Eros Visible Art, Sexuality and Antiquity in Renaissance Italy James Grantham Turner

Publication date:
03 Oct 2017
Yale University Press
464 pages: 279 x 216mm
340 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Focusing on the impact of the erotic revolution that swept through 16th-century Italy, Eros Visible presents a compendious, revisionist account of High Renaissance art. Through close visual analysis of artworks and careful reading of related texts, James Grantham Turner demonstrates the surprisingly close connection between explicitly pornographic art and the canonical works of masters such as Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Full of new discoveries, this volume explores the passionate response to antiquity and how a new sex-positive philosophy not only encouraged an increased accentuation of sensual and erotic themes in art, but influenced the sexual cultures of both the court and the art studio. With an interdisciplinary approach that draws on a wide array of visual and textual erotica, Turner offers the first broad, synthetic history of the classically inspired and unambiguously lascivious sensibilities behind some of the most sublime artistic achievements of the Renaissance.

James Grantham Turner is the James D. Hart Chair in English at the University of California, Berkeley.

"The project of Turner's Eros Visible makes it one of the most important publications on Italian Renaissance art in recent years...The author develops two great guiding theories, on a wealth of subject areas and pictorial examples, for which he presents some fundamentally new interpretations, taking into account drawings, engravings, paintings, frescoes and sculptures."—Ulrich Pfisterer, Kunstform

“This thoughtful and provocative study is a major contribution to the analysis of erotic subjects in sixteenth-century Italy...Turner is prodigious in the analysis of imagery, with a remarkable grasp of the material. He is an astute observer, who backs up his arguments with myriad observations and comparisons...Turner is masterful in the precise territory he has chosen to occupy.” —Charles Robertson, The Burlington Magazine

“One of this book’s many strengths is its insistence on offering a comprehensive mapping of the period, on finding connections among artists and writers and across media, and, most importantly, on breaking down the hierarchy between high art, or canonical works, and pornography”— Allison Levy, Art History Journal

"Eros Visible is one of the most impressive books on Italian Renaissance culture to appear in many years. It is a massively researched, deeply erudite, highly original, and very entertaining meditation on "art, sexuality, and antiquity in Renaissance Italy"...It is not merely to be read but to be savored for its wit and numerous acute visual insights...Eros Visible will come to be, I am confident, a sturdy foundation for all future studies of Renaissance erotica seen in a broad context."—Paul Barolsky, Renaissance Quarterly

"Turner’s book is a worthy addition to the growing corpus of interdisciplinary studies on Renaissance erotic art. His prose is fluid and often witty, and the whole volume is sumptuously illustrated...His study will undoubtedly serve as an important reference for those interested in further investigating any aspect of Italian Renaissance erotica."—Hérica Valladares, Print Quarterly