February 12, 2013

Odalisque and a Slave (and a Ghost!)

Boy oh boy. I've just been sidetracked for an hour and a half. I'm trying to study for my mid-term in French Cultural Studies. I was cutting and pasting and got as far as this painting by Ingres called Odalisque and a Slave and I was stopped by the ghost. It's a ghost that no one scholarly seems to mention online or in the books I have at home. See it there behind the head of the musician? It looks a bit like a conglomeration of banisters, or bones, but it does look eerily like Christ or a woman. The guarding eunuch is looking straight at it.

I want to know in what I've just read over the past 90 minutes is why no one mentions it. I realize it's probably just an opium-induced hallucination (the odalisque's, not mine) but why does nobody refer to it. ooooooohhhh.

Any way Odalisque and a Slave resides at the Fogg Museum at Harvard. 


The Clever Pup said...

The expert at the Fogg got back to me. It's a fountain with a minaret style central spout and 8 smaller ones encircling it. I don't see it personally and it's left out of some of Ingres drawings completely.

Alberti's Window said...

I was just about to comment on it being a fountain, and then I saw your comment. I've always interpreted it that way, but it does look ghost-like, now that you mention it. There's an article by Walter Denny on Orientalism that describes this painting, and I think he discusses it as being a fountain, too.

It's a great work of art. The Denny article is fun, too, because his footnotes discuss how the elements in this painting are a pastiche of objects from different cultures.

Hels said...

I've noticed it either...but it goes to show that however well we think we know a work of art, there is always more to learn. This is particularly true when an element is encoded or somewhat secretive eg Jacobite messages.