Henri Mattise, Odalisque Seated with Arms Raised, Green Striped Chair, 1923

Pierre Auguste Renoir, Odalisque, 1870

Henri Matisse, Odalisque with a Moorish Chair, 1928

Odalisque is the French form of Turkish odalık “chambermaid, maidservant, female slave,” composed of oda “room” and lık, a suffix expressing the function of a thing.

PS. The first two paintings are hung right next to each other in the Chester Dale Collection exhibition at the National Gallery. Hence my interest in what the hell an odalisque is, and my resulting delight (but not surprise) that it was something Ottoman/Turkish. Of course, the most famous odalisque painting is the one by Ingres.

PPS. May I point out, in the Matisse drawing above, the one continuous line that begins on the subject’s right knee and swoops down to form the outline of her inner left leg and some of the folds in her pants. Do you see it, that backwards-s-shaped stroke? That single penstroke blows my mind.

Odalisque Seated with Arms Raised, Green Striped Chair, 1923


2 thoughts on “Odalisque

  1. Paula November 11, 2010 / 12:17 am

    CPuls, I find your expressions here mindblowing and inspiring! UM shared your web site address with me, so tonight before heading home from work I thought I’d spend 5 minutes checking it out, and here I am an hour later still finding it hard to tear myself away to go home. It has been absolutely delightful exploring your world of art and travel and languages and musings. I went to MU with AJ and have always enjoyed all members of the H family. You are carrying on the family tradition of being smart, creative, fun and kind. Keep it up the great “work”! and I’ll be checking in now and then to see where your explorations – inner and outer – take you.


    • C. Puls November 18, 2010 / 11:41 am

      Dear Paula, thank you for your kind words! I am glad to welcome another member of the extended H family and very touched to hear that you’ve found something worthwhile here. All the best wishes, CP : )


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