We all know (or certainly should) what a clitoris is, but ‘empourprés’ is a wonderful French word for which no direct translation exists. Translators have tried ‘empurpled’, but ‘pourprés’ isn’t exactly ‘purple’; the French for ‘purple’ is ‘mauve’ or ‘violet’; ‘pourprés’ is much redder, veering towards crimson. Our favourite translation is Shakespeare’s ‘incarnadine’ – try ‘I adore your incarnadine clitoris’ – but ‘roseate’ and ‘encrimson’d’ are good too.
However it’s described, the talented anonymous creator of this wonderful portfolio was clearly a lover of that source of female pleasure, especially of the externally-extended and too-often shame-inducing variety. They also liked penises, and the larger the better, often grown into impossible proportions.
This intriguing portfolio of drawings is in the collection of French collector Alexandre Dupouy, and in 2007 he collaborated with the publisher Astarte to produce a limited-edition book based on the collection, with an extended preface by literary critic Serge Koster. This lovely little volume, with more images than we have shown and text in French and English, is available from Astarte here.