Penises and Pompadours: The Erotic Art of Franz von Bayros

Thanks to John D. Larson of Swann’s books department for this eye-opening post!


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.


On Tuesday, November 8 at 1:30 pm, Swann Galleries will be offering a nice sampling for sale, spread among several lots, of Franz von Bayros’ erotic illustrations as part of our Art, Press, & Illustrated Books / 19th and 20th Century Literature sale.


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.

For more information, including detailed descriptions and auction estimates for the von Bayros material and similarly themed erotic books and illustrations, view our online catalogue.  The sale’s preview exhibition is open Friday, November 4, 10-6; Saturday, November 5, 10-4; Monday, November 7, 10-6; and from 10-noon Tuesday, November 8, the day of the auction.