In 1923, when Fingesten was at the height of his popularity, the Cologne collector Heinrich Stinnes (1867–1932) commissioned a personalised portfolio of drawings and etchings for his vast collection. The selection Fingesten put together for Stinnes consisted of 40 etchings, including several bookplates, and 51 original drawings. He titled it Improvisationen über das Thema Liebe (Improvisations on the Theme of Love). It was no doubt a particularly lucrative commission.

Born into a wealthy Mülheim entrepreneurial family that had been successful in the coal trade and mining since the early nineteenth century, Stinnes suffered from a chronic bone disease which made it impossible for him to involve himself actively in the family business. Instead he devoted himself to social projects, and collected books and artworks. His collection focused on special editions and graphics from artists including Ludwig Richter, Max Klinger, Otto Greiner, Max Slevogt, Lovis Corinth and Emil Nolde.

From 1910 to 1932 Stinnes put together a collection of more than 200,000 items, which after his death were sold piece by piece through auctions in Berlin, Leipzig and Bern. He marked his books with a characteristic signature and the graphics with a red collector’s stamp, which can be seen on the title page of this portfolio of Fingesten works.

We have shown here only some of this important portfolio, concentrating on those with an erotic content.

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.