Sex in the Cities  Vol 3 (Paris)
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Description

Conveying six centuries of gallantry, serving as the world capital of fashion and love, Paris is the very symbol of eroticism and of joyful sexuality. Offenbach, in La Vie Parisienne, had already created a hymn dedicated to the pleasure of senses.
The author, with complete freedom, follows André Malraux’s approach by building an
imaginary museum, in a Paris where time no longer exists, space is neverending, and desire is always present.
The iconography is exceptional, coming from unpublished private collections and covering five centuries of Paris’ erotic story. It is accompanied by an academic text which allows the reader to discover this world, never vulgar and always subtle, from when the first man looked at the first woman: eroticism.

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Publié par
Date de parution 31 décembre 2015
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781785259197
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 4 Mo

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Author:
Hans-Jürgen Döpp

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© Confidential Concepts, worldwide, USA
© Parkstone Press International, New York, USA
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© Berthommé-Saint-André Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
© Dalí Salvador, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VEGAP, Madrid
© Hans Bellmer Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
© Vertès Marcel, All rights reserved

All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or adapted with out the permission of the copyright holder, throughout the world. Unless otherwise specified, copyright on the works reproduced lies with the respective photographers, artists, heirs or estates. Despite intensive research, it has not always been possible to establish copyright ownership. Where this is the case, we would appreciate notification.

ISBN: 978-1-78525-919-7
Hans-Jürgen Döpp



Sex in the Cities
PARIS
Contents


Introduction
Paris: The City of Love?
The Parisienne – a Chimera?
History: Middle Ages, Renaissance
Paris: Europe’s First Metropolis
François Villon
The Court in the 16 th Century
The Golden Age of Eroticism
The Duke of Orléans’ “ fêtes d’Adam ”
Duke of Richelieu’s “ Petite Maison ”
Deer Park
The Palais Royal
Madame Gourdan’s Brothel
18 th Century Literature and Art
Romanticism
Triumph of the “Bourse” and Romantic Interior
Charles Fourier and the “New Order of Love”
Streets and Boulevards
The Belle Époque and Montmartre
Montmartre
20 th Century – Modern Paris
The Myth of Montparnasse
Jules Pascin
Marcel Vertès
André Breton and Surrealism
Hans Bellmer
On the etching Souterrain Baroque by Bellmer
André Masson
1-2-2
Paris: The Imaginary Museum of Eroticism?
Bibliography
Index
Guide secret pour étrangers et viveurs
(Secret Guide for Foreigners and Roués), 1910. Book cover.


Introduction


Paris: The City of Love?

Throughout the world, Paris is regarded as the “city of love and the erotic”. To this day, the ideal destination of any honeymoon is a trip to Paris. But it is not only for loving couples that this proud city continues to be an attraction – tourists in search of extra excitement in love also pursue their fantasies about Paris. This is made apparent in a rather dubious joke:
A man confesses to his male friend: “I’m off to Paris!”, his friend replies: “You bastard!” The man about to set off corrects him: “No, I’m not going on my own! I’m going with my wife!”; “You stupid bastard!” his friend immediately counters.
What does one expect to find in Paris that can’t be found in any other city nowadays? What is so special about its history that has given rise to this myth? In 1896, Pierre Louys made two comments in the foreword to his novel Aphrodite :
It seems that the genius of nations, as well as individuals, is, above all, sensual. All the cities that have ruled the world – Babylon, Alexandria, Athens, Venice, and Paris – have, as if following a universal rule, been all the more powerful according to how dissolute they were, as if their licentiousness were essential to their glory. Those cities, whose law-makers strove for an artificial, narrow-minded, and unproductive virtuousness, saw themselves condemned to destruction from day one.
Apart from Paris, the splendour of the other cities has long since faded. Paris, however, still has a magnificent allure. Accordingly, we will need to pursue the “history of sensuality” in order to explain what historical experiences have gone into our image of Paris as the “world’s most immoral city”.
These historical experiences have also left their mark on the history of erotic literature and erotic art. We cannot separate this aesthetic area from the sensual one. Cultural history lives on in collector’s items that can often be found in museums today.
Comments and assessments made by foreign visitors to Paris will also always be of interest to us. As travellers they will have carried Paris’ reputation out into the wide world and thus helped to create the myth of Paris – in a double sense, for they have often come to the city not only as distanced visitors, but also as involved, participating observers, in search of pleasures not found at home. To this extent the reputation of an “immoral Paris” is a self-fulfilling prophecy. In allowing themselves to act out their illicit fantasies there, they could, upon their return and from the comfort of their own homes, condemn them as “licentious”, and thus restore their inner “moral harmony”.
The erotic myth of Paris has been fed by two different sources – not only the concrete developments in moral history whose main features we have attempted to outline here, but also by the fantasies which, especially from the 19 th century onwards, have been projected onto Paris. This myth is an amalgam of fantasy and reality. And anyone who understands it properly will always find a certain sensuous open-mindedness in it. Paris is not a city for moralists.
Erotic postcard Curiosités Parisiennes – Arc de Triomphe , 1904.
Erotic postcard Curiosités Parisiennes, No. 19 – La Bastille, 1904.
Erotic postcard Curiosités Parisiennes, No. 21 – La Grande Roue (The Ferris Wheel), 1904.
Erotic postcard Curiosités Parisiennes – Place Vendôme, 1904.
Coloured lithograph, c. 1940.


