The French are known for their enjoyment of all things sensual – food, wine, art, sex… and its not only a recent phenomena. Some of the most daring, expressive and indulgent creations originated in historical France. Poets, writers, artists, chefs… and magazine publishers.
I love browsing through the titillating old covers of La Vie parisienne (the Parisian Life) magazine. Founded in 1863, it was published without interruption until 1970. When the magazine changed hands in 1905, the new editor Charles Saglio changed its format to suit the modern reader, transforming it from a general arts magazine into a mildly risqué erotic publication.
I imagine one of the main attractions for readers were the covers and full page color illustrations by popular Art Nouveau and Art Deco illustrators of the time such as George Barbier, Chéri Herouard, Georges Léonnec and Maurice Milliere.
If you like a your art a little bit naughty, you can immerse yourself in one of the largest collections of La Vie parisienne magazine artwork in the UK at The Advertising Archives
Slow and sensual in a sun-dappled park; enthusiastic and artless on the banks of the Seine; fast and furious down a cobbled lane-way … Paris is the ideal place for kissing, and has been for decades (or centuries?)
There are many gorgeous images of passion in Paris, captured on paper, canvas, or through the lens of a camera, but there is one that—for me—captures the essence of the City of Love.
Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville (The Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville) was taken by the great French photographer Robert Doisneau. It’s a photograph of a couple kissing, in the midst of a crowd. The image was captured on the corner of rue du Renard and rue de Rivoli, across from the town hall, in the Spring of 1950.
Doisneau’s pictures made the private and the personal visible, focusing on people to make a connection with the viewer. There is an excellent article about how he used friends and actors as models, in response to privacy laws (yes, even back in the 1950’s).
For as long as I can remember I have harboured a fascination for the legendary Joséphine Baker (the titillating image her nickname ‘the Black Pearl’ brings to mind may have contributed a tiny bit. She is well known for her erotic dancing, after all.)
I’ve only recently become aware of the many reasons she earned her status as a legend of the 20th century, though. For a poor, fairly uneducated girl, it is extraordinary all that she achieved in her lifetime.
I have just begun the final edit on one of my novels, which began its life as an erotic romance. I am re-working it as women’s fiction with erotic elements, and some of the scenes need to be cut or heavily edited, like the one below (with an added embellishment at the end).
The novel is set in Paris. Henri is a French businessman; Lilianne is a suburban divorcée, visiting from Melbourne, Australia in search of her mother.
“I hope you don’t mind ma chérie, Maree is on her way up.” Disappointment at the idea of company was evident in Henri’s voice.
He’d been a perfect gentleman during dinner, charming and attentive, but the thrill when our gazes met was less than civilized.
Henri’s privileged background was so different to my own suburban upbringing, but the chemistry between us was indiscriminate. The lightest touch of his fingertips on my lower back as he pulled out my chair at the beginning of the meal had me yearning for more contact. The heated lust in his eyes whenever he found an excuse to brush my skin proved him a conspirator in our attraction.
Was I hoping this gorgeous man would seduce me? Could I protect my barely healed heart if I ended up in his bed?
It would be all too easy to follow wherever the night led: I was already in his home, an apartment that reflected the sleek, understated charm of its owner. Continue reading →
Welcome to my dedication to all things sensual. I am a lover of beauty in all its forms and seek to capture the essence of what I admire in my writing and art: drawing, painting, photography.
This blog was inspired by a recent trip to Paris where my every sense was delighted, from the aroma of freshly baked delicacies to the unique architecture. I am now an admirer of the innate sensuality of the French and their passion for all forms of beauty: art, fashion, the human form, literature, conversation, food, wine, nature.
I hope to use this space to share my discoveries… be they images, words or both.