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The Birth of Venus Ghosted Sweater

Selkie

Venus is back, this depiction of the Goddess was painted by  Alexandre Cabanel in 1863. It is printed here on sheer fabric, creating a stunning ghost effect.

At the Salon of 1863, The Birth of Venus was one of a multitude of female nudes. Bathed in opalescent colors, the goddess Venus shyly looks to the viewer from beneath the crook of her elbow. Two years later, Manet presented his now renowned painting Olympia at the Salon as well. Today both hang in the Musee’d’ Orsay.

Unlike Venus's ethereal-like palette, Manet painted Olympia with pale, placid skin tone, and darkly outlined the figure. Her only seemingly modest gesture is her placement of her hand over her leg, though it is not out of shyness- one must pay before they can see. James Rubin writes of the two works: “The Olympia is often compared to Cabanel’s Birth of Venus, for the latter is a far more sexually appealing work, despite its mythological guise… It is evident Manet’s demythologizing of the female nude was foremost a timely reminder of modern realities. The majority of critics attacked the painting with unmitigated disgust…: “What is this odalisque with the yellow belly, ignoble model dredged up from who knows where?” [And] “The painter’s attitude is of inconceivable vulgarity.”

By adhering to the accepted canon of the day, Cabanel produced a quite seductive painting of a mythological beauty presented in a calculated way that was acceptable for viewers at the time of its creation. Following the Salon it was said: “His dark-eyed heroines, thinly painted, usually in muted colors and immaculately drawn, were popular on both sides of the Atlantic”.