Whilst pondering what kind of person thinks paintings like this are pornographic I realised I had the ideal opportunity to explore whether any of the 18th century old master's nudes are dirty pictures. In doing so, I've trawled galleries world wide to find examples.It is true, the 18th century was obsessed by sex and plenty of illustrations, cartoons, and such like exist as proof of this. However, there were also many genuine painters of high art who considered the naked body to be nothing short of glorious and used it at every opportunity.
How beautiful is this? Painted by Anne-Louis Girode De Roussy-Trioson in 1799 it is a portrait of Mlle. Lange as Danae. Oh but she has breasts! Quelle horreur! A woman with breasts.
This by Van Der Werff - The Judgement of Paris. Everyone's a bit naked here, but is it porn? I don't think so.
In fact Van Der Werff seemed to specialise in nude or semi-nude works like this. Here's another. Venus kissed by Cupid.
Then there's this below, by Jean-Baptiste Santerre in 1704, which shows Susanna at her bath. Okay, so the 'interesting' bits are covered up, but nevertheless a bath is an intimate thing.
I think what all this goes to show is that, whilst the 18th century was an hedonistic and licentious time, those works of art that celebrate the human form in this way are quite beautiful and nothing to be afraid of.
Right, now I'm off to take a gander at the Rowlandson exhibition in the Queen's Gallery. Watch this space.
Angela Elliott is the writer of The Finish - the progress of a murder uncovered - Find The Finish here