Haremswächter (Harem Guard), 1913

Rudolf Schlichter first produced erotic drawings in his early twenties, already displaying a penchant for an element of sado-masochism in his questioning of sexual power. It was a theme that he would return to regularly, especially in his prints and drawings from the early 1920s.

The only series of prints he produced, as opposed to single works, is the 1924 set shown here. He did not give them the title Liebesvariationen (if he had given them a title it would almost certainly not have included a reference to such a conventional concept as ‘love’); the title was added later by collectors and auction houses.

Der Künstler mit zwei erhängten Frauen (The Artist with Two Hanged Women), 1924

The six engravings display a real talent in engraving, with detail like the folds of clothing expertly represented. And as well as appreciating the explicit sexual intimacy depicted it is worth spending time with each, noting the facial expressions and background details. Particularly striking is the hanged man; death, especially by hanging, was a recurrent theme in art of the period, artists including Otto Dix and George Grosz as well as Schlichter producing striking works on the theme.

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.