Representations of Male-to-Female Lovemaking<sup>†</sup>

J.R. Clarke

in Sex and Difference in Ancient Greece and Rome

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780748613199
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651016 | DOI:
Representations of Male-to-Female Lovemaking†

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What kind of paintings of lovemaking did the elite class enjoy? Fortunately there exist fresco paintings from this period to help us answer this question. Equally fortunate is the unusual circumstance that the literature of the period brings us several references on owning and looking at the explicit paintings of sexual intercourse. For the upper class, it is the norm, not the exception, to own and display little paintings that showed couples illustrating a variety of sexual positions. This chapter looks at frescoes from a villa in the heart of Rome itself, the Villa of the Farnesina. Painted representations of panel paintings are the building blocks of the rich decoration of the three cubicula (bedrooms) that survived. Consideration of Ovid's parva tabella at least partially answers a very important question: why would the patron want erotic paintings represented in his or her bedchambers along with other non-sexual subjects? In contrast to the Farnesina paintings, the mass-produced Arretine ceramics of the Augustan and early Julio-Claudian period show how analogous images of lovemaking found their way to poorer consumers.

Keywords: Rome; lovemaking; frescoes; panel paintings; Farnesina; Arretine ceramics; erotic paintings; cubicula; sexual intercourse; parva tabella

Chapter.  6399 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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