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May 22, 2017

Sexual Revolution: 19th Century Photographs From Personal Collection of Sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing

Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing (1840–1902) was an Austro-German psychiatrist. He published extensively on hypnosis, criminology, and sexual behavior. He is famous for his book Psychopathia Sexualis (1886), a study of “sexual perversity,” and for his coinage of the terms “sadism” (after the name of Marquis de Sade) and “masochism” (using the name of a contemporary writer, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, whose partially autobiographical novel Venus in Furs tells of the protagonist's desire to be whipped and enslaved by a beautiful woman).

Krafft-Ebing was both praised and condemned for his work—praised for opening up a new area of psychological study, condemned for immorality and for justifying and publicizing homosexuality. His work, although not necessarily intentionally, laid the foundation for the “Sexual Revolution” of the later twentieth century in which sexual abstinence and the sanctity of marriage were no longer valued and promiscuity and homosexuality became popularized.

The photographs featured here are part of Krafft-Ebing’s personal collection. It is unknown where they came from or who the people featured in the photographs are, although, at least the first two photographs appear to be unusual specimens of the “French postcard” which was so popular in the late-19th century. One assumes the photographs are linked to Krafft-Ebing’s studies, but as for how or where they were produced and procured is a mystery.

Man with a mustache dressed in women's clothing; he is wearing an exotic costume with corset type doublet and hose, carrying a whip.

Man standing with arms joined above head, wearing a corset type belt, tasselled skirt and ladies calf length stud-fastening boots. He has his hands raised above his head on a ballet style pose.

Man standing facing background and turning head towards front, wearing corset or bodice, ladies shoes and thigh high stockings, long gloves and holding an open fan above his head with both arms.

Man seated, wearing ladies shoes and stockings, ruffle or lace edged open top (bare chested) and shorts or skirt, holding up an open fan. He is seated on a table with his feet resting on a stool.

Man on all fours in red jacket with fully clothed woman riding him and holding a whip. 

Man seated wearing a pink tutu and shoes, black face mask and tiara with large star on top.

Person seated aloft on a covered coffin next to skull and cross bones, reading a book. The face has been crossed through with black ink.

Portrait of Richard von Krafft-Ebing.

(via The Public Domain Review)



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