Rojan in 1935

Rojan was very knowledgeable about classical literature, and regularly illustrated scenes from it in his own humorous way. One such magnificent portfolio, consisting of twelve originals drawn with pencil and watercolour, is L’ane d’or, The Golden Ass, based on the text by Apuleius, the second century Roman philosopher and satirist.

Rojan created three almost identical versions of this portfolio, one with a red-haired woman, one with a blonde, and one with a brunette. All three are now in important private collections in Europe. The works are undated, but were created around 1935. The brunette version shown here comes from the estate of the French actor Michel Simon.

In this erotic story, the narrator Lucius is magically transformed into a donkey, but he retains his human intelligence and sensitivity. Lucius describes his sexual adventures with a lustful married woman who pays its owner to spend a single night with the clever animal. She makes Lucius drunk with wine, massages him with oils and perfumes to arouse him, and then makes love profusely with him. Lucius describes his own ineptitude to make love with four-hoofed feet, huge lips and a massive penis, but for the experienced woman there are no problems.

Rojan makes the most of every imaginable comic opportunity from this scenario. The full-figured young woman, who is dressed in a Roman tunic and sandals, is provocatively sensual and lustful. Lucius is adorned with a garland of flowers. Rojan closely follows the original text, which shows the woman as a seductress and Lucius as an initially unwilling but gradually more enthusiastic partner. When the sun rises the next morning, both are exhausted.

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.