Angels in the Flesh: Courtesans and Culture in Renaissance Italy

Why were the intellectual courtesans – whose art consisted primarily of the pleasures of the senses, but who were required to be poets, musicians, conversationalists, and much more – so threatening?

Lynne Lawner will take you on a voyage back to the sixteenth century, to the lavish papal and ducal courts of Italy, and above all to the luxurious emporium and international melting-pot republican Renaissance Venice had become. At the center of a vivacious cultural life producing some of the greatest paintings and sculpture ever conceived we find the courtesans who, through their words and actions, emerge as much more than artists’ models or accomplished lovers.

Indeed, if we look closely, we will see how society itself was complicit in reviving the ancient phenomenon of the hetairai allied with the notion of “the sacred prostitute”. The law alternatively punished and protected these women, especially as the century drew to a close.

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