Sex and the City: Courtesans and Cocottes

Prostitutes have been used as muses and models by artists throughout art history. In 16th century Venice courtesans were frequently depicted as luscious nudes reclining as Venuses or scantily clad Floras. These depictions served as advertisements for the charms of the most successful courtesans of Europe. In 19th century Paris, prostitutes were a key subject for artists, painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and most famously by Manet.

This talk looks at the many different depictions of prostitution from Titian’s seductive women to Ingres’ sensual odalisques. It examines how the role of prostitution has been idealised, glamorised and brought to public attention through art.