Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chloe's Candle: Illustration by Brad Holland



We have featured the illustrations of American artist Brad Holland before here and here.  Today we have another of his sensuously erotic illustrations from the May 1980 issue of Playboy.  As ever, it's the (literal) little touches like the man's wandering fingers that make it so effective.


Anne Churchill, Countess of Sunderland by Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723)


This illustration, from Playboy's Ribald Rhymes feature of traditional erotic stories, is from a poem from 1701 written by a member of the Kit-Kat Club in London.  A gentleman's club with strong political and literary associations.  The name probably came from the owner, Christopher (Kit) Catt, of the the tavern in Shire Lane where the club first met.  Support for the politics of the Whig party (which eventually largely merged with the Liberals) was not the only thing that concerned them.  They also had a tradition of offering toasts at their dinners to famous beauties of the day, such as the four daughters of John Churchill, the First Duke of Marlborough: Lady Godolphin, Lady Sunderland, Lady Bridgewater, and Lady Monthermer.  Many of these women had been painted by Kit-Kat Club member Sir Godfrey Kneller, who also produced a series of portraits of the members.

Other members of the club included writers such as Sir Richard Steele, Matthew, Prior, William Congreve, Sir John Vanbrugh (who as an architect designed the Duke of Marlborough's home Blenheim Palace), and Joseph Addison. It is quite possible that one of these penned the poem Chloe's Candle.

The poem tells of a shepherd, Strephon, who discovers a large candle on his girlfriend, Chloe's, nightstand and picks it up to have a look at it.

But when more near this utensil he viewed,
Which as he held it like a truncheon shewed,
He soon discovered the fair wanton's crime,
For on its sides there hung a lucid slime,
Brown curling hair, which in the furious joy,
The Melting tallow plucked unfelt away,

Upset that Chloe was using the candle as a dildo he confronts her when she returns to her room and points out that the inanimate candle cannot possibly give the love, ardor and satisfaction that he can.

With that he seized her, panting, in his arms,
Greedy of tasting the forbidden charms,
Swift through the curling brake, his pintle drove,
To seek among dark shade the springs of love,
With ease he pierced the sacred gloomy shade,
Through the same passage which the candle made,

Chloe excited by being ravished by her lover

With arms and legs embraced the amorous swain,
Cried, Oh my dear!" then spent and died again.

Thus she feels ecstasies unknown before, 
Resolved to use the tallow tool no more,
And finding from a prick such true delight,
Leaves the dull taper to supply the night,
Thus he fucks on with many a vigorous thrust,
Blest by the nymph, though by the candle curst.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Blonde Electra sisters kiss on X-Factor. Puritans horrified!



Agent Triple P caught some of the X Factor final last night, in particular the part where the contestants who had been knocked out of the live stages came back to sing together for the one more time (as if the world actually wanted that).  At one point during the number the members of Blonde Electra, who were knocked out in the first week, locked lips for a kiss.  That'll cause a scandal, we thought, as it shows that they are all miming!

Indeed, today the press is full of outrage over the kiss but not because of the miming or even because they were both women (we remember the scandal when Russian lipstick "lesbian" group Tatu had their kiss on stage during Top of the Pops edited out a few years ago).  No, the cause of all the consternation is that Jazzy and Ruby King are sisters.  Ooh, er, missus, incest, howled the tabloids and online sites.

Now, we find all this ridiculous.  What we have here are two not very talented, not very attractive young women who are desperate to be famous.  Having blown their big chance because the viewing public found them really annoying (they have a British father but their upbringing and accents are American) they get one more chance to get in front of the cameras.  How do we stand out given the other dozens of singers on stage at the same time, they think?  They could have stripped off, of course, but it was a lot easier to have a little snog. Now, perhaps, Hugh Hefner might give them a call to pose for Playboy, although they don't actually really have the faces or the figures.  

So, a publicity stunt, yes, but incestuous? Now the subject of incest is a thorny one, of course.  In nearly all societies it is illegal and there are very few exceptions and these are usually related to rulers breeding with family members to keep a particular family in power, as in Ancient Egypt.  There is no suggestion that this was common among normal citizens at the time. The Azande people of Africa had a tradition whereby a father would ritually deflower his daughter and brother/sister incest was not uncommon and the Thonga tribe had similar habits but these are very rare examples.  The reasons for the ban on incest is not just the very real risk of inbreeding but also about the use of inappropriate power to coerce, as in parent child relationships (which is why biological incest has been extended to people like step-parents in many countries).  In the United States the test is of consanguinity which measures the degree of blood relationship of two people.  Americans are often surprised to discover that sex and marriage between two first cousins, which is illegal in the US, is perfectly legal in the UK.  Indeed, Agent Triple P has a married aunt and uncle who are first cousins.  This indicates an element of social construct as regards the rules, therefore.