The Parisienne – a Chimera?

“The Parisienne [Parisian woman] is the undisputed mistress of the city – now as ever, the city owes all its allure to her. To convince yourself of this, all you need do is go to the races or the parks, to stroll along the Avenue, the Champs-Élysées, the Rue de la Paix or along the boulevards – or even wander through the working-class districts. Everywhere you go, the Parisienne is a feast for the eyes, and nothing is safe from her influence…. Strangers to Paris are soon in for quite a shock for the eyes, as there is little difference in the way a wealthy woman, a petite bourgeoise , a salaried employee, or a working-class woman dress. Whilst in every other city in the world you can almost always tell at once a passing woman’s social class and income, in Paris this is extremely difficult. Even ordinary workaday women and girls look stylish and tasteful, always dressing in the latest fashion. How they manage this is their secret.”
These words open Pierre la Mazière’s essay on “The Parisienne and her World”. But what are her characteristic qualities? What constitutes that “certain something” particular to the Parisienne, which accounts for her special charm? La Mazière answers the question as follows: “A unique mixture of sensibility and subtlety, of humour and grace, of good taste and sensitivity to nuance – but first and foremost an ability to make her body, her face, her whole personality into a work of art and – like no other woman in the world – her skill in wearing only the clothes that suit her.... She exudes the loveliest gift that heaven has given her – her superiority – her genius!” Her fashionable elegance is constantly mentioned.
But her attraction is not limited to fashion-consciousness. She is surrounded by an erotic flair, something often misinterpreted as frivolity or casualness. First and foremost the Parisienne is a work of art, an artefact created in the heads of other people who long to meet her. In her, being a woman becomes something of a fetish: “On every step of the social ladder a woman in Paris is a hundred times more a woman than in any other city in the world,” Octave Uzanne writes in his study The Parisienne (Dresden, 1925). Uzanne continues:
People have written more thoughts, paradoxes, aphorisms, treatises, physiologies, and books both thin and thick on the Parisienne than they ever have about any other woman on earth. Thanks to the Parisienne, for all artists and lovers, streets in Paris turn into a magical Eden of sudden desires, of lightning acts of worship, and strange adventures…. The man who has learnt how to gape long and lovingly can, at any stage of life, refresh himself just by looking, admiring, approaching, and overhearing these pretty female walkers with their lively glances and well-scrubbed faces. His enamoured spirit constantly serenades these graceful daughters of Eve, whom he may never get to know, and his senses remain pleasantly aroused long past manhood’s curfew and twilight hour.
Jean-Baptiste Huet , c. 1780. Sanguine engraving.
Jean-Baptiste Huet , c. 1780. Sanguine engraving.


