A Modern Olympia (c. 1873-1874) by Paul Cezanne

A Modern Olympia - Paul Cezanne - 1870

Artwork Information

TitleA Modern Olympia
ArtistPaul Cezanne
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions46 x 55.5 cm (18 x 21 3/4")
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationPrivate Collection
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About A Modern Olympia

“A Modern Olympia,” created in 1870 by artist Paul Cézanne, is an oil on canvas genre painting. This artwork, which measures 46 x 55.5 cm, is presently held in a private collection. Despite being framed as a work from the Romanticism movement, Cézanne’s piece is often associated with the precursors of Post-Impressionism due to its place in the artist’s oeuvre and its timing within art history.

The artwork presents a scene with strong references to Édouard Manet’s “Olympia,” positioned as a modern reinterpretation. In it, a nude woman reclines upon a bed, looking directly at the viewer, with her arm extended towards a dark-clothed figure, which can be interpreted as a client or viewer, seated at the bedside. Contrary to the smooth rendering of classical romantic paintings, the brushwork here is more visible, reflecting Cézanne’s transition towards a more personal style marked by thicker application of paint and a departure from the idealized forms of Romanticism. The background features a servant or attendant standing beside a richly colored curtain, along with elements like a fruit-laden table, contributing to the narrative and robust textural composition of the scene. In this depiction, Cézanne questions traditional roles and the gaze within the genre, engaging in a dialogue with the works of his predecessors while paving the way for future artists.

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