A plate from Pöder und Lendelein (1920)

When in his twenties, like so many young artists in Weimar Berlin, Fritz Meisel turned his hand to erotic illustration. In 1920 he produced a portfolio of ten rather run-of-the-mill etchings of sexual congress, Pöder und Lendelein (an almost untranslatable expression, Puder being ‘powder’ and Lenden ‘loins’), and three years later a portfolio of six similar prints, Lampions (Chinese Lanterns).

By far his best erotic etchings, however, are in this too-small portfolio of brothel scenes, Bordelle (Brothels). Not only are they erotic, they also show a free and imaginative use of colour and composition. Given that this set is signed as ‘Probedruck’ (test print) and no other copies are known, it may be that Bordelle was never actually published.

The final etching includes the caption ‘Hiermit schliessen die Bordelle!!’, ‘This Ensures that the Brothels will be Closed!!’.

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.