Images of Sex and Desire in Renaissance Art and Modern Historiography: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Images of Sex and Desire in Renaissance Art and Modern Historiography

1st Edition

Edited by Angeliki Pollali, Berthold Hub


258 pages

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Paperback: 9780367432829
pub: 2019-11-09
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 9th November 2019
Hardback: 9781138054240
pub: 2017-12-13
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315098005
pub: 2017-12-06
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Studies on gender and sexuality have proliferated in the last decades, covering a wide spectrum of disciplines. This collection of essays offers a metanarrative of sexuality as it has been recently embedded in the art historical discourse of the European Renaissance. It revisits ‘canonical’ forms of visual culture, such as painting, sculpture and a number of emblematic manuscripts. The contributors focus on one image—either actual or thematic—and examine it against its historiographic assumptions. Through the use of interdisciplinary approaches, the essays propose to unmask the ideology(ies) of representation of sexuality and suggest a richer image of the ever-shifting identities of gender. The collection focuses on the Italian Renaissance, but also includes case studies from Germany and France.


"Revolving around notions of Lacanian desire, this provocative volume aims to expand our understanding of the relationship between sexuality and visual culture. The twelve essays assembled here, paying careful attention to historiography, deconstruct a multitude of myths and ideologies in order to advance a more nuanced sense of self and desire. This innovative collection will make a significant contribution to the fields of art history, gender and sexuality studies, and literary theory."

- Allison Levy, author of Sex Acts in Early Modern Italy (Routledge, 2010)

Table of Contents


[Angeliki Pollali]

Part I: The Politics of Desire: Stereotypes and Ambiguity of Gender Identity

1. Body Language in Dürer’s Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand Christians

[Linda C. Hults]

2. Hilarious Homoeroticism, or the Renaissance of Stereotypes in Filarete’s Bronze Doors for St. Peter’s

[Peter Bell]

3. Carnal Desire and Conflicted Sexual Identity in a ‘Dominican’ Chapel

[Robin O’Bryan]

4. Mirror Effects: The Narcissus Emblem in Scève’s Délie

[Nancy M. Frelick]

Part II: Mechanisms for Actualizing Desire: From Seduction to ‘Postcoital Man’

5. Who is to Blame? Representing Adultery in Early Modern Books: Alciato, Aneau, Brant, Ripa

[Sabine Engel]

6. Cupid and the Bear: Emblems of Creation and Images of Seduction in Sixteenth-Century Art Writing and Love Imagery

[Romana Sammern]

7. The Power of Women and the Postcoital Man

[Tatiana C. String]

8. The Double Strike: A Psychoanalytic Reading of Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes

[Angeliki Pollali]

Part III: Beyond the ‘Pleasure Principle’ or the Polysemy of Desire

9 Violence and Desire: Fetishist Impulses and Violence against the Female Body in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

[Liliana Leopardi]

10. Drunkenness, Sex and Desire in Titian’s Bacchanal of the Andrians

[François Quiviger]

11. Pollution and Desire in Hans Baldung Grien: The Abject, Erotic Spell of the Witch and Dragon

[Yvonne Owens]

12. Gabrielle d’Estrées et l’une de ses Soeurs and the Pleasures of Proliferative Criticism

[Katherine Crawford]

About the Editors

Angeliki Pollali is Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Art History at Deree—The American College of Greece.

Berthold Hub is fellow of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz (Max-Planck-Institut) and lecturer at the University of Vienna.

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.


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General
ART / European
ART / History / Renaissance
ART / Art & Politics
ART / Subjects & Themes / Erotica
HISTORY / Europe / General
HISTORY / Europe / France
HISTORY / Europe / Germany
HISTORY / Europe / Italy
HISTORY / Renaissance
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Men's Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies