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Olympia and Venus of Urbino: Simile and Contrast Between Paintings

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Although the two paintings, Olympia and Venus of Urbino, have a lot of similar interests, they also have many differences. In both paintings we are looking at two nude woman sitting on their bed. In Olympia you can see the woman, with a black male servant and cat staring off into the unknown, while in the Venus of Urbina, you see the woman and another woman off in the distance. Although, they are both alike in that way, they hold different meaning.

In Olympia, the painting caused confrontation due to the acts of prostitution taken place during this time. The woman is being waited on hand and foot by the male servant. In the painting you can see the male servant waiting on her hand and foot, all the while presenting her with flowers. The woman, however, does not show any sort of interest. This can lead the viewers to believe that the woman is used to being showered in gifts. Manet, the painter, was highly disregarded for her works on this painting. Not only did she use a sore topic from this time period. She also did not use the ideal woman in this painting. The ideal woman would have beautiful, vibrant skin. Their structure would be the perfect shape, not too high and not too low. She would have a nice smile. However the woman in the picture does not display that. Rather the lady shown has pale skin and a commodity body. The contrast of the painting is between light and dark. The woman and the bed sheets are light, and blend, in contrast the rest of the background is dark. The fact that the woman is “facing” shows that the woman is not ashamed. It shows that she is confident in herself, which many woman in this timeframe did not have due to the high expectations that were carried around of their appearance.

In the Venus of Urbino, we are also looking at a woman who is nude, but this one has a different tone to it. The main purpose being this painting is to remind and to allow visualization of what was to be expected by the woman in this time period by their own husbands. The woman in this painting is a representation of the goddess of love. We are also looking at the contrast between the light and darkness of the painting, as well as the fact the woman is looking directly at us which makes Venus stand out once again. In the background, you notice a child looking around in what looks to be a toy chest, and the maid or servant is looking over her. Dogs, to most people symbolizes loyalty. So to me, when I see the woman laying down on the bed with her dog at her feet, it makes me think of the loyalty that is meant to be in the center of marriage. Without loyalty, the marriage is not worth it. Red roses, in today’s world signifies the beauty, purity, and significance of what love is supposed to be. So her holding the red roses, is just that. These are two very important main points, because all those symbolizes what true love is. True love isn’t to be taken lightly. In the background while looking at the maid looking over the small child’s signifies motherhood. A mother is always looking over the child, even if the child is gone from their sight. That is part of what a mother does, they watch over and protect their babies, no matter the cost or what the situation may be.

To summarize, as you can see, although the painting themselves are both very different, they are not alike. They both represent the trademarks that have happened throughout the ages. The woman looking show power and dignity that woman have.  

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Olympia and Venus of Urbino: Simile and Contrast Between Paintings. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from
“Olympia and Venus of Urbino: Simile and Contrast Between Paintings.” GradesFixer, 30 Aug. 2022,
Olympia and Venus of Urbino: Simile and Contrast Between Paintings. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Sept. 2022].
Olympia and Venus of Urbino: Simile and Contrast Between Paintings [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Aug 30 [cited 2022 Sept 22]. Available from:
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