Oct 26, 2012

History of Victorian Erotic Photography

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By Irene Forde

Translation: Ana Harff

The exposure of the body through images of the nude was one of the most controversial issues in Victorian art. Nudes were presented not only in painting and sculpture, but also popular illustration, and photography, fuelling intense debates about the relationship between art and public morals. Pictures of nude women prior to 1835 generally consisted of paintings and drawings which were displayed in all respectability on the walls of art galleries and in country houses. 

When the new technology of photography appeared around 1835 it was quickly taken up by artists, eager for new ways to illustrate the undraped feminine form.In the moral climate of the 19th century the only officially sanctioned photography of the body was for the production of artist's studies. Erotica in the 19th and early 20th century took the form of literature, photography, sculpture and paintings, which dealt substantively with erotically stimulating or arousing descriptions. 



Some photographers often hired burlesque actresses as models for nude and semi-nude photographs. The French did a roaring trade selling erotic 'postcards' to American tourists. These would now be termed soft-core, but they were quite shocking for the time. The Victorian pornographic tradition in Britain had three main elements: French photographs, erotic prints (sold in shops in Holywell Street, a long vanished London thoroughfare, swept away by the Aldwych), and printed literature. 

The ability to reproduce photographs in bulk assisted the rise of a new business individual, the porn dealer. Many of these dealers took advantage of the postal system to send out photographic cards in plain wrappings to their subscribers. Later on publications masquerading as "art magazines" celebrated the new cult of naturism, with titles such as Photo Bits, Body in Art, Figure Photography, Nude Living and Modern Art for Men. In truth, many of these Victorian photographic images of nudes are beautiful and have an innocence about them which could not be claimed of today's Playboy centre-fold. 


Irene Forde is a writer and publisher of Art & Craft publications. 6,600 Victorian images on CD at my website which is at http://www.victorian-erotica.com







PORTUGUÊS

A exposição do corpo através de imagens de nudez foi uma das questões mais controversas na arte vitoriana. Os nus foram apresentados não só na pintura e na escultura, mas também nas ilustrações populares e fotografias, alimentando intensos debates sobre a relação entre a arte e a moral pública. Fotos de mulheres nuas anteriores a 1835 geralmente consistia em pinturas e desenhos que foram exibidos com toda respeitabilidade nas paredes de galerias de arte e em casas de campo.




Quando a nova tecnologia de fotografia apareceu por volta de 1835 foi rapidamente tomado por artistas, ansiosos por novas maneiras de ilustrar as formas femininas. No clima moral do século 19, as únicas fotografias do corpo só sancionadas oficialmente eram para a produção de estudos artísticos. A erótica no século 19 e início do 20 tomou forma na literatura, fotografia, escultura e pintura, que usaram substancialmente estimulantes eróticos e/ou descrições excitantes.


Alguns fotógrafos muitas vezes contratavam atrizes burlescas como modelos para fotos nuas e seminuas. França fez um grande sucesso vendendo 'cartões postais' eróticos para turistas americanos. Os mesmos seriam atualmente moderados, mas para a época eram muito chocantes. A tradição pornográfica vitoriana na Grã-Bretanha tinha três elementos principais: fotografias francesas, gravuras eróticas (vendidas em lojas na Holywell Street, uma rua há muito desaparecida em Londres, varrida pela Aldwych), e material impresso.

A capacidade de reproduzir fotografias em massa ajudaram a ascensão de um novo indivíduo no negócio, o comerciante pornô (porn dealer em inglês). Muitos desses comerciantes aproveitaram o sistema postal para enviar cartões fotográficos em embalagens simples para seus assinantes.


Mais tarde, em publicações que aparecem como "revistas de arte", comemoravam o novo culto do naturismo, com títulos como Fotos Bits, Corpo na Arte, Fotografia em Figura, Nudez Viva e Arte Moderna para Homens. Na verdade, muitas destas imagens de nus fotográficos vitorianas são lindas e possuem sobre elas uma inocência que não poderia ser reivindicadas por capas da Playboy de hoje.


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