Just as Venus emerged from the waves, so the Parisienne was created from the enamoured spirit of visitors to Paris. Through her, man discovers his unfulfilled desires; a revelation about what he wants. Even though he will probably never meet her, she nevertheless exists within him as a stimulating fantasy. Uzanne quotes Bonaparte: “A beautiful woman appeals to the eye, a happy one the spirit, a good one the heart.” He continues:
Say what you will, the Parisienne most obviously combines all three qualities. Her beauty, or – to be more exact – her grace is piquant enough to arouse love; her energetic, rarely vulgar, always picturesque sense of fun is, as it were, the blossom and fragrance of our mental health; her profound, unselfish, unspoilt goodness awakens every kind of flattering devotion, all forms of heroism, all manner of sublime enslavement.
More than any other woman, the chimera of the Parisienne evokes an impossible trinity: she is mother, whore, and mistress in the one and same figure. A foreign writer once said of the Parisienne :
As a mistress she is adorable; as a spouse, frequently impossible; as a friend, perfection itself. Adorable as a mistress – it is mainly in this that her total superiority lies, for no matter what her social class, she represents the whole gamut of a woman in love. She is catlike in her use of flattery and childish ideas, as well as in her sudden acts of betrayal with the sudden unsheathing of her claws and sulking by the hearth. Her whims and wilfulness, her untameable peculiarities directed at anyone who wants only to possess her but fails to capture her heart, make her a luxury creature whom no-one but the chosen master, the conqueror, the loved-one can subjugate, dominate, and make happy at his pleasure.
Uzanne paints the portrait of a narcissistic creature who, as a fantasy figure, is simultaneously a collective product. The Parisienne flatters one’s own narcissism. The visitor to Paris who encounters his own erotic desires and vices in this fantasy figure is threatened everywhere by his subconscious – in the form of the prostitute.
The subconscious is wide-ranging and many-sided! It so unsettles a visitor to Paris that his glance verges on the paranoid: “The secret prostitute appears all over Paris,” notes Uzanne, “it surrounds men whatever they do – in the hotel, the restaurant, shops and department stores, in bus offices, in the Louvre and Luxembourg Museums where she dons the disguise of a tourist guide. We encounter her in certain circles – even official ones – where she makes her appearance in a discreet, disguised, almost impenetrable manner.... She manifests every kind of pliancy and takes advantage of any disguise, gradually letting her mask slip and – wisely – only reveals herself at the best possible moment.”
“ Le promenade… est ’ il tres amusante! ” , from the series Femme du monde , 1940. Watercolour.
Mystères de Paris (Mysteries of Paris), c. 1850. Lithograph.


“Other secret sex-workers visit the art exhibitions, the art auctions at the Hôtel Drouot, lecture-halls, the reading rooms at Bon Marché and the Louvre, and the National Library – so familiar to those who work with their minds. In such places they sight serious men, pretending that they are themselves interested in art, sport, literature, and all intellectual pursuits. These are often the most astute – they are the most educated and can converse best.”
Not even in the Bibliothèque nationale are you safe – from your own fantasies! Needless to say, “depravity” is only ever an aspect of femaleness, upon which male lust is then projected.
Subconsciously Uzanne uses a special metaphor, which reveals how strongly a male glance at a Parisienne is affected by fantasies of prostitution. He describes women as “living coins”. It is in fact coins that determine sexual transactions.
Alongside this image of women as a venal “work of art”, however, stands the “artifice” of prostitutes. Metamorphosis and disillusion complement each other: “The prostitute is a child of misery and vice. Her distinguishing mark is artificiality.” For Uzanne, does the “common prostitute” not project merely a negative image of all the qualities he praises in the Parisienne? “She (the common prostitute) wears an apron, fills in her wrinkles with brick-dust, blackens her eyebrows with a burnt matchstick, and sleeks back her greying hair with jasmine or pomade of roses, at two sous [pennies] a box.”
The visitor to Paris awakens from his dream of an erotic Eldorado with crass realism. Intoxication is followed by a sober disenchantment: “The [prostitutes’] main stamping ground is the boulevard. In the cafés to which they have access, they have a better chance of meeting a prosperous gentleman – even if it were only a foreigner of the type who frequent these places because they have a worldwide reputation for sensual opportunities. Furthermore, this reputation is remarkably proper and artificial. Nothing is more monotonous than whoredom; the so-called “pleasure establishments” of Paris bear a fatal similarity to those of all other European metropolises – they are in no respect more fun. Prostitutes everywhere are stupid, mercenary, as bored as they are boring; only when they are drunk will they do anything debauched, and then their sense of fun is even sadder and more depressing than their usual apathy. You’ve got to be quite an optimist to derive any pleasure from following how they move, or what they say and do. A prostitute is a cowed, often starving beast – and she practises a ghastly trade.”
In this way, our image of the Parisienne fluctuates between a transfigured image of a potential mistress always ready for passion and the disenchanted picture of a depraved whore. The two are as closely linked as fantasies are to the real world.
The Parisienne is a phantasm who colours the whole city: Paris itself becomes a female city – desired and disparaged both at once. The fact that this city was able to establish itself throughout Europe and the whole world as being the focus of erotic desires has its reasons in the city’s historical foundations.
Roberty , c. 1890. Watercolour.
Roberty , c. 1890. Watercolour.


