Olympia by Edouard Manet
Edouard Manet

When Olympia was presented at the Salon of 1865, out of all the paintings on the walls (and this is believed to have numbered in the thousands), it was Olympia that caused a major uproar.  Such a realistic portrayal of prostitution so outraged Parisians that Olympia had to be moved near the Salon's high ceiling for its own protection.  The uproar at the Salon was a frontal assault on the established methods of painting and the Salon was "the field of battle", according to Manet.  The critics fought back and so did the public -- Manet was intensely hated, scoffed at, ridiculed and made the butt of countless jokes.  Critics universally denounced the painting's unashamed immorality.  But in the decades to follow, both Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia were recognized as groundbreaking masterpieces.  And both found a home in the world's most renowned art museum, the Louvre.