Art, Art History and Design, School of


Date of this Version



Published in Jonietz, F., M. Richter, A.G. Stewart (eds.), Indecent Bodies in Early Modern Visual Culture. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2023

doi 10.5117/9789463725835_ch01


Copyright © 2023 Alison Stewart


During the second quarter of the sixteenth century, Sebald Beham (1500‒1550) engraved a number of small prints with biblically related titles, Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife and Death and the Lascivious Couple. These prints, tiny enough to be held in the palm of one’s hand, show the male sexually aroused. First printed in Nuremberg and later in his new home of Frankfurt am Main, these sexual or erotic prints were popular enough to be copied by contemporaries and by Beham himself. This essay argues that Beham’s prints and their copies are part of a broader interest and taste for erotic imagery that was more widespread than previously studied, beyond Italy, and that included and emphasised male erections.