A plate from Dekameron (1922)

Having been burnt by his experience with the publishing of Erbkünde, Klemm was understandably wary of possible critical issues arising with new work. He continued working on twelve colour engravings for an edition of Boccaccio’s Dekameron, which was published by Kern of Munich in 1922; this portfolio included a few bare breasts but nothing more suggestive. Around the same time he produced four etchings for Reiher-Presse in Weimar entitled Liebeshändel nach alten Erzählungen (Love Arrangements from Old Tales), again featuring tasteful naked curves.

He had also, however, been working on something altogether more risqué, a portfolio entitled Die Dirne (The Harlot). He may well have been hoping that the Berlin publisher Wolfgang Gurlitt, who was producing similar material by Otto Schoff, would be the perfect partner for Die Dirne, but for whatever reason the project never materialised. We must be grateful that just this one proof copy survived.

Leidenschaft (Passion), 1922

A few other coloured engravings featuring naked bodies exist from around this time, suggesting that Klemm was at least thinking about erotic subject matter. Whether or not the scenes depicted in Die Dirne are based on personal experience we shall never know.

We are very grateful to Hans-Jürgen Döpp for these images; Hans-Jürgen, the compiler of many books on erotic art, curates the Venusberg online gallery and bookshop which you can find here.