Les extases de l’amour (The Ecstasies of Love) is a rare and strange portfolio, known in different versions in only a handful of surviving copies. Jean-Pierre Dutel’s standard reference work, Bibliographie des ouvrages érotiques publiés clandestinement en France entre 1650 et 1880, lists a version containing just eleven plates in a vertical format; another copy from the collection of Georges Hugnet (1906–1974), which was bought by Tony Fekete and sold by him at auction in 2014, contains twenty uncoloured plates. A third copy, containing eighteen coloured plates with titles in French and English – an example, ‘Les deux tetons: The two Brearts (sic)’ is shown here – came to auction in Berlin in April 2022.
Our portfolio, from the collection of Hans-Jürgen Döpp, is yet another different version, in a more horizontal format, with fourteen coloured plates, titles in French only, and with a four-line verse to accompany each print. The portfolio is ‘dédié à l’univers fouteur’ (dedicated to the universe of fucking), and published ‘in Citery island’, an unidentified corner of Paris.
The images, which are about as explicit as they come, have the titles:
Astre de la vie (The Star of Life)
La victoire d’amour (The Victory of Love)
L’évanouissement (Fainting Fit)
Avis aux athé[e]s (Advice for Unbelievers)
Les deux tétons (Both Nipples)
La walse d’amour (The Waltz of Love)
Les charmes de la masturbation (The Joys of Masturbation)
L’heureuse position (The Best Position)
L’heureux calcul (The Happy Reckoning)
La gamahuche (Cunnilingus)
L’attente voluptueuse (Voluptuous Expectation)
L’aimable bidet (A Pleasant Lap)
L’heureuse conjonction (Happy Connection)
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.