Erotica by region  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Erotica is the representation of sexuality or nudity with artistic pretenses and the intent to arouse but without being pornographic, without causing embarrassment if viewed with several people at the same time. These pages feature internal links to erotica stemming from Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia


European erotica

European erotica

The early history of European erotica starts with ancient history, most notably Greek and Roman erotica.


Mainland Europe, especially France, Scandinavia and the Netherlands has a reputation for sexual freedom unknown in the puritanical Anglo-Saxon world.

Paris is the capital of erotic art and the Netherlands has enjoyed freedom of the press since the enlightenment era.

Many British upper class Grand Tour travellers were shocked by the sexual explicitness of the artworks they found in Europe.

An example of such outrage can be found in the writings of American author Mark Twain:

In his 1880 travelogue A Tramp Abroad Mark Twain called the Venus of Urbino 'the foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses'. He proposed that 'it was painted for a bagnio and it was probably refused because it was a trifle too strong', adding humorously that 'in truth, it is a trifle too strong for any place but a public art gallery'.

Sexual stereotypes

Casanova as Italian lover, Don Juan as Spanish lover, Faust as German lover, Byron as English lover, Abelard as French lover

European erotic literature

One striking aspect of pre-industrial European erotic literature is the preponderance of female characters. Two early 17th century French works, L'École des filles and L’Academie des Dames, were written as female dialogues — a literary device that was to be repeated many times over the next century in works such as John Cleland’s Fanny Hill and the Marquis de Sade’s Juliette.

European erotic art

In Europe, starting with the Renaissance, there was a tradition of producing erotica for the amusement of the aristocracy. In the early 16th century, the text I Modi was a woodcut album created by the designer Giulio Romano, the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi and the poet Pietro Aretino. In 1601 Caravaggio painted the "Love Triumphant," for the collection of the Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani. The latter is reputed to have kept it hidden behind a curtain to show only to his friends, as it was seen as a blatant celebration of sodomy. The tradition is continued by other, more modern painters, such as Fragonard, Courbet, Millet, Balthus, Picasso, Edgar Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Egon Schiele, who served time in jail and had several works destroyed by the authorities for offending turn-of-the-century Austrian mores with his depiction of nude young girls, and so on.

Sex and nudity in European cinema

By region

Belgian erotica, British erotica, Dutch erotica, French erotica, German erotica, Italian erotica, Scandinavian erotica

French erotica

No nation has enjoyed a greater reputation for producing and tolerating erotica --from the 17th century libertine novels to the "whore dialogues" to the original Pads edition of Joyce's Ulysses-- than France. Philosophe Denis Diderot penned an 18th-century novel featuring talking body parts, while poet Guillaume Apollinaire spiced up one of his short works with fetishism. And then there's Gay Paree, Marquis de Sade and Brigitte Bardot.

Scandinavian erotica

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Scandinavia (Sweden and Denmark in particular) was seen as an international leader in what is now referred to as the "sexual revolution", with gender equality and abolishing censorship having particularly been promoted.

British erotica

British erotica

Along with Paris, London in the second half of the 19th century was one of the first modern, urbanized societies with a literate population. Literacy is one of the prerequisites for the spreading of printed erotica and pornography. Henry Spencer Ashbee's bibliography has proven to be invaluable in documenting this period of erotic fiction.

The quintessential English erotic novel is Fanny Hill, but even Richardson's Pamela and Clarissa provided voyeuristic satisfaction to a new English audience. The development and rise of the novel as new genre, parallels the development of the erotic novel.

Even in the 17th century, when France had the reputation for erotica, and some English erotica consisted of French translations (the famous "whore dialogues") there were local authors of bawdy erotica like John Wilmot.

A special mention must go to the authors of Grub Street.

English erotica has some characteristics of its own, the most notable is that they are believed to be fond of spanking and flagellation. The French even called it Le vice anglais. Theresa Berkeley ran a brothel specializing in these services.

American erotica

American erotica, Latin American erotica

North American erotica is erotica from the USA and Canada. It is closely linked to its censorship history. This page currently holds a collection of notes and is closely related to the pages on the Sexual revolution in 1960s America. Eventually this page should be ordered chronologically.

African erotica

African erotica

Defining erotic art is difficult since perceptions of both what is erotic and what is art fluctuate. A sculpture of a phallus in some African cultures may be considered a traditional symbol of potency though not overtly erotic.

Influences on modern striptease include the dances of the Ghawazee "discovered" and seized upon by French colonists in nineteenth century North Africa and Egypt.

Asian erotica

Asian erotica
Japanese erotica, Chinese erotica, Indian erotica

Middle East

Oriental erotica
The Book of One Thousand and One Nights

See also

world culture, erotica, sex in various cultures, erotica timeline

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Erotica by region" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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