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The Birth of Venus

  Buy now from allposters.com1863: Musée d'Orsay at Paris

This painting was the hit of the controversial Salon of 1863. While crowds were dismayed by Manet's Olympia with her direct gaze and unacceptable standards of modelling and composition, Cabanel's Venus has all the refined eroticism that was expected by Salon-goers of the time. She is idealised and devoid of any blemish or body hair. She is sexually passive, characterless, and more perfect than is possible. Surrounded by masses of luxuriant hair, she is the ultimate male fantasy, voluptuous yet chaste, as well as accommodating. Her form, a brilliant performance of draughtsmanship and careful, systematic modelling, is the nineteenth century's version of ancient and Renaissance styles.
 
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