Enter the foyer of Erica Jong’s apartment in the East Sixties, and there is the mistress of the house, hanging unabashedly on the wall. In the portrait, painted on the occasion of the writer’s fiftieth birthday, Jong sits barefoot and cross-legged on what appears to be a stone wall. Her famous blonde hair curls down to her shoulders, from which a salmon swath of silken fabric falls. Jong clasps this wrap to her breast with both hands, demurely hiding the flesh that is tempestuously bared in so much of her fiction.

In the background lurks an imaginary Venice, a campanile tower thrusting none too subtly into its sky. The woman in this portrait is sensuous, positively sybaritic, as one might expect from the author of Fear of Flying and fifteen other books that contain, collectively, several hundred orgasms.