Keuschheitsgürtel (Chastity Belt), 1925

The German illustrator Erika Plehn takes her place here as the creator of a couple of wonderfully vivid erotic sequences she made in her early twenties, shortly before marrying a priest and settling down to a more apparently conventional, and we hope satisfied, life. She was born Erika Pinkus in the city of Breslau (now the Polish city of Wrocław), and studied art in Berlin. We know nothing of her personal life beyond the fact that she married Gerhard Plehn (1908–87) some time around 1930, and from 1937 to 1945 they lived in the north German village of Gross Engelau before returning to Berlin. As far as we can tell they had no children.

Cover of Die Bernsteinhexe

Her first book illustration commission came in 1920 for Rede für ein kleines Mädchen Noni-Loni zum Fest ihres ersten Geburtstages (Advice for the Little Girl Noni-Loni on the Occasion of her First Birthday) by Cäsar Flaischlen, and she continued to illustrate children’s books including Oskar Bie’s Die schöne Helena (The Beautiful Helena) in 1923, Maria Schweidler’s Die Bernsteinhexe (The Amber Witch) in 1925, and Alfred Richard Meyer’s popular Munkepunke series.

Cocktail, 1935

In the 1930s she provided line illustrations for several handbooks for housewives, a far cry from the erotic paintings of her younger years.

Example illustration