Eroticism and Female Imagery in Nineteenth Century Art

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Eroticism and Female Imagery in Nineteenth-Century Art

When comparing erotic material of today from that of the nineteenth century, they are placed at either ends of the spectrum. In today's world, almost everything is sold by sex appeal. Sex is not a clandestine topic anymore, like it was in the nineteenth century. When looking into the subject matter of erotic imagery, the main difference is the erotic material that is for men versus women. In Linda Nochlin's essay, "Eroticism and Female Imagery in Nineteenth-Century Art," she makes many points on how erotic imagery of that time was merely for men's enjoyment, and not for women. This essay not only explains how mostly all of exotic imagery was meant for men, Nochlin takes it a step further to show how women were not even meant to dream of anything erotic. Through examples, quotes and comparisons, Nochlin is able to prove her claims thoroughly and comprehensively.

The essay was written in order to show how erotic images were used and created in the nineteenth century. Paintings and photographs intertwining metaphorical reasoning, allowed men to enjoy a woman's body in the privacy of their own home. Nochlin states that "'erotic art' is understood to imply the specification ‘erotic-for-men.'" Meaning erotic images and men go collectively with one another. The article points out reasons why there were no images meant for women's enjoyment as well as stating that women were not suppose to even think in an erotic way. Painted lesbian scenes were not meant for women to enjoy. Instead, they were custom painted for a man to enjoy. For example, Nochlin points out the painting, "Sleep," which was painted by Courbet for a Turkish ambassador, Khalil Bey. The painting is of two women enjoying each other's company on a bed fully in the nude. These types of paintings are what bring up questions in favor of the women. Question such as: Why are there no exotic images for women? Has this changed at all...
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