A leading lot in Sotheby’s Erotic: Passion & Desire sale on February 15 is Francesco Barzaghi’s (1839-92) life-size marble nude of the ancient Greek courtesan Phryné, dating from 1868. Estimate £400,000-600,000.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Sotheby’s is gearing up to hold its second edition of Erotic: Passion & Desire, a sale, the auction house says, which explores “the history of human sexuality in all its guises”.

Held on February 15 in London, the 90-lot auction brings together art from antiquity to the modern day, including prints, photographs, paintings, sculpture, drawings, Asian works of art and film posters.

A leading lot is Francesco Barzaghi’s (1839-92) life-size marble nude of the beautiful ancient Greek courtesan Phryné. Dating from 1868, the sculpture is based on Phryné’s trial for impiety, depicting the moment her nude body was unveiled to a room of Athenian judges in a last attempt to save her life.

It derives its composition from Jean-Léon Gérôme’s painting of Phryné in the Kunsthalle Hamburg, which had caused a sensation when exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1861.

Estimate £400,000-600,000.