Following the success of the Aretino volume, it was Avril’s graphic illustrations for an edition of the German scholar and philosopher Friedrich Karl Forberg’s De Figuris Veneris when it was published in French that solidly established his reputation as an illustrator of erotic texts. The book, originally published by Forberg in 1824, is a collection of ancient Greek and Roman scripts on erotica, now more commonly known and published as The Manual of Classic Erotology.
Forberg discusses erotica and sexuality in a direct and objective manner, and Avril’s contributions to the French edition are both explicit and sensual. Not only was this a milestone in erotic illustration, its depictions of every aspect of sexual activity including homosexuality, lesbianism, group sex, and even bestiality, was incredibly advanced for its time.
The Avril-illustrated edition of De Figuris Veneris was published by Charles Hirsch in a limited numbered edition of 500 copies. The translation is by Isidore Liseux and the introduction by Alcide Bonneau.