Vintage Erotica – Édouard-Henri Avril

Édouard-Henri Avril (21 May 1849 – 28 July 1928) was a French painter and commercial artist. Under the pseudonym Paul Avril, he was an illustrator of erotic literature. His career saw collaboration with influential people like Octave UzanneHenry Spencer Ashbee and Friedrich Karl Forberg.

Having been commissioned to illustrate Théophile Gautier‘s novel Fortunio, he adopted the pseudonym Paul Avril. His reputation was soon established and he received many commissions to illustrate both major authors and the so-called galante literature of the day, a form of erotica. However, his reputation as a commercial illustrator of novels was established before he began illustrating the more underground erotic literature. These books were typically sold in small editions on a subscription basis, organised by collectors.

Erotica of that time received very limited prints and sometimes were limited to only 100 or so copies, or were sold only within exclusive circles of collectors. Because of the obscurity of Avril and his works, it is difficult to assess the real impact that his art might have had on culture.

Avril died at Le Raincy in Metropolitan France in 1928

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