Aphrodite: mœurs antiques (Aphrodite: Ancient Morals) was the highly popular 1896 novel that brought Pierre Louÿs to wide public attention. It tells the story of Chrysis, a courtesan, and the sculptor Démétrios, and is the classic theme of spurned love which turns into obsession and punishment, with the underlying message of the limits of mortality. Louÿs originally intended his novel to be published in a limited edition for his friends, but a glowing review by François Coppée in the Mercure de France, helped to no small extent by the libertine scenes scattered throughout the book, turned Aphrodite into a bestseller, inspiring artists, sculptors and composers to produce works based on the novel.
By the time Éditions de la Mappemonde commissioned Renée Ringel to produce sixteen watercolours for this edition, Aphrodite was an established vehicle for acceptable mild titillation, which Ringel managed perfectly with the novel’s protagonists engaged in naked but relatively chaste interactions.
Aphrodite was produced in a limited numbered edition of 1,500 copies.