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The Erotic Drawings of Francesco Hayez [+18]

Bodies & Erotic Art

The Erotic Drawings of Francesco Hayez [+18]

The Venetian painter Francesco Hayez is considered a genius of historical romanticism. In addition to the quality and refinement of his artworks, he captured moments in which mythological, biblical, and historical characters seem to overlap with the real world and are part of a parallel universe that still charms for its realism.

Francesco Hayez, Self Portrait in a Group of Friend, 1824-27, Museo Poldi Pezzoli.

Possibly the most well-known painting of Hayez is The Kiss. The painting, which portrays a romantic and passionate (and probably secret) encounter, is one of the most beautiful kisses in art history. The artist, who was busy recording historical events and such important figures like Ferdinand I, in addition to painting biblical, mythological and, of course, literary themes, was born in 1791.  His maternal aunt’s husband soon noticed his predisposition to a drawing, and supported him by funding his drawing lessons. In 1806, only 15 years old, Hayez entered the New Academy of Fine Arts.

Hayez’s interest in the artistic nude is remarkable. Although the focus on anatomical detail was characteristic of historical romanticism, nudes stand out as a big component of Hayez’s work, since he had produced erotic drawings, less than a dozen sketches which appear to be a sort of manual for sex.


Erotic Drawings of Francesco Hayez

Francesco Hayez, Cunnilingus, or oral sex performed on a woman, date unknown, private collection.

In Cunnilingus, or oral sex performed on a woman, the idea that female pleasure was not a concern at Hayez’s time gets a little shaken. After all, the girl is the center of attention, that besides the position, also has the hand of the partner under the breast (which she reciprocates with the left hand). Her face is not finished or well portrayed, but even so, take a look at the neck that tilts slightly backward: you must know what that means …

Erotic Drawings of Francesco Hayez

Francesco Hayez, Cunnilingus, or oral sex performed on a woman, date unknown, private collection.

In another drawing of the same name, Hayez portrays the couple in the same position, but in another perspective. This angle also allows us to recognize the attention that the artist paid to human anatomy. In addition, there is a curious detail: the couple is not in a bed, but on a dais. Are we seeing a clandestine meeting? Well, even if it is, it is clear that unlike the first image, the couple could completely undress.

Francesco Hayez, Fellatio, or oral sex performed on a man, date unknown, private collection.

Still, in the “oral sex” category, the next sketch portrays Fellatio, or oral sex performed on a man, and despite the name, shows the position commonly known as 69. Eroticism is evident not only in the drawing but in the idea as well. Note that sexual intercourse does not just involve penetration – as most of us expect from the nineteenth-century sex –  it seems that the act is a mere preliminary. The positions and the behaviour of the partners suggest that they could spend a lot of time there, don’t you think?

Francesco Hayez, Mutual Masturbation, date unknown, private collection.

In Mutual Masturbation, the couple is sitting on a sofa – and it is interesting to note the dynamics of Hayez’s scenarios in these drawings. Masturbation is, as the title says, mutual, and it’s enhanced by an overwhelming kiss. Even with a few pieces of clothing, the partners are completely focused on their pleasure (although the position and location give the idea of another secret meeting).

In Sexual Intercourse, the idea of penetration is imagined. Both partners touch each other before the sexual act which is present in the drawing Overlapping Wife Back Position On The Swing, in which the woman seems to sigh and moan of pleasure while she is being kissed by the lover. The only problem with this design is the socks. Let’s face it, socks? Really? They must have been in a rush.

Francesco Hayez, Sexual Intercourse (left) and Overlapping Wife Back Position On The Swing (right), date unknown, private collection.

Most of the drawings do not have a specific date, but it is possible that they were made between the 1820s and 1830s when the painter had a relationship with Carolina Zucchi, who is portrayed in the images. The truth contained in Hayez’s drawings makes it clear that he did more than a mere technical study, but sought to record his intimate moments with the girl. Currently, all the erotic drawings of Francesco Hayez are in private collections, with four being auctioned in 2009 by Sotheby’s.

Francesco Hayez, Portrait of Carolina Zucchi, 1825, Turin City Museum of Ancient Art.

Carolina posed for a series of Hayez’s paintings as historical and mythological characters, and had a portrait painted as well. The romance between Hayez and Carolina did not, however, end well. The painter was married to another woman and Carolina fell ill, deeply saddened by the fact that she would never unite with her lover.

If you liked this article, read more about erotic art here:

Erotic Art in Pompeii and Herculaneum (NSFW!)

I Modi: History of Erotic Art (NSFW)


Someone who believes, through reading and intuition, that the history of art is the true history of humanity. In love with Renaissance art and a huge fan of the Impressionists.


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