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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

The Origin of the World

Courbet

1865

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You cannot miss the Origin of the World, when walking through the collections of Orsay.

It was commissioned by Khalil-Bey, a Turkish diplomat to complete his collection of erotic paintings.

Courbet is representing a "real" female body, hair and all - which fits with the Realist manifesto.

The anatomical precision of the body, its realism, almost take the sting out of the eroticism.

The painting remained in private hands until its acquisition by Orsay in 1995.

A famous previous owner was French psychoanalyst Lacan, who kept it hidden in his living room!