From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
I Modi (The Ways) also known as The Sixteen Pleasures or under the Latin title De omnibus Veneris Schematibus, is a famous, essentially lost collection of erotic engravings of the Italian Renaissance, first published in 1524 by Marcantonio Raimondi. I Modi were then published a second time in 1527, now with the poems that have given them the traditional English title Aretino's Postures, making this the first time erotic text and images were combined.
It is an illustrated book of 16 "postures" or sexual positions. Raimondi had published the I Modi once before, and was subsequently imprisoned by the Pope Clement VII and all copies of the illustrations were destroyed. Raimondi based the engravings on a series of erotic paintings that Giulio Romano was doing as a commission for the Palazzo del Te in Mantua. Though the two depictions were very similar, only Raimondi was prosecuted because his engravings were capable of being seen by the public. Romano did not know of the engravings until Aretino came to see the original paintings while Romano was still working on them. Aretino then composed sixteen explicit 'sonetti lussuriosi' ("both in your pussy and your behind, my cock will make me happy, and you happy and blissful") to go with the paintings and secured Raimondi's release from prison. The I Modi was then published a second time, with the poems and the pictures, making this the first time erotic text and images were combined, though the papacy once more seized all the copies it could find. Raimondi escaped prison that time, but the censorship was so complete that no original copies have ever been found. The text in existence is only a copy of a copy that was discovered 400 years later.
The original edition was created by the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi (basing his sixteen images of sexual positions on a series of erotic paintings that Giulio Romano was doing as a commission for Federico II Gonzaga’s new Palazzo Te in Mantua). The engravings were published by Raimondi in 1524, and led to his imprisonment by Pope Clement VII and the destruction of all copies of the illustrations. Romano did not become aware of the engravings until the poet Pietro Aretino came to see the original paintings while Romano was still working on them. Romano was not prosecuted since—unlike Raimondi—his images were not intended for public consumption.) Aretino then composed sixteen explicit 'sonetti lussuriosi' to accompany the paintings/engravings, and secured Raimondi’s release from prison.
I Modi were then published a second time in 1527, now with the poems that have given them the traditional English title Aretino's Postures, making this the first time erotic text and images were combined, though the papacy once more seized all the copies it could find. Raimondi escaped prison on this occasion, but the suppression on both occasions was comprehensive. No original copies of this edition have survived, with the exception of a few fragments in the British Museum, and two copies of posture 1. A, possibly pirated copy with crude illustrations in woodcut, printed in Venice in 1550, bound in with some contemporary texts was discovered in the 1920s, containing fifteen of the sixteen postures.
Despite the seeming loss of Raimondi’s originals today, it seems certain that at least one full set survived, since both the 1550 woodcuts and the so-called Caracci suite of prints (see below) agree in every compositional and stylistic respect with those fragments that have survived. Certainly, unless the engraver of the Caracci edition had access to the British Museum’s fragments, and reconstructed his compositions from them, the similarities are too close to be accidental. In the seventeenth century, certain Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford, engaged in the surreptitious printing at the University Press of Aretine's Postures, Aretino's De omnis Veneris schematibus and the indecent engravings after Giulio Romano. The Dean, Dr. John Fell, imponded the copper plates and threatened the youths with expulsion. The text of Aretino’s sonnets, however, survives.
- I Modi fragments
- Woodblock edition of I Modi (c. 1527)
- Waldeck edition of I Modi Jean-Frédéric Waldeck (1850s)
- L'Aretin d'Augustin Carrache (1798)