Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Venetian Woman with Moveable Skirt

Publisher:
Ferrando Bertelli (active Venice, 1561–71)
Date:
1563
Medium:
Engraving
Dimensions:
Sheet: 5 1/2 x 7 7/16 in. (14 x 18.9 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1955
Accession Number:
55.503.30
Not on view
Venice was famed for its many elaborately dressed and coiffed courtesans. Foreign visitors marveled at their opulent jewels and use of abundant cosmetics, while civic authorities, when not enlisting them as a deterrent to the scourge of sodomy, decried the courtesans' deliberately misleading resemblance to 'honest women.'
Capitalizing on their popularity, the enterprising Pietro Bertelli published a series of prints of courtesans, each with a flap that lifted to reveal, below a seemingly innocent exterior, a glimpse of the carnal pleasures for which Venice was famed by its admirers and reviled by its detractors. Here, the flap is the skirt, that can be lifted to display the courtesan's undergarments and chopines (the platform shoes that Venetian ladies wore to keep their feet dry in the perpetually damp lagoon city). These clever and amusing works appropriate the conceit of voyeurism prevalent in erotic imagery and prose. Here, the voyeur is not merely a passive observer but a physically engaged participant whose intervention is required for the salacious content to be exposed.
Related Objects

Bacchanal with a Wine Vat

Artist: Andrea Mantegna (Italian, Isola di Carturo 1430/31–1506 Mantua) Date: ca. 1470–90 Medium: Engraving and drypoint Accession: 1986.1159 On view in:Not on view

The Adoration of the Magi

Artist: After school of Andrea Mantegna (Italian, Isola di Carturo 1430/31–1506 Mantua) Date: ca. 1475–80 Medium: Engraving Accession: 25.2.30 On view in:The Met Floor 3

The Calumny of Apelles

Artist: Giorgio Ghisi (Italian, Mantua ca. 1520–1582 Mantua) Date: 1560 Medium: Engraving; first state of six Accession: 17.50.16-120 On view in:The Met Floor 3

Baccio Bandinelli in his studio holding a statuette of Venus, students sketching from a model by candlelight

Artist: Agostino Veneziano (Agostino dei Musi) (Italian, Venice ca. 1490–after 1536 Rome) Date: 1531 Medium: Engraving Accession: 49.97.144 On view in:Gallery 690