Agostino Carracci’s Erotica

Agostino Carracci, Italian Late Renaissance/Early Baroque painter, was born on the 6th of August 1557 and died on the 22nd March, 1602. One of the main aims of this article, initially, was to raise interest in this little-known artist. Since first posting this in March, however, some things have changed. I’ll address that later on.

“The Penitent Magdalene:”

"The Penitent Magdalene."

Here is “The Penitent Magdalene.” Image: Web Gallery of Art.

The Last Communion of St Jerome

As I stated earlier, he drew beautiful drawings depicting the joy and pleasure of human love, generally involving important figures from mythology such as Mars (Ares) the God of War and Aphrodite. These drawings are skilfully done with great precision.

I thought it would be interesting to show the kind of art that was around in the early 1600s, which helps to show the kind of physical appearance that was sexually alluring. Very different to what is generally considered attractive today! All images are from Wikimedia Commons, and I have been instructed to remove the link.

Instructed, you ask? Why yes, I received an email stating that the ads on my site were going to be taken down by Google Adsense because I was in violation of the terms due to the sexual content of the images:

“Violation: Google ads may not be placed on adult or mature content. This includes any site which contains:

full nudity
pornographic images, videos, or games
pornographic cartoons or anime (hentai/ecchi)
Action required: Please make changes to your site within 72 hours. Please be aware that if changes are not made within the required time frame, ad serving will be disabled to the affected website listed above.”

What a load of rubbish. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very much against Internet pornography. I do not believe these drawings are pornographic, they are historical art and of historic value.

This is a history website, these images are not out of place, they are perfectly suitable for being shown here as they demonstrate one part of this artist’s work. Needless to say, I was very upset about this.

Sadly, in order to appease the blatant hypocrisy of those in power who allow gratuitous hyper-sexualised content from Vevo, etc, (targeted to youth) and yet cannot allow tasteful historic art which is appropriate to the overall theme of this website (targeted to adults), I have covered up the offending images and stopped the ads from appearing on this article.

Yes! The images are covered up just like the damnable Victorians covered up nudity on ancient works of art with their silly fig leaves!

I think my site should be able to have content relating to ALL aspects of 17th Century life! How dare Google call this “pornography”? It isn’t – it is historically relevant art from my specialist area! I’ll be damned if I let them say it shouldn’t be on this site.

The past was not all pretty dresses and fairy tales, it was about everything in life – including copulation, which is as natural as birth, death, eating, urinating and defecating. Egads! If Google thought this was bad, they had better avoid my forthcoming book about the Duke of Monmouth! 😉

Even those inclined to be prudish shall no longer be shocked at the following images, for they have been dealt with as instructed. I think Carracci’s work, particularly his sketches and drawings, are very accomplished and it is for this reason do I feel that I will keep them on show.

Forgive me, I digress. Onto the engravings!

Paris et Oenone: First, we have Paris of Troy with his wife, Oenone. Paris, of course, later abandoned Oenone when he became besotted by Helen of Sparta, thus beginning the ten-year-long Trojan War. Gosh, I love Homer:


Jupiter et Juno: Next, we have the king and queen of the Gods – Jupiter (Zeus) and Juno (Hera). These mythological figures were often sparring with each other, as Juno was rightly angered and jealous about Zeus’s constant philandering:Carracci_Jupiter_et_Junon

Mars et Venus: Now, the ever-popular Goddess of Love and Beauty, Aphrodite (Venus) and her warrior lover, Ares (Mars) the God of War. Aphrodite was married to the hunchbacked blacksmith Hephaestus. Look at how Carracci depicts how Ares has thrown his armour down to give in to the joys of passion. I love how Carracci formed the musculature of his male figures, whilst retaining the soft flesh of the females:CaracciMarsVenus

Achille et Briseis: Last, we have an image of Achilles and his love, Briseis. Now, if you’ve read Homer’s The Iliad (which I hope you have) you’ll know that Briseis was a princess whom Achilles took as war booty and fell in love with. I want you to see not only a couple in an intimate pose, but the detail of the engraving. Look at the perspective Carracci has done – something not often found in art from his period. Note the folds of the bed curtains and the creases of the mattress. It is very well done:Carracci_Achille_et_Briseis

I know, I know, I’ve been a little immature, but I was, and am, upset about this. When you look at the whole site, this is just a tiny portion of the content.

Anyway, the point was for you to view Carracci’s work, and I hope you were able to enjoy the little you were able to see here.

For more works by Carracci, check out:

1) The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Omnia vincit Amor, 1599.
2) The National Gallery, London’s page of Carracci works.

Hear ye! 3 thoughts — so far — on “Agostino Carracci’s Erotica”:

  1. thegeorgiangentleman

    I am fascinated by the somewhat later pornographic drawings by Thomas Rowlandson . especially “Love on a Bicycle” which was done a hundred years before bikes were invented! It just shows how fertile the male imagination is when it came to pornography!

  2. Susan Johnson

    Andrea, firstly, this is a sad commentary on Google, AdSence and life in the 21st century … and you are quite right. Is there any way to protest this ruling? And did the ruling say how much of the picture had to be obliterated, because these are much larger blips than are necessary. Secondly, I saw the original post a month ago (before censorship), and have been meditating on the quality of the artwork and wondering how it was distributed originally … was it like the Karma Sutra in India, and widely distributed for educational purposes … or were the etchings were sold by the artist to wealthy porn collectors? Maybe the pope commissioned them for private distribution? Thirdly, any idea of the reaction of the authorities at the time? Did the Google of the day tell him to stop?

  3. Peter George Morffew

    I am so glad you have commented on Googles outrageous approach to art and comparing it with contemporary pornography. At the same time published the prints with the absurd cover up’s. When you reflect on this attitude to art by Google you soon realise several classical artists cannot be shown in the internet via Google. These include Titian, Goya and Raphael to name a few. Not forgetting a number of French courtier artists.
    Coming forward to the present day would this include paintings by artists such as Russell Flint and heaven forbid Picasso.
    Allowing philistines loose on determining what is art and pornography is beyond belief.


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