The 1920s saw a flowering of art and literature in Latvia, and Vidbergs was kept busy illustrating some of the erotic classics of the period, including Pierre Louÿs’ Bilitis and the first Latvian translation of the Kama Sutra. In 1926 the art publisher Saule (Latvian for Sunshine) put together a collection of 24 of his erotic prints with a foreword in Latvian and French by the art historian Visvaldis Pengerots. The publisher clearly had no doubt what the title should be.

To modern eyes, and even compared with many of the erotic portfolios being produced in Berlin, Vienna and Paris during the late 1920s, Vidbergs’ Erotika is in truth not particularly erotic, more obliquely suggestive. The images tell us more about the nature of relationships at the time than about sensual intimacy, the juxtaposition of stockinged legs and lacy underwear with suspicious male(valent) lurking hinting at liaisons which were probably not very consensual.

Erotika was published by Saule in a limited numbered edition of 1500 copies.

We are very grateful to Hans-Jürgen Döpp for these images; Hans-Jürgen, the compiler of many books on erotic art, curates the Venusberg online gallery and bookshop which you can find here.