Mariette Lydis’s second portfolio of lesbian engravings, Sappho, was published in 1933, ‘aux frais d’un groupe d’amateurs’ (at the expense of a group of amateur collectors). A more substantial production than Lesbiennes (which had a handwritten title on the cover), Sappho consisted of fifteen monochrome prints depicting women lovers, presented in a red embossed folder; the number of copies produced was limited to just forty-five, all the prints being signed in pencil by Lydis. As many of the sets of engravings have been separated over the years, complete portfolios of Sappho are now extremely rare.
Sappho was a first-century poet who lived on the Greek island of Lesbos; very little of her work survives, but both her name and that of her island home have become indelibly associated with same-sex love between women.
We are very grateful to Justin Croft of Justin Croft Antiquarian Books for these images. For anyone with a love of Mariette Lydis’s work, deep pockets and an eye for an investment, the Lydis-illustrated Sappho is currently available to buy from Justin Croft Antiquarian Books; details here.