Artworks
The Turkish Bath
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)
ssohail's picture

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Before y’all get excited, relax.

This isn’t an advertisement for a neo-classical nudist colony at the Folsom Street Fair. It’s just your typical day at a Turkish bathhouse, as pictured by Ingres!

You might think a crotchety 80 year-old artist would be painting stuff that’s more philosophical in nature, but not Ingres. He got off (maybe literally) on painting this feast of flesh, AKA exotic beauties in their birthday suits. His primary reference and inspiration for this painting was a letter from Lady Mary Montagu, the missus of the British ambassador to Turkey. She hung out in a lot of female-only spaces in Turkey because she possessed the correct genitalia to gain access to such spots. (Transgender rights were not a thing at this point, obviously.) She wrote of a bathhouse at Adrianpole: “I believe there were two hundred women there in all. Beautiful naked women in various poses…some conversing, others at work, or drinking coffee or tasting a sorbet, and many stretched out nonchalantly, whilst their slaves (generally ravishing girls of 17 or 18) plaited their hair in fantastical shapes.” This puts my 20-minute bubble bath and trashy magazine to shame.

This super erotic painting is an eyeful in terms of the beautiful coloring, but looks like Ingres couldn’t care less about things like distance and perspective. Observe the figure chilling on the floor in the left corner…doesn’t she seem too tiny compared to all the other bodies? Some of the ladies also look like they’re without a proper skeletal framework. Looks like Professor Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets may have performed a bone-disappearing spell on the swooning lady on the right. Skele-gro, anyone?

Ingres had been all about exploring the mystic beauty of the Orient for a while. This is obvious in his much earlier works like The Valpinçon Bather and Grande Odalisque. However, this tondo (fancy word for circular) painting came much later in Ingres life, when Prince Napoleon commissioned it. His wife could not handle the shocking material of this painting though. Prude! It was handed back to Ingres, only to be displayed before the public many years later. It was even rejected twice by the Louvre when patrons of the painting were handing it to them! People like Degas and Picasso were crazy about it, though. Wonder if this is where Jimi Hendrix also picked up the idea for his banned cover of Electric Ladyland from…

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Here is what Wikipedia says about The Turkish Bath

The Turkish Bath (Le Bain turc) is an oil painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, initially completed between 1852 and 1859, but modified in 1862. The painting depicts a group of nude women at a pool in a harem. It has an erotic style that evokes both the Near East and earlier western styles associated with mythological subject matter. The painting expands on a number of motifs that Ingres had explored in earlier paintings, in particular The Valpinçon Bather (1808) and La Grande odalisque (1814).

The work is signed and dated 1862, when Ingres was around 82 years old. He altered the original rectangular format and changed the painting to a tondo. A photograph of its original state, taken by Charles Marville, survives.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about The Turkish Bath.

Comments (1)

pogo agogo

Wow, I've never seen this whole painting! Usually it;s just the lady in the middle and everybody else that's photoshopped out.