Pierre Louÿs was never afraid of taking risks in his prodigious output, and among the many secret manuscripts discovered after his death, subsequently auctioned off and scattered among collectors, was the manuscript of Trois filles de leur mère (The Three Daughters of Their Mother). In the introduction, Louÿs writes ‘This book is not a novel, it is a true story in every detail. I have not changed anything about the mother and her three girls, their ages, or their circumstances. The narrative is wholly inspired by the free relationship between the author and the wife of José Maria de Heredia and her three daughters.’

Written around 1910, describes in the first person the developing sexual relationships between the writer and a thirty-six year old prostitute, Teresa, and her three daughters, twenty-year-old Charlotte, Mauricette, fourteen and a half, and Lili, ten. The daughters, having learned well from their mother how to please themselves and their client, engage in an amazing variety of sexual exploits.

Just how autobiographical the book is is open to question, though Louÿs’ reference to Teresa de Heredia, whose daughter Louise he was married to for several years, gives it an edge of credibility. Beyond its possible autobiographical value, the work draws its power, its realistic dialogue and its love of transgression from the bourgeois universe to which the author belonged. According to André Pieyre de Mandiargues, who wrote a preface in to a a new edition in 1970 ‘This text is the ideal of the erotic ​​genre, and constitutes masterpiece of Pierre Louÿs’ masterpiece.’ For those who can read French, there is a complete online text of Trois filles here.

It may have been that the commission for Trois filles, coming from a private collector for a strictly limited edition, allowed Chimot more time to create the drawings than his standard Deux-Rives fare, as well as proving that he could actually draw genitals. Whatever the reason, this portfolio shows that he could be an original and imaginative erotic artist when given the chance.

Trois filles de leur mère was privately published ‘Au dépens d'un amateur pour ses amis exclusivement’ (at the expense of a collector exclusively for his friends), in a limited numbered edition of 350 copies.