Olympia

Édouard Manet's 1865 painting Olympia  scandalised Paris when it was first exhibited. It portrayed a recognisably young prostitute posed as an odalisque  in a harsh and unflattering light. Critics described the jaundiced flesh color as cadaverous. Equally disconcerting was the evident youth of the model at a time when street girls entering prostitution were little more than children. Any first year art student and every art lover knows the story of this painting and its place in the history of art.

The image on the left comes from the holding museum Musée d'Orsay. The image on the right is Wikipedia's Featured Picture version. It has been warmed, essentially to eroticize it as we shall see, and it is absolutely hideous. The piss colored flesh tone could scarcely be further from Manet's intention. It was featured as Picture of the Day (POTD) on 23 June 2014. When Coat saw it, she choked on her brandy and cornflakes and fired off two indignant missives to Wikipedia, one to the Village Pump and the other to the Featured Pictures Talk page. In her criticism Coat concentrated on the moral rights of the artist and the photographer. Probably her concerns were overstated, we are not lawyers and she certainly was not. Nevertheless she was surely right to complain about what really amounts to cultural vandalism. 

The warmed version was supplied by Chris Woodrich, although he was not to blame for its selection as the Featured version (he made it quite clear that he much preferred the original Google image). What happened was that a Wikimedia Commons adminstrator Kaldari opposed Featuring the original image. Kaldari is the editor we mention in our page on C1cada. In the light of his difficulties described there, he might well have paused to think his oppose was not very appropriate in the circumstances:

Meh. It looks so dark and flat, almost monochrome. The maid is nearly invisible and the woman on the bed looks like a cadaver. Surely this can't be what it looks like in real life. I would be rather disappointed if a real life Manet didn't look more like File:Manet, Edouard - Olympia, 1863.jpg.

It's plain he simply knows nothing of the painting and that what he really wanted was an eroticized version, as in the one he links.

His opinion carried the day. It's remarkable that amongst this group of art lovers and enthusiasts, not one appeared to know different.

Coat came into contact with Hafspajen for the first time over this episode. She was less than enchanted.*

* Coat's link to the d'Orsay image should have been to this.