Early modern erotica
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Early modern erotica is erotica produced in Early modern Europe. It starts with the Pietro Aretino and the Carraccis and ends with Marquis de Sade, the first secret museum and "Le Dieu Priape" by Jean-Jacques Lequeu.
16th century: The Renaissance
In Europe, starting with the Renaissance, a tradition of producing erotica for the amusement of the aristocracy started, which had been virtually unknown during medieval times. The invention of the printing press led to the first mass-produced texts of erotica (Pietro Aretino) and the rise of print culture saw mass-produced erotic prints by the likes of Agostino Carracci in Italy and Hans Sebald Beham in the North. The era was preceded by Medieval erotica and succeeded by 17th century erotica.
With a growing public sphere, it was only natural that censorship would increase. Thus we see the first Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the engraver of I Modi was imprisoned, the first book burnings took place and the fig leaf was introduced.
- Outside of France, working for the ducs of Lorraine, one finds a very different late mannerist style in the artists Jacques Bellange, Claude Deruet and Jacques Callot. Having little contact with the French artists of the period, they developed a heightened, extreme, and often erotic mannerism (including night scenes and nightmare images), and excellent skill in engraving.
In the 17th century, three works of erotic fiction, the so-called whore dialogues L'École des filles (1655), Satyra Sotadica (1659) and Vénus dans le Cloître (1683) mark the shift in European erotica from Italy to France. In painting and sculpture, mythological painting was continued by Poussin in his early period with works such as Venus (or a Nymph) Spied On by Satyrs. A trend towards erotic realism was present in the work of Rembrandt, most notably in prints such as Ledikant.
The 18th century saw a veritable barrage of imagery and writings now considered erotic or pornographic. It is the age of the Enlightenment, Rococo, Neoclassicism, the discovery of Pompeii and the Herculaneum, rising feminism, Romanticism in England, sodomitical subcultures in European metropoli, the dandy, the French Revolution, Fanny Hill, Casanova and the Marquis de Sade. The terms pornography and erotica were not yet attested in the English language, but French writer Restif de la Bretonne had already used the term pornography in his 1769 work Le Pornographe.
The discovery of the erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum led to a radical reappraisal of the classics and engendered the first secret museums, the magnitude of erotic writing similarly saw the arrival of the private case.
Sir William Hamilton, Charles Townley, Richard Payne Knight, Vivant Denon, Baron d'Hancarville were the first to show an interest in the phallic worship of ancient erotica. In print, this resulted in the fanciful Veneres et Priapi, uti observantur in gemmis antiquis (1771, d'Hancarville), The Worship of Priapus (1786, Knight) and L'Oeuvre priapique (1793, Vivant Denon).
Gabriele Falloppio (1523 - October 9, 1562), often known by his Latin name Fallopius, was one of the most important anatomists and physicians of the sixteenth century, author of Observationes Anatomicae.
Realdo Columbo published his only work, De Re Anatomica, in 1559 shortly before his death. Many of the contributions made in De Re Anatomica overlapped the discoveries of Gabriel Falloppio, most notably the discovery of the clitoris.
Martin Schurig (1656–1733) was the first physician to occupy himself with the anatomy of the sexual organs. He is known for his Spermatologia Historico-Medica, often known simply as Spermatologia, published in 1720.
In 1760, Samuel-Auguste Tissot published L'Onanisme, his own comprehensive medical treatise on the purported ill-effects of masturbation. Citing case studies of young male masturbators amongst his patients in Lausanne, Switzerland as basis for his reasoning, Tissot argued that semen was an "essential oil" and "stimulus" that, when lost from the body in great amounts, would cause "a perceptible reduction of strength, of memory and even of reason; blurred vision, all the nervous disorders, all types of gout and rheumatism, weakening of the organs of generation, blood in the urine, disturbance of the appetite, headaches and a great number of other disorders."
- Romanticism, Materialism, and the Origins of Modern Pornography
- Schooling Sex
- Invention of Pornography: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity, 1500–1800
- The Reinvention of Obscenity
- The Body in Parts: Fantasies of Corporeality in Early Modern Europe
- Before Pornography