Penises and Pompadours: The Erotic Art of Franz von Bayros

Frans von Bayros, pen-and-ink drawing, most likely a design for a bookplate, circa 1915.

Decadent! Erotic! Phantasmagoric! Fin-de-siècle grotesqueries! Gents and ladies disporting themselves, occasionally with a zealous attention by attending friends from the animal kingdom! The provocative work of Austrian artist Franz von Bayros (1866-1924) garnered all of these responses, though simple outrage was no doubt the most prevalent.

Erzählungen am Toilettentische von Choisy Le Conin, illustrated title-page and 15 erotic plates by Bayros, privately printed for subscribers, circa 1908.
Der Amethyst, with plates by von Bayros, Aubrey Beardsley (shown), Alfred Kubin, Félicien Rops, Maurice Besnaux, and others.  Number 746 of 800 copies privately printed for subscribers, Vienna, 1906-06.

Typically, for an artist dealing with such imagery, von Bayros produced work under several pseudonyms, most notably Choisy Le Conin, and was hounded by authorities for much of his life for his “indecent” art. Yet it has been often pointed out that, unlike some other decadent or erotic art, von Bayros is keen to suggest the primal joy of sex, even while indulging an imagination that allows for the inclusion of such taboo or “exploitative” subjects as sadomasochism and bestiality.

Marquis de Sade, Le Bordel de Venise, 8 plates and 2 vignette pochoirs of orgy scenes by Couperyn [pseud. of George A. Drains],  Paris, 1921.

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Further Reading: The Earliest French Erotica