“maybe this way the sallon will accept it, monsieur Manet”
GUYS I FOUND A LOOPHOLE IN THE SYSTEM
So, there really was a huge controversy over Olympia (this painting) being indecent when it was displayed for the first time, but the problem was NOT her undoubtedly female-presenting nipples (or her legs, or anything else about her naked body). It was, in fact, the way she’s looking straight back at the viewer without any coyness, and the fact that various details in the painting including the black ribbon around her neck, her bracelet and earrings, the black cat (not visible in this picture) and the orchid in her hair marked her as a successful courtesan or prostitute of the contemporary era. If Manet had left the pretense that she was a figure from ancient history or mythology he could have gotten away with entering the painting into the salon without any trouble, but the fact that she was bold, independent and contemporary was what really drove people insane about this painting.
So the fact that we’ve come all the way back around to being scandalized by one of the parts of this painting that WASN’T scandalous in the 1860s is pretty goddamned hilarious.
Also, I just learned (in fact-checking my memory of this anecdote, since art history was a long time ago) that the model in this painting, Victorine Meurent, later became a painter in her own right.