The Danish Girl and the Erotic Art of Gerda Wegener

A plate from Allatini’s Sur Talons Rouges, illustrated by Gerda Wegener.

Many of the biggest names in Hollywood have been rumored to be part of an upcoming film based on the David Ebershoff novel The Danish Girl, which was inspired by the true story of artists Gerda Wegener and her spouse Lili Elbe. 

Original drawings by Wegener in our upcoming auction include this pen and ink of a happily inebriated women in revealingly loose dress tipping the last drops of elixir from her glass.

While Gerda became well known—and faced criticism at times—for her erotic illustrations filled with lesbian themes, her spouse Lili Elbe came out as a transwoman and underwent the first known sex confirmation surgery in history in 1930. 

A watercolor, pen and ink of a female harlequin lounging on a divan while maidens drop roses upon her employs many of the artist’s recurring motifs. 

Gerda often left her signature off of her highly erotic drawings and instead included a domino mask symbol in the lower right or left of each image.

The artist’s trademark mask appears at the bottom of this image from Vérineau’s Douze Sonnets, which also features—what else?—a swan.

There are many fine examples of Gerda’s works in Swann Galleries’ October 1, 2014 auction of Art, Press & Illustrated Books, including her most desirable illustrated books, such as Eric Allatini’s Sur Talons Rouges, as well as some original illustration art.