Article: Porn of the Past (A Look at the Whores of Yore 1800’s Collection)

As many of you may know I’m not just an adult product reviewer; I’m also an academic, working in the discipline of Art History. My area of expertise is the Victorian period and nothing ruffles my feathers more than being told that the Victorians used to cover their piano legs, such was their prudishness.

I’m sorry, what?

Are you talking about the people who made this?

Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges, One of his Ministers, as She Goes to Bed exhibited 1830 William Etty 1787-1849 Presented by Robert Vernon 1847 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N00358

And this?

Cupid and Psyche exhibited 1867 Alphonse Legros 1837-1911 Bequeathed by Sir Charles Holroyd 1918 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N03274

And this?

Sleep exhibited 1898 Philip Wilson Steer 1860-1942 Presented by Lord Ivor Spencer Churchill 1927 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N04264

As with us, the Victorians may have had some highly contradictory views on sex and sexuality (often veiled in terms of the ‘separate spheres’ in which women were the pure ‘angel of the household’ archetype and men were the ones exposed to the ways of the outside world) but sex, sexuality, and the naked body were still things that many were well acquainted with.

And, as if to remind us all of the colorful history of pornography and the nude,the Whores of Yore has curated an amazing collection of erotic images, essays regarding historical views on the topic, and general musings on said whores of yore.

I don’t wish to say too much on the topic myself (as I believe that the Whores of Yore site does a far more extensive job) but I would like to take some time to show you some of my favorite images from the 1800’s collection and to muse briefly upon what they mean to me.

Who knows, maybe come the end you’ll see the Victorians in a whole new light.

Starting eloquently I give you my current smartphone screensaver; a beautiful nude posed away from us in a display of understated elegance. Her vivacious form is framed by the stairs that she had perched upon and her posterior invites our adoring eyes to gaze upon its plump perfection. But, lustful as the viewer may be, this woman is not concerned with us–her own gaze lies elsewhere as she looks in contemplation out at the view, almost wistfully. This photograph seems almost like a candid moment and yet the deliberateness of the pose reminds us that we are seeing exactly what the photographer (and, most likely, model) wishes.

Also tasteful side boob. Peter Griffin would be proud.

A little bit of bucking around, these two lovely ladies prop their feet up on a stag’s head in a moment of sexual symmetry. Their is an absurdity and a playfulness to this piece. Taxidermy was much more prevalent in the Victorian period and so there would have been no repulsion to the idea of this particular pose. Instead we are greeted with a moment to witticism (and perhaps some male domination) as the women pictured smile for the camera.

Do you think they were told to say ‘cheese’ or ‘venison’?

Chalk this one up to sheer admiration.

I mean….wow.

Uhm…I just…wow.

I’d say someone was doing their yoga but that’s not necessarily historically accurate.

I’m sure this individual would make even Marilyn Manson envious their their clear skills at the art of self-fellatio.

The fact that this was eagerly documented is of note too, and this goes for all of these photographs.

Remember, in the early days of photography a lot of things were still being figured out, including the division of photography from the arts (or if they should be divided at all), the scientific merit of the captured image, and the public demand for various different forms of content.

And amidst all that we are presented with this individual sucking their own cock.

Yes. Emmeline approves.

When this image was shown at Eroticon there was a moment of laughter and confusion even among the most experienced of kinksters. Here we have what I’m pretty sure is one of the very first photographs depicting an inflation fetish for Victorians with such inclinations to look upon with validation and a sense that they actually weren’t alone.

It also goes to show just how receptive the Victorians were to sharing their desires and fetishes through visual formats. There’s very little artifice in these images. Instead there’s a sense that what we are seeing is a true representation of what was lusted after at any given moment.

And, yes, that includes inflation fetishes.

Glorious.

And, finally, I present to you a marvellous display of female empowerment. A nude individual playing the role of Eve as she bites in to the apple that apparently dooms mankind.

However, instead of wallowing, suffering, or prostrating herself to the viewer for mercy, this Eve is confident, assertive even, and full of high spirits.

Even from behind the apple we can see a smile conveyed in her expression. Her eyes, in particular, speak of a certain cheeky self-satisfaction. Like ‘Fuck yeah, I ate this apple. You got a problem with that?’

No ma’am. No I have not.

The posture and expression are particularly powerful in this image, and especially pertinent during Women’s History Month.

Women have been rocking it for hundreds of years and, no, we were never so weak in our constitution that we had to cover up piano legs; we were far to busy posing nude for that malarkey.

This article was made possible via Knicker Rocker Glory and is part of my KnickEroticonGlory series. It is inspired by Kate Lister’s two talks at Eroticon 2017 and made possible by the Whores of Yore site. Please show your support by visiting this site and do look at the erotica collections in full. You won’t be disappointed. 

 

  • Ah wow I loved this! I have an art history background myself but we never really got heavy into Victoriana, so learning about this was fun. Like, I knew the Victorians were weird but this is superlatively odd.

  • AceDenise

    Awesome. My favorite is the one of Eve… I love her attitude, and it looks like she’s not scared of snakes either! And that inflation one was funny- that lady posing with the instrument, making it look as if the air being pumped in would be coming out her mouth, so she can play that horn. It’s both kinky and amusing!