Women breasts were still seen as being sacred in the 16th century. In the painting “The Origin of the Milky Way”, the interpretation of the painting follows closely to a story in the Roman mythology. Jupitor, the father of gods who wished to immortalise the infant Hercules whose mother was the mortal Alcmene, held him to the breasts of the sleeping Juno. The milk, which spurted upwards, formed the Milky Way in the space while some flowed down to have lilies on the ground. The sketch of the painting started in the year 15383. Juno was the sister of Jupiter and important Roman goddesses. She was known to be a protector of the Roman people and especially women, being the goddess of marriage, fertility and childbirth.4 As such, it proved that the belief in Juno was strong during the 16th century. It can also be interpreted that at that time, they knew that breast milk is nutritious and because of wars and food storage, breast milk was the best alternative for the baby. Therefore, breasts were seen as sacred due to the main source of food provided by the women for the baby. Without breast milk, the baby might not survive. As a result, we can also say that during times of turmoil, the war changes the society which in turn, views breasts as source of milk for their children compared to sacred originally.
As the society became more open-minded and comfortable with discussions about body issues, breasts were also starting to be seen as being erotic by the man. This could be evidenced from a comment made by early 16th century Clemant Marot, a French poet who once compared breasts to "lawns of milk."5 From his opinion, it implies that breasts stimulated the male sexual desire.
As the society and culture becomes more open-minded, the painting, "Eva Prima Pandora" (1540) by Jean Cousin, is one of the first few paintings that have hints of lust and eroticism. According to references, the passive pose of Eve in the painting was similar to Cleopatra who was labelled as a cruel and lustful woman during that period.6 In addition, from the painting, Eve was depicted to have physical characteristics such as having long bodies and legs and round breasts. Coincidentally, most men during that period saw the characteristics she has in the painting as desirable and erotic. However, these physical characteristics of Eve were also seen as evil and lustful under the Judaism and Christianity religion due to the association with Pandora who was responsible for bringing evil into the world. Therefore, in the eye of the society during that era, desirable physical attributes like round breasts equates to evil.
Unlike modern times when there is physical contact between the doctor and patient, Holland during the 17th century showed an opposite situation. From the painting, "The Doctor and his Patient" by Jan Steen, it could be interpreted that breasts were considered a private area of a woman in Holland and there should not be any physical contact