What type of audience response did Manet intend for his painting Olympia to elicit and was he successful?    

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Likely as not, Manet knew exactly what kind of reaction he was going to get with Olympia, and he chose to paint it anyway.  His reputation as a bit of a playboy did not stop him from indulging in occasional hijinks with the ladies, and while he was perfectly capable of painting subjects and styles acceptable to the Salon, he did not always do so.  Olympia, presented at the Salon of 1865 featured a nude prostitute, or, as the French so delicately phrased it, a courtesan, reclining comfortably with a an expression perhaps best described as sassy.  It was immediately placed in an obscure and insulting location away from the other works, and critics decried both Manet's subject matter ("coarse and vulgar") and his techniqute ("flat like a playing card").  The outrage and horror far outdid that elicited by Luncheon on the Grass, anotherManet  painting featuring a naked woman. 

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