The Salon catalogue entry for Olympia was accompanied by they following lines: |
Quand, lasse de songer, Olympia s'eveille,
Le printemps entre au bras du doux messager noir,
C'est l'esclave a la nuit amoureuse pareille,
Qui veut feter le jour, delicieux a voir,
L'auguste, jeune fillle en qui la flamme veille.
"When, tired of dreams, Olympia wakes up,
Spring enters on the gentle black messenger's arm.
It is the slave, akin to the amorous night,
Who wishes to greet the day, delicious to see,
The august young woman in whom the flame keeps watch."
by Zacharie Astruc
Manet took Venus out of mythology and made her a 19th century Parisian: a demimonde, a kept woman, but criticism of Olympia was directed as much against the 'ugliness' of the model as against its stylistic novelty.