10 Best Erotic Artworks of Old Masters – Part 1

Porn of renaissance, baroque, classicism and romanticism, which irritated the fantasies and caused controversy or outrage, is today interesting and exciting only due to its timeless beauty. These are the most beautiful and most famous nude works in the history of painting.

1. Édouard Manet, Olympia

(Musee d Orsay, Paříž, Francie)

In 1865, the Olympia caused a real turmoil in otherwise frivolous France. Victorine Meurent was standing (or rather laying) as a model of modern Venus to Monet. For her slight body, she was nicknamed La Crevette (The Shrimp). Manet´s favorite model was good in painting herself and she even exhibited her art in prestigious Parisian salons. The seductive La Crevette is known also for even more famous and scandalous painting called “The Luncheon on the Grass“.

2. Tizian, Venus of Urbino

Happy beauty, proud of her nakedness and sensuality, is one of Tizian´s greatest pieces. He took his inspiration in works of his renaissance predecessors, Michelangelo and Raffaelo. For a long time, it was a subject of many debates, to find out who is the beauty resting on the picture in such a seductive way. Tips were on Venice´s courtesans as well as duchesses. But according to art historians, the Venus of Urbino does not depict anyone specific.

3. Francisco Goya – The Nude Maja

(Museo del Prado, Madrid)

The word Maja depicted the girl of loose morals from lower classes of Spanish society and provoking by her provocative behavior and noticeable clothes. When Goya painted Maja, the tsunami of outrage was raised, especially among the catholic church. It even pushed him to the inquisition court. Church officials wanted him to cover her nudity. He refused and he painted identical painting on which the Maja is clothed. Naked Maja has, therefore, her twin – Clothed Maja.

4. Gustave Courbet, La Bacchante

(private collection of the Rau Foundation, Cologne)

Lascivious pose of Coubert´s Bacchante refers to both Greek mythology in which so-called maenads (or mads), delirious female companions of the god Dionysus (Bakcha) were organizing wild orgies and indulging ecstatic parties with centaurs, Pans, Satyrs or nymphs, and renaissance nude paintings, especially Correggio´s painting “Venus, Satyr and Amor”.

5. Luis Ricardo Falero, The Enchantress or Egyptian dancer

(private collection)

Spanish artist Luis Ricardo Falero, Duke of Labranzano, was specialized in mythological, oriental and fantasy motives. He was able to work the magic of naked bodies belonging to witches preparing for sabbath or Faust´s obscene dreams. His dreams were deeply pervaded by an interest in astronomy and female beauty, to which he attributed magical and a little bit dangerous effect.

Arabian writings on the painting mean „He who took drugs, the intoxication of death made this truth appear“. It is a paraphrase of one verse from the Quran. However, it is different: „And the intoxication of death will bring the truth; that is what you were trying to avoid “. Falero left the last words out, and added „drugs“. With this, he changed the meaning of the verse completely.

6. Joseph Lefebvre, Odalisque

French painter, educator and theoretician Joseph Lefebvre painted beautiful women, both naked and clothed. Odalisque, who stimulated his fantasy and forced him to create, is sprawling in the sultan´s palace and resting. Odalisks were slavegirls serving to sultan´s wives. The term comes from the Turkish word „odalik“, which means chambermaid. If she was able to sing, dance and have sex, she could become a concubine. A lot of them worked in a harem and if they proved their abilities or gave birth to a son, they could even become one of the sultan´s wives.

7. Diego Velazquez, The Toilet of Venus

The baroque equivalent of Playboy poster and the sexiest butt of western art – it is the famous painting of Rokeby Venus or The Toilet of Venus. It became famous also because of a brutal attack on the art. Venus with the dream body was cut in two, with the butcher´s knife. The attacker on Velazquez´s 17th-century masterpiece was Mary Richardson, the suffragette who damaged the famous painting in 1914. Richardson was Canadian by her origin and she was not jealous on Venus´ beauty. With her action, she wanted to draw attention to police treatment of suffragette movement´s chief, Emmeline Pankhurst. This lady declared that it is legitimate to attack the state property when needed to achieve the goals of the movement. Mary Richardson, nicknamed Butcher Mary, spent 6 months in jail because of her action.

8. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Bathers

The Bathers painting is not impressionist at first sight, but still, it retains fleeting moment when one of the bathing beauties playfully threatens the other to splash her with water. The almost sculptural portrayal of bodies and sparkling country reflects the tradition of French art of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Renoir worked on this painting for three years. Only after that time, he was satisfied with it. The preparatory work involved two fully-fledged paintings of models and many preparatory paintings for all figures. Instead of appreciation, he has got harsh criticism for the change of his style. Renoir was turned down and promised himself that he won´t dedicate such a time to any of his future works.

9. Paul Gauguin, Te Arii Vahine or King´s Wife

Paul Gauguin was almost obsessed with Eduard Manet´s Olympia (see above). He had a copy with him all the time. In all his works, he paraphrased Olympia many times. However, as an only clean portrayal of ideal version of female beauty, he considered his own Black Olympia, known also as Te Arij Vahine, King´s Wife or Woman with Mangos, which he painted in 1896, in a year when his syphilis fully erupted. All the others, with Manet´s Olympia at the cutting edge, were too obscene for him. He experienced a similar 180-degree u-turn with love to his own wife. First, he loved her, then hated her.

The position of the red color is equally bizarre. Gaugin used it on the same places where Jack the Ripper put organs of one of his victims – Mary Jane Kelly (under the head, on the sides, and to her legs).

10. John Collier, Lady Godiva

Lady Godiva, wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, and due to a legend, she freed the city of Coventry from the fine which could ruin it. Her husband wanted it from the city officials, and it was his condition that Godiva will go through the city, naked, clothed only in her beautiful, long red hair. All thepeople of Coventry had to stay at their homes and were forbidden to look at her. Both sides kept their promises. Citizens of Coventry stayed behind the walls of their homes, spared Godiva the feeling of embarrassment and her husband lowered their taxes. Later, the Peeping Tom, who looked at her and turned blind, was added to the legend.

This legend calls for its artistic impression. John Collier handled it in a very suggestive way. Several riding sculptures were made as well. One of those is right in the center of Coventry. As the Prague citizens have their St. Wenceslas, people of Coventry have a naked bronze heroine.

Text: Black Mamba


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