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Venetian courtesans


Titian’s Flora depicts a young, fair-skinned and fair-haired woman dressed in a diaphanous white camicia, an undergarment commonly worn by Renaissance women. Some, basing for example to inscriptions added to the 16th century reproductions, identifies the woman as a courtesan, other consider it a symbol of nuptial love

Courtesans out in public

If you look under the skirt of a courtesan, you can see men’s breeches. There are several versions Venetian fascination with erotic play with gendered clothing

Version 1

Viewers might have found it thrilling to see an attractive woman in male garments, especially knowing that a womanly body was concealed beneath

Version 2

it is possible that men may have visited courtesans specifically to engage in anal sex. Through costume and play-acting, the courtesan could create the illusion that she could be either man or woman, or even both simultaneously.

How much did the Venetian courtesans cost?

The courtesan was richly attired and lived in a respectable street; …

she received her admirers and paid “visits” to important personages.

Accompanied by her serving women or, on occasion, followed by a matronly lady’s maid on her way to a sermon or a respectable inn, nothing in her bearing set her apart from a woman of estate. She was untouched by the violence of the young because she enjoyed effective protection

In 1535 was published the pamphlet entitled “The tariff of the whores of Venice”

In this text, the nobleman tells the traveler about the activities of all the courtesans in the city, giving specific descriptions of their beauty, praising them for their skill, indicating their prices.

The money that is mentioned in the catalog – scudo.

1 sсudo – a builder’s salary for five days.

The surgeon’s monthly salary was 8 scudi.

Thus, if the surgeon wanted to visit Veronica Franco (on the photo), he would have to work for more than six months. Meeting her cost 50 scudi.

Tullia d’Aragona – Italian poet, author and philosopher. In 1531, she became involved with Filippo Strozzi, a Florentine banking magnate. Strozzi became so enamored with d’Aragona that he shared state secrets with her and had to be recalled to Florence. Other lovers included Emilio Orsini, who founded a Tullia Society of six cavaliers who protected her honor. (Wikipedia)

Tullia d’Aragona is mentioned in “Tariff” as follows: “dieci scudi nell’anello..e cinque in potta”. It means that for anal sex with her you had to pay 10 scudi and 5 for regular


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