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The Flesh of Painting: Caillebotte’s Modern Olympia

Deutsch, A; (2018) The Flesh of Painting: Caillebotte’s Modern Olympia. Dix-Neuf , 22 (1-2) pp. 1-22. 10.1080/14787318.2017.1381371. Green open access

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Abstract

The language of putrefaction, often applied through a culinary analogy, appeared consistently in the critical reception of modern-life and Impressionist painting. For example, two critics used the term faisandé, referring to well-hung meat, to describe Manet’s nude figure of Olympia in 1865. The analogies that they posed between morgue bodies, female figures, meat, and fleshy paint material became central modes of denigrating Impressionist paintings of women in the ensuing decades. Gustave Caillebotte’s Veal in a Butcher’s Shop (c. 1882), depicting anthropomorphized, gendered, and sexualized animal flesh, can be considered in this context. In my reading, the painting enacts the critical responses to his colleagues’ figures, foregrounding the violent operations through which bodies might be reduced to meat, whether literal or metaphorical. In their comparisons to rotting flesh, nineteenth-century critics expressed a visceral reaction to works of art that Veal in a Butcher’s Shop demands.

Type: Article
Title: The Flesh of Painting: Caillebotte’s Modern Olympia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/14787318.2017.1381371
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/14787318.2017.1381371
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Gustave Caillebotte, impressionism, Édouard Manet, Olympia, still life, meat, decomposition
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10068275
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