A spread from the original manuscript version of Barbara

No one knows the true identity of Bernard Montorgueil, so perhaps he (or maybe she?) should really be called ‘Bernard Montorgueil’. What little is known is that Montorgueil was a French artist and writer who produced erotic writing and artwork during the 1920s and 1930s, mainly focused on the world of femdom–malesub, with a dash or two of homoerotica and feminisation. If you thought fetishes like latex, cock-rings, butt plugs, whips, shackles and bondage started in the 1970s, think again!

The texts and images attributed to Montorgueil consist of four manuscripts – Dressage (Training), Une brune piquante (A Spicy Brunette), Une après-midi de Barbara (An Afternoon with Barbara), and Les quat’ jeudis (The Four Thursdays) – though different editions mix and match the material under one or more of these titles.

Montorgueil’s work became very popular in the 1950s, where it was circulated around the underground fetish BDSM community. The drawings were originally produced in pencil and later coloured for publication in the 1970s, when they were collated into the volumes Dans la maison des amazones, Madame de Varennes and Barbara, and Les quatre jeudis.

The manuscript versions were owned by the erotic art collector Tony Fekete, and sold at auction in 2014 for £30,000; these were used for the limited editions published in 1970 by Editions Bel-Rose in the Netherlands and France, and in 1979 by Editions Dominique Leroy. In 1984 an English-language paperback version of Training and Four Thursdays was published by Sinistre Editions; in 2003 La Musardine republished Dressage; and in 2005 a German anthology was produced by Editions3Masques. All are currently out of print.