What is less clear is the definition of incest between same sex partners. Some countries explicitly do not define same sex relationships between family members as incest (Hong Kong).  In the UK the definition is about forbidding sexual intercourse, which has to be penetrative.  So, by that definition two brothers could be guilty of incest but two sisters couldn't be as they are not equipped with penises.  

So we find our fame hungry sisters not guilty of incest, apart from the fact that all they did was kiss, which is quite legal between any combination of people.  If they had got down on stage and started fingering each other then the uproar would have been justified.  It is really just another example of the new puritanism being fanned by the press as they look for things to be offended by?

Interestingly, Triple P does have some experience of sisters behaving rather more intimately than is usual.  When he was fifteen he went to a November 5th party (where British people set off fireworks and burn effigies of Catholics) and two very attractive sisters, aged fifteen and seventeen also attended. Triple P instantly hit it off with the fifteen year old and after too much homemade wine (lethal stuff) ended up dancing (badly) with said young lady,  We then retired to a dark part of our host's garden (it had a small wood  at the bottom) and indulged in our very first attempt at a snog.  We really had no idea what we were doing.  However, the older sister found us and, having been watching us, told her sister that we were both doing it all wrong.  She them demonstrated French kissing on her sister complete with bottom and neck caressing.  This we found hugely arousing, of course, but we were much more excited over the fact that they were women kissing each other than sisters kissing each other which, at the time, we didn't really think about, oddly.

One of our girlfriends has related how she learned, as a thirteen year old, to masturbate following a demonstration by her fifteen year old sister.  She said that they quite often masturbated together and, once or twice attempted to mutually engage in the activity.  This continued for a year until the older girl got her first boyfriend.  She has never been entirely clear about how far this activity went but they were certainly sexually close to a certain extent.  Both are now perfectly well adjusted women in their forties but their slightly more friendly than expected kisses (which we have observed) when greeting each other still generates a certain frisson.

So calm down Britain, one kiss between sisters looking for publicity (job done , girls) does not spell a society destroying outbreak of incest!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Idylle d'été by Auguste Levêque


Idylle d'été (1918)


We have decided to stop our eighteenth century theme as it has been running now since August. So it is back to our usual eclectic selection for the next few months.  As an appropriate restful pause after our themed posts we have this superbly post-coital painting by Auguste Levêque.   The couple, totally comfortable in each other's nakedness, recline in an area of hay which has obviously been flattened by their previous passionate activity, and gaze at each other raptly.

Auguste Levêque (1866-1921) was a Belgian painter as well as a sculptor and poet.  He studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts which was founded in 1711.  Although a realist he was also influenced by the symbolist movement but many of his paintings were based on mythological subjects such as Circe and Diana.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Illustrations for Le Rideau levé ou l'Éducation de Laure by Jean-Adrien Mercier (1899-1995).





Here we have some illustrations by Jean-Adrien Mercier to Mirabeau's Le Rideau levé ou l'Éducation de Laure.  Mercier was an established and well known illustrator rather than a specialist in purely erotic fare.  This is one of four erotic books he provided the illustrations for.




Mirabeau's 1786 novel tells the story of Laure, who is educated sexually by her father.  Female protagonists were popular in French erotic novels of the time.  The process of her education is accelerated by her spying on her father and his mistress having sex on the other side of the curtain mentioned in the title; although it is a symbolic curtain as well.  Laure's libertine but structured sexual education is contrasted with her more outrageous cousins whose headlong plunge into depravity is offered as a salutary, and ultimately tragic, lesson.




Mercier was born in 1899 in the city of Angers in the Loire Valley.  He attended the l' École régionale des beaux-arts d'Angers and then l' École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris.  After he left art school in 1923 he started his career by producing some book illustrations, working on woodblock prints which gave him a useful technical grounding for what would become his speciality, posters.


L'Homme a l'Hispano (1933)


The following year he won a competition to produce a poster for the Angers Trade fair and after that his new direction was set as he produced hundreds of posters including 150 for films; producing posters for top French directors like Jean Renoir and Abel Gance.


Cointreau advertisement 1937


Mercier's mother was the granddaughter of the founder of the Cointreau drinks company and the daughter of one of the Cointreau brothers who invented the orange flavoured liqueur itself in 1875.  Mercier produced many posters for the company until 1965.




In the late thirties and early forties he started producing illustrations for children's books.  He left Paris in 1940 and moved to Dinard on the coast. He stopped producing posters almost entirely. In 1961 he was asked to produce the decorations for the children's play area of the ocean liner SS France.  In the forties and fifties he worked on illustrations for a number of religious books.  He did his final book illustrations in 1993, two years before his death at the age of 97.




