching of a woman adjusting her hair is one of the hundreds that

Mary Cassatt made in her in-home studio. The word la coiffure evokes a precise image, one of

wealthy women in glamorous settings. The ritual of grooming, dressing, and preparing ones hair

from the seventeenth and eighteenth century court days of Anne of Austria and Marie Antoinette

was passed down to nineteenth-century ideals of femininity and beauty. La coiffure was part of

a specific lifestyle, yet the woman in Cassatts print is tending to her hair alone. Contrasting from

Olympia by douard Manet, the woman in this image is not sexualized as the details of her body

are deliberately muted into a general concept of curves and lines.