A fascinating article about the origin of Courbet’s outrageous painting that scandalized Paris, The Muslim Playboy Behind Paris’ Most Scandalous Painting at the Daily Beast.
PARIS – Let us begin with “The Origin of the World,” one of history’s most scandalous paintings, then turn to the origins — and the world — of the man who commissioned it.
The subject of the canvas, limned in arresting detail, is a woman’s torso as she lies in bed with the sheet pulled upward to reveal one breast and her legs spread, exposing her vagina, apparently awaiting her lover. We do not see her face or arms or her legs below the thigh. The singular focus is her sex. Even in these jaded times, as one looks at the painting on the wall of the Musée D’Orsay in Paris the effect is so graphic, indeed pornographic, that it surprises many tourists.
How much more shocking must it have been 150 years ago in the renowned art collection of a Muslim pasha? Indeed, in his Paris apartments he kept the painting behind a curtain in the cabinet de toilette, but everyone who knew him knew of it–and le tout Parisfrequented his opulent soirées, which were renowned for fine dining, great wines, beautiful women, and high-stakes gambling.