"What shocked contemporary audiences was not Olympia's nudity, nor even the presence of her fully clothed maid, but her confrontational gaze and a number of details identifying her as a demi-mondaine or courtesan. These include the orchid in her hair, her bracelet, pearl earrings and the oriental shawl on which she lies, symbols of wealth and sensuality. The black ribbon around her neck, in stark contrast with her pale flesh, and her cast-off slipper underline the voluptuous atmosphere. Whereas Titian's Venus delicately covers her sex, Olympia's hand firmly protects hers, as if to emphasize her independence and sexual dominance over men. Manet replaced the little dog (symbol of fidelity) in Titian's painting with a black cat, which symbolized prostitution. Olympia disdainfully ignores the flowers presented to her by her servant, probably a gift from a client. Some have suggested that she is looking in the direction of the door, as her client barges in unannounced.Via Wikipedia
The painting deviates from the academic canon in its style, characterized by broad, quick brushstrokes, studio lighting that eliminates mid-tones, large color surfaces and shallow depth. Instead of a smooth idealised nude, as in Alexandre Cabanel's La naissance de Vénus (also painted in 1863), Manet painted a real woman, whose nakedness is revealed in all its brutality by the harsh light.
The model, Victorine Meurent, went on to become an accomplished painter in her own right."
I just realized the cat on the right is hilariously painted, I wonder if Manet was really bad at painting cats or if he was just having a laugh.