In 16th century southern Europe, Michelangelo felt comfortable showing David with stylized pubic hair but female bodies remained hairless below the head. 

In Renaissance northern Europe, pubic hair was more likely to be portrayed than in the south, more usually male, but occasionally female.

By the 17th century, suggestions of female pubic hair appeared in pornographic engravings, such as those by Agostino Carracci. 

By the late 18th century, female pubic hair was openly portrayed in Japanese shunga (erotica), especially in the ukiyo-e tradition. Hokusai's picture The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, depicting a woman having an erotic fantasy, is a well-known example. 

Fine art paintings and sculpture created before the 20th century in the Western tradition usually depicted women without  pubic hair or even, a visible vulva.

According to John Ruskin's biographer Mary Lutyens, the notable author, artist, and art critic was apparently accustomed only to the hairless nudes portrayed unrealistically in art, never having seen a naked woman before his wedding night. He was allegedly so shocked by his discovery of his wife Effie's pubic hair that he rejected her, and the marriage was later legally annulled. He is supposed to have thought his wife was freakish and deformed. (
Heinrich Aldegrever's Eve, 1540. A rare early example of pubic hair in northern European art.
In ancient Egyptian art, feminine pubic hair was indicated in the form of painted triangles. 

In medieval and classical European art, feminine pubic hair was rarely depicted, and masculine pubic hair often, but not always, omitted. 

Sometimes it was portrayed in stylized form, as was the case with Greek graphic art. 

The same was true in much of Indian art, and in other Eastern portrayals of nudes.
Bobbie Chuan
Copyright 2013: imaginary enterprises



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