In November 2018 a fascinating item appeared in the auction catalogue of Marie-Saint Germain, part of the Paris-based Drouot group. It had until then been in a private collection of erotica, and this was the first time the previously unknown small-town innkeeper and artist Franz Hirmann had been considered an erotic artist with considerable talent and imagination.

Fräulein Anna, das schwangere Liebchen (Mistress Anna, the Pregnant Sweetheart) is a first-hand account of a short infatuation between the author, one ‘Franz Aschocher’ (aschocher = ashtray) and a very pregnant young woman, the Anna of the title. In 29 handwritten pages and 26 detailed watercolours, Fräulein Anna takes us from first meeting in a park to the delivery of the baby and the postpartum cuddle. To what extent the narrative is based on Hirmann’s firsthand experience we shall probably never know, but the combination of text and images offer a tender and apparently lovingly reciprocated encounter.

The text is dated 1902 and the images 1911, so it suggests that the story was re-transcribed at the later date when the paintings were made; the place of ‘publication’ on the title page is given as ‘Wien’ (Vienna), presumably to distance it from the small provincial town where it originated.