Seemingly detached or preoccupied, a woman receives oral sex in this painting from the Suburban Baths, a sprawling complex located outside Pompeii’s city limits. Along with several other erotic frescoes, this painting adorns what was once a changing room (apodyterium) used by both sexes. Despite the presence of the erotic art, it isn’t known for certain whether the apodyterium, or any part of the Suburban Baths, was actually used as a brothel.
The painting is unusual in its reversal of sex roles. Roman depictions of cunnilingus are not uncommon, but they almost always show a man being gratified as well. Here, the man is fully clothed, squatting and completely servile.