"Method of this work: literary montage. I have nothing to say only to show" --Walter Benjamin

Pornokrates (1879) by Félicien Rops
In the history of 19th century erotica, the previously shown L’Origine du monde (1866) by Gustave Courbet is only equalled in evocative power by the above Pornokrates by Belgian artist Félicien Rops.
While L’Origine du monde evokes the beginning of the world and the eternal feminine, the woman in Pornokrates stands for an apocalyptic end time.
The work of Rops, echoing the fin de siecle spirit which portrayed women as femme fatales, as destroyers of the world as it were, was summarized by contemporary Joséphin Péladan by saying that it represents “l’Homme possédé de la femme, la Femme possédée du Diable" (Man possessed by Woman and Woman possessed by the Devil).
Pornokrates illustrates the previously mentioned shift in 19th century culture from the persecuted maiden to the femme fatale trope.
Interestingly, if we follow Peladan’s analysis, man is possessed by woman, woman is possessed by the devil, it would seem that the devil is portrayed as pig. Arguing in favour of the woman: she is blindfolded and perhaps unaware who is leading her, giving her just a dash of the qualities of an ingenue.
I’ve written about my first exposure to this work back in 2007, here[1].

Pornokrates (1879) by Félicien Rops

In the history of 19th century erotica, the previously shown L’Origine du monde (1866) by Gustave Courbet is only equalled in evocative power by the above Pornokrates by Belgian artist Félicien Rops.

While L’Origine du monde evokes the beginning of the world and the eternal feminine, the woman in Pornokrates stands for an apocalyptic end time.

The work of Rops, echoing the fin de siecle spirit which portrayed women as femme fatales, as destroyers of the world as it were, was summarized by contemporary Joséphin Péladan by saying that it represents “l’Homme possédé de la femme, la Femme possédée du Diable" (Man possessed by Woman and Woman possessed by the Devil).

Pornokrates illustrates the previously mentioned shift in 19th century culture from the persecuted maiden to the femme fatale trope.

Interestingly, if we follow Peladan’s analysis, man is possessed by woman, woman is possessed by the devil, it would seem that the devil is portrayed as pig. Arguing in favour of the woman: she is blindfolded and perhaps unaware who is leading her, giving her just a dash of the qualities of an ingenue.

I’ve written about my first exposure to this work back in 2007, here[1].

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    Pornokrates (Félicien Rops, 1879).
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