Paris could only grow into a topos of erotic fantasy by combining these two developments. By the end of the Middle Ages, Paris was already a city with “metropolitan” forms of life, meaning that a lot of what was later called “Parisian” was in fact simply metropolitan. Moreover, Paris was heavily influenced by a royal Court whose way of life was determined by a dissipated and dissolute life of luxury, and which set an example of licentious morals that invited emulation. The 18 th century, in particular, which was also the Age of Enlightenment and Revolution, was largely responsible for the freedom of morals. These historical experiences continue to this very day in our collective subconscious – and also have an effect on the image Paris still enjoys abroad.
During these years, a kind of public began to develop who removed “love” – itself a relatively recent historical phenomenon – from the sphere of private life and made it a social plaything. The Goncourt brothers provide a relevant description of a typical French woman of this period:
The 18 th century French woman has an original quality about her. Her face changes expression under different regimes. But although her features might be noble under Louis XIV, witty under Louis XV, movingly simple under Louis XVI, her world always remains a stage. The public is constantly upon her, and in the end she performs her play so naturally that she appears artificial when she happens to want to be truthful. Her role in life is hard to play; for this reason a woman must start learning in good time. No matter how far she gets in life, appearance is the key.
On this stage, witty coquetry could be seen. Flirting and wit intertwine and turn love into a social art. This may well have irritated many visitors to Paris – especially German ones.
Gutzkow acknowledges what nowadays we would call the “emancipatory element” of “French love”. The element of “economising” or “budgeting” in love gives the latter a quality of deliberation and reflection. That said, Gutzkow takes refuge once again in a quasi-Wagnerian tone, full of German soul, dominated by profound emotional devotion.
Although middle-class German scientists of sexual matters, on whose works about sexual morals our ideas principally depend, refer to a “deconsecration of love”, this is more than a cultural misunderstanding. “The mind and thoughts, take second place to the insistence of lust,” complains Ivan Bloch, “the life of the soul loses out, and all our thinking and feeling focus on one point: the satisfaction of physical desires.” For Bloch, the 18 th century French – specifically Parisian – love-life is “... nothing but a universal exposure of the body to the fulfilment of physical lust”. Here, no sacred flame blazes up. Even so, it is this emancipation of the flesh from the context of moral restrictions which turns our fascinated gaze time and again towards Paris and the Parisienne . Where would a moralist be without the opposite pole of corruption – something he deeply desires?
Right up until today this image is still valid in any discussion of France as the “land of love”. Thus, in its 8 April 2002 issue, Der Spiegel entitled an article: “Lust in the land of love – Are the French really so lust-bound as contemporary scandalous authors of the Grande Nation currently proclaim? An in-depth analysis reveals the sexual habits of the French.” First and foremost, it asserts, desire has gained in importance over romantic attachment. Increasingly, women go to bed with men without love coming into it. But as late as 1992, 66% still thought this feeling was essential. Since then, however, this percentage has shrunk markedly. Despite the fact we see a trend emerging – in all Western European and American culture, not just in France – we can still, as far as France is concerned, talk about a resurgence of the 18 th century libertine love-culture.
“Never before have the French talked so much about sex – especially not in the first person,” the weekly L ’ Express remarked of this analysis. Never before? You only have to go back 200 years or so to draw the same conclusion! The only point worth making is the effect democratisation has had – what was formerly confined to the aristocracy has at long last pervaded all levels of society!
And still the German exception casts its shadow: in Germany, love still plays a more important role. “Germans,” claims Spiegel, “seem less orgasm-fixated than their neighbours. Tenderness is more important to them. Almost 90%, a victory for German Romanticism, declare that love is an essential precondition for sex.” The “sacred flame” is still burning bright here. Meanwhile, though, for foreigners, the Parisienne will continue to remain the epitome of a desirable, attractive, and appealing woman. Is the Parisienne a chimera? She may be an illusion, but one that really exists.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec , Moulin-Rouge , 1891.
Coloured lithograph, 170 x 124 cm.
Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Illustration for the Le Sphinx brothel.
Engraving, c. 1730.


