Early in 2024 the French bookseller Bertrand Hugonnard-Roche at Librairie l’Amour qui Bouquine, who specialises in erotic literature, came across an album of drawings which was apparently previously completely unknown. It consists of fifteen leaves of silver gelatine prints mounted on cream boards, all in a folder tied together with a gold ribbon, the cover repeating one of the prints. Each drawing portrays an orgy set in a different setting, from the circus ring and the desert to a dentist’s surgery and an operating theatre.

Bertrand believes that the album dates from the early 1950s, but we think it is earlier than that, almost certainly from the early 1940s. Several of the drawings appear to be inspired by the 1930s portfolios of ‘Santippa’, the pseudonym of French illustrator Gaston Hoffman, whose work you can see here – so much so that if we had to suggest an artist for L’amour en groupe it would be Hoffman.

However, while there are similarities with Hoffman, especially in the circus and operating theatre scenes, these fifteen drawings are much more explicitly sexual than a portfolio like Santippa’s 1936 Le théâtre de la nature. The artist of this album goes way over the top, making everything from lightbulbs to musical instruments as phallic as artistically possible.

If you are interested in buying the album, and have deep pockets, you will find Bertrand’s bookshop here.