The full title of this portfolio of black and white drawings is Fleurettens Purpurschnecke: Erotische Lieder und Gedichte aus dem achtzehnten Jahrhundert gesammelt; the volume was published by Munich bookseller C.W. Stern.
The text of these eighteenth century ‘Erotische Lieder und Gedichte’ (erotic poems and stories) was compiled by ‘Franciscus Amadeus’ (the pseudonym of Franz Blei, 1871–1942), bringing together German romantic verses by George Scheffnern, Johann Peter Uz, August Ossenfelder and Gottfried August Bürger.
Fleurette is one of the chief protagonists of some of the poems, and her Purpurschnecke is Tyrian purple, an expensive dye – indicating her high status – made from the ground-up shells of the clam species Muricidae, mostly originating from the eastern Mediterranean and today almost extinct from over-fishing.
The engravings are notable for their honest depiction of genitalia and arousal, and of women (often older women with believably rotund bodies) enjoying themselves sexually; they must have been a welcome injection of reality and quite an education to the readership of the time.
The portfolio was produced in a limited numbered edition of 560 copies, including sixty which were individually signed by Franz von Bayros.