Sensual Statues of the Musée D’Orsay

Tensions of the world making you anxious?

Here is much soothing, sculptural sensuality

but also some less comforting, chiseled objectification


Continuing my fascination with sensual statuary in Paris, the greatest concentration of such aesthetically, artistically, and, let’s admit it, amorously pleasing statues in Paris, and thus likely the world, might be found in the Musée D’Orsay.  Originally built as a train station for the World’s Fair that birthed the Eiffel Tower, it was turned soon after into a museum of modern art, now showcasing mostly late 19th and early 20th century works.

Once again we find statues with varying degrees of overt and implied sensuality, with nudity that runs the gamut from formal to tender, from subtle to sensational, from exquisite to exploitative (sometimes all at once).

SS - orsay sappho

Above, a depiction of Sappho, passively asleep, girly and demure, her breast nearly exposed.  Not my idea of Sappho, although I guess she napped sitting on a chair too on occasion…


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Above and below, marble centerfolds.  The passive (unconscious?) female body displayed for ravishing.

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For gender objectification parity here the male body in the same passive surrender to the (male?) gaze:

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There is surely something more to be discussed than sleep habits when sculptures of bodies in the most obviously erotically alluring and passive poses also render those figures with their eyes closed.

But I guess having these figures look at the viewer with eyes open might have been a step too far for 19th century society.  Whereas the overt physical display coupled with their vulnerability and lack of agency may make these sculptures less innocent in the 21st century than they seemed in the 20th.

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And, as before, we will indulge in some “Sensual Classics“:

Sensual Classic #3: Brahms – Symphony # 3 – Poco Allegretto


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SS - Orsay 11a

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Sensual Classic #4 – Chopin – Nocturne #1


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The sculpture below is called “Nature Reveals Herself to Science”.

Uh huh.   Somehow scientific inquiry is not the first thing that come to my mind looking at this sculpture…

SS - orsay 16 nature reveals



Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen”, displayed in a glass case like a scientific specimen, raises all sorts of questions about the depiction of young women.

I prefer to focus on her undaunted self-possession.

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SS - orsay degas 3

About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 40 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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