History: Middle Ages, Renaissance


Paris: Europe’s First Metropolis

“Paris cannot be grasped in one glance: it is not one composition, rather a welter of conflicting compositions. When one says ‘I am in Paris’, one is saying ‘I am nowhere’. It is just an expression. Everyone here lives in a multitude of Parises.” This is how the Russian symbolist, Andrei Belyi, describes the French capital in his memoirs in 1934.
But Belyi would have gotten the same impression 400 years before, for, as early as the 16 th century, chroniclers described the city of Paris as “the wonder of wonders”. Many chroniclers, whose works spread throughout Europe thanks to the invention of printing, wrote about the wonders of Paris.
From the Middle Ages onwards, Paris has been the centre of European culture and intellectuality. What made Paris stand out from all other cities was the fact that it was the first metropolis in the West. Here, there developed urban ways of life which broke down the existing social structure. This new anonymity of social situations helped create a sense of liberation, which in turn brought about various forms of liberty. Ivan Bloch sees a parallel development between the creation of cities and the growth of monetary economies. Corresponding to the late development of capitalism in Christian Europe, there was a complete lack of large cities compared to the Orient and the Islamic West. As far back as the Middle Ages, Cairo, Baghdad, and Constantinople all had populations of around a million people! These Oriental megalopolises were centres of a worldly high life in which, writes Bloch, “... the seemingly inexhaustible sources of wealth gushed out their golden floods; in which a limitless form of luxury arose, an insanely sensual life, a teeming mass of people, such as we can imagine only in ancient Rome or in the ways that modern metropolises like London and Paris have developed.”
As early as the Middle Ages, Paris was one of the largest cities in Europe. And many things that were described as “typically Parisian” were simply “typically metropolitan”. Whilst active daily life began to develop in Italy, Belgium, France, and England as far back as 900 CE, Germany in this period still had no major cities. We can assume that the splendour of Paris shone especially brightly on those neighbouring European countries which were less economically developed. As a “late-developing” nation, Germany was amongst these countries.
The fundamental difference between the East and West was also of great significance for the development of prostitution. Until the Renaissance, there was no real prostitution trade in Europe and a sensual life, such as existed in the Orient, was just as unknown. Such a life could have been said to exist only in some Italian cities like Venice, Florence, and Rome, as well as in Vienna and, as we have seen, in Paris. Even in those days, Paris was regarded the world over as the new Babel, the site of the most sophisticated sensual pleasures. To foreigners, the city revealed itself as an overwhelming conglomeration of sensory stimulation, as an acoustic, visual, and olfactory experience. “It strikes me that I have been plunged into a giant whirlpool, with the raging waters swirling me back and forth like a grain of sand,” noted the Russian Karamsin – representing the many tourists to Paris during the ancien régime who felt the same.
Nowhere, writes Karlheinz Stierle in his study The Myth of Paris , is Europe more European than in Paris! However, “if Paris is the European capital city par excellence, it is also the capital city of foreigners. The metropolis knows no foreigners because everyone in it is a foreigner and this is the common factor, uniting even the most native Parisians with the most exotic foreigners.”
A contemporary, Montesquieu reaches this judgement: “Paris may well be the most sensual city in the world, which is aware of the most sophisticated of pleasures; but it may also be the city where life is hardest” ( Lettres persans ). The restless, universal pursuit of happiness and enjoyment, in which everyone takes part, makes Paris “... a city which is the mother of novelty”. The extraordinary mobility of the mind, which must constantly refocus while in turmoil, is also the reason for moral instability and insoluble ethical dilemmas. Its moral contradictions push the individual to debate with his conscience.
The metropolis is the scene of experiments in humanity. Yet, as Rousseau’s Émile casts back, the city, which has just been the place where everything is possible, appears in a totally negative light: “Well, then, Paris, adieu, famous city of noises, smoke and dirt, where women have forgotten all about honour and men all about virtue.”
Amusement with a hood, Paris, c. 1340.
Embroidered purse, gold and silver thread on linen,
16 x 14 cm. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg.
Bartholomeus Anglicus , Book of the Prophecy of Things , Paris, c. 1400.
Herzog-August-Bibliothek, 1.3.5.1 Aug. 2 fol. 146r°, Wolfenbüttel.


