Openly defiant, he flirts with the public, peeking out of his cabinet. Painting Boucher - a kind of quintessential frivolous excesses of the mid-eighteenth century, and himself - one of the most consistent representatives of the Rococo style.
While it is not entirely clear whether La Odalisque Morena is the wife of François Boucher , it seems likely. For one thing, the painter regularly incorporated his wife and children as models when painting family scenes. Second, the artist worked smarter rather than harder by replicating this particular portrait, but with different heads and faces to suit different clients, resulting in several different copies of this same scene. It is thought, then, that this painting is both his blueprint for future commissions of this nature and a sensual gift to Madame Boucher.
Although the term Odalisque originally refers to a slave or concubine, it is used here as a term describing the sexual and erotic fascination common among Rococo portraiture during the reign of King Louis XV of France. Unfortunately, not all of France was won over by the playful eroticism displayed by Rococo artists, including Boucher. His harshest critic, the philosopher Denis Diderot, accused Boucher of essentially prostituting his wife, although he himself would later admit that Boucher's art was "such a pleasant vice". While historians can only speculate on these matters, it is likely that Madame Boucher knew exactly what was going on.
This portrait has come back to the center of a scandal involving the firing of an elementary school teacher in Utah. After letting her sixth grade class examine a hundred different classical paintings, the students expressed their discomfort at seeing Madame Boucher's enormous voluptuousness. This resulted in the teacher's unfortunate dismissal and consequently a class with the most protected sixth graders in history learning what a 270-year-old Frenchwoman's sexy toilet looks like.
The Odalisca Morena is ranked no. 92 on the list of famous paintings
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