T. Mertens is a mystery. Whoever they were, they appear only to have produced illustrations for two 1930s erotic titles; no other information has ever come to light. ‘Mertens’ is a Flemish or north-eastern French surname, and Mertens’ publisher Maurice Duflou also came from Hazebrouck which is in north-east France; is that a coincidence? Is Mertens a real name or a pseudonym?

The style is remarkably similar to that of Luc Lafnet in his Esclave amoureuse of 1930, which raises the outside possibility of ‘Mertens’ being another of Lafnet’s noms de plume. Or maybe Mertens was just very good at copying someone else’s successful style.

We shall probably never know …

Example illustration