Erotic Cultures of Renaissance Italy: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Erotic Cultures of Renaissance Italy

1st Edition

Edited by Sara F. Matthews-Grieco


330 pages

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Paperback: 9781138265578
pub: 2017-03-31
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pub: 2010-05-24
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Concentrating largely on the 'middle ranks' of society in Renaissance Italy - artisans, merchants, and professionals such as bankers and lawyers - this book focuses on new social subjects, new documents and unusual objects. Using innovative methods of inquiry and interdisciplinary analytical tools, contributors explore a little-known but pervasive erotic culture in which sexually explicit artefacts, games and gestures were considered essential to a number of rituals and social occasions. At the same time, they demonstrate how a burgeoning market for erotica, along with a cultural tradition of allusion and innuendo, played an increasingly important role in the Italian peninsula between the fifteenth and early seventeenth centuries. This volume fills some pervasive lacunae in both Renaissance studies and the history of sexuality through a series of critical engagements with material culture and social custom. It reflects recent scholarly interest in interdisciplinary areas such as the material Renaissance, visual communications, urban sociability in the domestic context, and court records regarding marital disputes.


'Erotic Cultures of Renaissance Italy is a wonderful book: original, engaging, well-written and well-researched. An interdisciplinary volume, it will appeal to a broad range of scholars not only in the field of Renaissance studies, but also in the history of sexuality.' Diane Wolfthal, Rice University, USA

’Ashgate, a press remarkable for the high seriousness of its scholarly publications, has with Erotic Cultures of Renaissance Italy and Sex Acts in early Modern Italy stormed the citadel of all who blindly refuse to acknowledge that the Italian Renaissance in its maturity was driven as much by sex as by religion and politics. Both should compulsorily be read by every intending student of art history.’ Brian Sewell, London Evening Standard

'This is a book chockfull of stimulating tidbits, fascinating perspectives, innovative analogies, and smart cultural takes. Some of the essays, such as Cristellon's on shifting marriage conventions and civic laws in Venice or Matthews-Grieco's on the two-tiered markets for erotic paintings, are so brilliantly executed and finely argued that they should become required readings in any course on early modern social and material culture.' American Historical Review

'… this volume provides an engaging, interdisciplinary look at a hitherto all-too-concealed area of Renaissance Italian Culture.' Sixteenth Century Journal

'This collection of essays brings together new research on various aspects of sexuality in Italian Renaissance culture, including some fascinating, unexpected (and sometimes very funny) primary source material.' English Historical Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: hunting for birds in the Italian Renaissance, Guido Ruggiero; Part I Visual Testimony and Verbal Games; Satyrs and sausages: erotic strategies and the print market in cinquecento Italy, Sara F. Matthews-Grieco; The erotic fantasies of a model clerk: amateur pornography at the beginning of the cinquecento, Guido A. Guerzoni; From roosters to cocks: Italian Renaissance fowl and sexuality, Allen J. Grieco; The spirit is ready but the flesh is tired: erotic objects and marriage in early modern Italy, Marta Ajmar-Wollheim. Part II Ritual Eroticism and Sociability: Public display of affection: the making of marriage in the Venetian courts before the Council of Trent (1420-1545), Cecilia Cristellon; Mail humour and male sociability: sexual innuendo in the epistolary domain of Francesco II Gonzaga, Molly Bourne; Unlocking the gates of chastity: music and the erotic in the domestic sphere in 15th- and 16th-century Italy, Flora Dennis; Coutesan culture: manhood, honour and sociability, Tessa Storey; Index.

About the Editor

Sara F. Matthews-Grieco is Professor of History and Co-ordinator of Women's & Gender Studies at Syracuse University in Florence, Italy.

About the Series

Visual Culture in Early Modernity

A forum for the critical inquiry of the visual arts in the early modern world, Visual Culture in Early Modernity promotes new models of inquiry and new narratives of early modern art and its history. We welcome proposals for both monographs and essay collections that consider the cultural production and reception of images and objects. The range of topics covered in this series includes, but is not limited to, painting, sculpture and architecture as well as material objects, such as domestic furnishings, religious and/or ritual accessories, costume, scientific/medical apparata, erotica, ephemera and printed matter. We seek innovative investigations of western and non-western visual culture produced between 1400 and 1800.


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / General
ART / History / General