A sketch of a nude female form, with her back to the viewer in a relaxed reclining pose. The sketch stops at her neck and the right hand, leaning on her hips, is not finished.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), Study for La Grande Odalisque, 1814, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © The Courtauld

Study for La Grande Odalisque

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

This study relates to Ingres’s celebrated masterpiece La Grande Odalisque (Musée du Louvre, Paris). The painting was commissioned in 1813 by Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples and sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, and depicts a reclining nude in an exotic harem setting.  

The drawing was owned by the Impressionist painter Edgar Degas and later by the collector Samuel Courtauld. Degas admired the precision of Ingres’s confident linear style that sets him apart from his contemporaries. Here the artist skilfully captures the S-shaped curve of the nude whose sensuality is underlined by the unnatural elongation of her spine. Details such as her head or right hand are barely sketched, while much attention is devoted to the shadows cast by her armpit, buttocks and feet. 

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Two men sit across from each other at a table covered with a brown tablecloth, playing cards. Both men wear overcoats and hats, and the man on the left smokes a pipe. They sit inside a wooden building. i Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) The Card Players, around 1892-96, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)