In Nougaret’s three-volume book, Parisian Adventures Before and After the Revolution (1808), there are a number of anecdotes that reflect the spirit of the new age. Nougaret, too, sees Paris as a city of anonymity and alienation:
Everything in this unimaginably vast capital is mixed up; neighbours are strangers, and one only learns about the other’s death by reading the obituaries or by finding a notice pinned to the door when one comes home in the evening…. Do you want to be thought a man who matters? Do you want to live a bachelor’s life whilst you’re married? Would you prefer to be popular or to live alone like a bear? Then come to Paris, because no-one will care how you live or what you get up to.
The city is a whole in which everything, even debauchery, has its necessary place: “Paris needs people of every possible kind, every type of temperament – for they all find their place, even quack-doctors, even cabaret artists and ladies of easy virtue.”
The French Revolution can also be interpreted as the final outcome of this modern “experimental metropolis”. The torch of liberty lit up all of Europe at that time. What chroniclers - whether enthusiastic or alarmed – reported from Paris were impressions that often combined political and erotic freedoms. “For what would a revolution be without universal copulation!”, wrote Peter Weiss in his Marat/Sade play. The Europe-wide influence of the French Revolution established the myth of Paris. “Liberty” was an indivisible concept: Paris, the city of erotica, was also a metaphor for a city of other liberties. In this context, liberty took on not just a political but also an erotic character: it promised a totally different kind of life.
In the period between the July Revolution of 1830 and the February Revolution of 1848, Paris became a refuge for Germans of various different classes and social strata, driven out of Germany by material as well as spiritual hardships. The total number of Germans in Paris increased dramatically in these two decades, until 1848, it had reached 60,000 to 100,000 – a figure which rapidly declined after Napoleon’s coup d ’ état . Paris then became the centre of intellectual opposition to the reactionary political system of the Germanic countries.
For Heine, Paris was the scene of the Zeitgeist itself. In Paris, in the rich tapestry of its daily life which brings forth all possibilities and contrasts, a new European world is born. He writes in 1832:
Paris is not merely the capital of France, but of the whole civilised world ... a place where all its most noble spiritual qualities are assembled. Gathered together here is everything which has achieved greatness through love or hate, through feeling or thought, through knowledge or skill, through good or bad luck, through the future or the past. If you consider the agglomeration of illustrious or outstanding men who meet here, you will regard Paris as a pantheon for the living. A new art, a new religion, and a new way of life are being forged here, and the creators of this new world joyfully swarm about it. The powers-that-be are behaving pettily, but the mass of ordinary people is huge and acutely aware of its great and sublime destiny.
“Creators of a new art and a new way of life” is what, 90 years later, Surrealists also wanted to be; their ideas sprang from the same soil. Paris is a perpetual revolution.
The title of Heine’s book is Französische Zustände (Conditions in France). In fact, however, he is referring only to conditions in Paris, for “Paris is the real France – which is, in reality, only the outer districts of Paris”. And Paris is the surface on which the dream of a new Europe will be projected, on which all erotic desires, as well as political ones, are focused.
Vignettes, illustrations for a calendar, 1650.
Engravings on wood.

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