L’académie des dames is a portfolio of twenty of Albert Marquet’s drawings of sexual ‘attitudes’, all featuring young women masturbating or in lesbian encounters. It was published in New York around three years after his death, presumably with the agreement of his widow Marcelle, and until the 2010 sale of the bulk of his erotic sketches these were among his only erotic drawings of his which were widely known about.

It is interesting to imagine why the publisher chose these particular drawings for a portfolio, and why Albert was interested enough in women-only sexual pleasure to have made so many drawings in the first place. He is known to have preferred working from life, so were these drawings made from personal observation?

Marquet’s choice of title is almost certainly a reference to Nicolas Chorier’s eighteenth-century novel of the same title, which includes many lesbian scenes; for more about Chorier’s novel see here.