The Italian Almanac

erotic art

Italian Art - September 30

The amorous adventures of lustful ancient Greek and Roman gods will take centre stage at a major exhibition opening soon. The show features 213 works from Italian and foreign museums and private collections which, in the words of national daily Corriere della Sera, will turn Florence's Palazzo Pitti into "the world's most intriguing porn shop." Mythologica et Erotica (Mythology and Eroticism) opens on Sunday at Palazzo Pitti's Museo degli Argenti (Silver Museum) and runs until May 15 2006.

The range of works on display will be remarkably wide with rare paintings, murals, sculptures, ceramics, prints, pieces of jewellery, coins and various other precious items - all depicting erotic stories from ancient mythology. Some of the works actually date back to ancient times. These include a huge first-century AD silver cup from Pompeii showing the love affairs of Venus and Mars and a stunning second-century reclining nude in marble entitled Sleeping Hermaphrodite.

Most of the exhibits, however, were created between the Renaissance - when renewed interest in classical culture brought mythology back onto the art agenda - and the 18th century. Organizers said the idea for the exhibition came when they were thinking of ways to exploit the museum's rich collection of jewellery and cameos. They realized that many of these pieces - which once belonged to the powerful Medici family - portray erotic scenes from mythology. So they decided to make this the show's central theme.

Tickets for Mythologica et Erotica cost six euros and also allow visitors to enter Palazzo Pitti's Porcelain Museum and acclaimed Boboli Gardens.