These illustrations were done for a limited edition of Mirabeau's novel produced in 1933.  Three hundred and fifty of the four hundred copies of the edition were seized by police and destroyed.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Illustrations for La Duchesse ou la Femme Sylphide by Rétif de la Bretonne




Here is another set of eighteenth century-set frolics by an anonymous artist.  Whilst not as polished as the work of some of the artists we have featured so far, they do communicate a certain joie de vivre at the sexual antics depicted.




These are from a set of twenty illustrations to a 1948 edition of La Duchesse ou la Femme Sylphide by Rétif de la Bretonne, which was published in a very limited edition of about two hundred copies. 




Nicolas-Edme Rétif (or Restif) was born in the Burgundy region of France in 1734.  As a young man, after a religious eductaion by the controversial Jansenist sect, he was apprenticed to a printer in Auxerre. 




He married in 1760 and about six years after this had his first writings published, having moved to Paris.




Over the course of his life Rétif wrote over 200 hundred books covering many subjects, although many of them he self-published and printed himself.




He wrote many novels and short stories, a book attacking the Marquis de Sade's book Justine (the two men disliked each other intensely), a book calling for the regulation of prostitution and a sixteen volume autobiography, Monsieur Nicolas.




Having lost a lot of money during the turmoil of the French Revolution he was later favoured by the Thermidor movement, who had ousted the original revolutionaries, but his aristocratic friends and his reputation counted against him.  Napoleon came to his rescue and offered him a position in the police ministry but he died, in 1806, before he could start the job.




We have been unable to find out anything about the book, other than the fact that it was written in 1783.  Perhaps someone knows more about it.




The sexual acts depicted in the illustrations are varied.  The final two, here, show female to female and female to male postillionage, which are rather more unusual in erotic illustrations such as this.



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Illustrations from Point de Lendemain by Leo Fontan (1884-1965)




We've just posted a number of elegant illustrations of women's be-stockinged legs by French illustrator Leo Fontan on our Venus Observations blog.  Coincidentally, he also produced a number of illustrations that fit with our current eighteenth century theme here on The Seduction of Venus. 




They are from  a 1935 limited edition of Point de Lendemain (no tomorrow) by Vivant Denon (1747-1825).  First published in 1777 it tells the story of the amorous adventures a young man in an initially, to him, baffling aristocratic society.  




Denon was originally a diplomat but fled Paris at the outset of the French Revolotions.  He returned, to ensure his property in Paris wasn't confiscated, and was soon back working under the new government.  He was appointed to accompany Napoleon to Egypt and produced his illustrated Travels in Upper and Lower Egypt in 1802.  




He then became director of the Louvre Museum and then travelled Europe, at the behest of Napoleon, acquiring art for it.  After Napoleon's defeat in 1815 the allies insisted that much of the art collected by Denon from conquered territories had to be returned to its rightful owners and he, unwillingly, oversaw the repatriation of over 5,000 works of art in the months after Waterloo. 




Fontan's watercolour illustrations for Point de Lendemain have the requisite powdered wigs and stockings of the period in question.  On the whole they feature figures and one piece of furniture with plain backgrounds.




One of the illustrations, however, has a fully rendered background, featuring a copulating couple admiring themselves in a mirrored wall, which is completely charming.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Illustrations from Le Livre de la Marquise by Konstantin Somov (1869-1939)





Konstantin Somov was one of Russia's greatest painters, equally at home with portraits, illustrations and landscapes.  His landscape, The Rainbow (1927) set   the record for the price at auction for a piece of Russian art when it was sold in 2007 for $7.33 million.




He was a founder member of the Mir Iskusstva (World of Art) movement along with the likes of Leon Bakst.  Set up in 1898, the following year they published a magazine with the same name.




Somov was the son of the curator of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and studied at the Academy of Arts there from 1888 until 1897.  From 1897 until 1899 he lived in Paris.




Somov was fascinated, not just be eighteenth century painting, but also the music of the time so it is no surprise to see him producing illustrations set in the period.




The influence of Watteau and Fragonard is evident in these illustrations, especially in this amusing picture of a lady using a chamber pot.






These illustrations are from a book of erotic short stories published in St Petersburg in 1918 called Le Livre de la Marquise at a time when the Russian Revolution had resulted in a temporary end to censorship in the country.






Somov had been working on these illustrations since the turn of the century.  Interestingly, a later edition contained more explicit pictures including different versions of some of the originals, as can be seen above.




In the nineteen twenties Somov moved, briefly, to the United States but was not happy there and returned to Paris where he lived for the rest of his life.