The Forbidden Art of Vintage Erotic Pictures (NSFW)
Marijn Kruijff
3 min

The Forbidden Art of Vintage Erotic Pictures (NSFW)

3 min

In the previous article we examined the origins of vintage erotic pictures. Below you can find the follow-up…


From the 1870s and 1880s processes had been invented for developing photographs from negatives, enabling them to be mass-produced. (Earlier formats, such as daguerreotypes, tintypes and ambrotypes, were one-off, direct positives which could not be mass-produced).


The photographic formats included gelatin silver prints, albumen prints, real-photo postcards, hand-tinted real photo postcards and sepia-tone photographs and postcards. Multiple generations of duplicate photos were made from the same originals.

Japanese vintage erotic picture featuring a threesome

Japanese vintage erotic picture featuring a ‘Threesome‘ (c.1920s)

Today’s Pornography

The picture postcard,coming on the scene in the 1870s, did much to hasten the popularization and dissemination of erotic/pornographic photography. The heyday of the erotic postcard reached from the 1890s through the 1930s.

Erotic Poses

These erotic and pornographic postcards, which were never intended to be sent through the post, are often more outspoken than today’s pornography. It was, for instance, not uncommon for minors to take part in erotic poses, and there are many postcards showing dogs copulating with women.

Japanese vintage erotic picture geisha (c.1880)

Japanese vintage erotic picture ‘Geisha‘ (c.1880)


They have no pretensions to art. They are explicit and maybe shocking, perhaps even frightening, to some. Today, most people are not used to seeing photographs of naked people who are not beautiful.

Gustav Klimt

They show the plain simple truth of the sexual act in nearly infinite variety, and bear little resemblance to the rarefied, exotic work of erotic artists of la belle époque such as Aubrey Beardsley, Felicien Rops, Gustav Klimt or Franz von Bayros.

Western vintage erotic picture featuring a Threesome, one female is performing oral sex (c.1910s)

Western vintage erotic picture featuring a ‘Threesome‘ (c.1910s)


Over the past 150 years, most of the many thousands of vintage pornographic photos and postcards produced were suppressed, outlawed, seized and destroyed by the authorities – or by disapproving private citizens – until the entire output was nearly wiped out.
A few rare have survived.

Some of them can be found on > Erotic Photos Photography.

Western vintage erotic picture (tinted) featuring a Threesome with fellatio (c.1930s)

Western vintage erotic picture (tinted) featuring a ‘Threesome with fellatio‘ (c.1930s)

Western vintage erotic picture featuring a white woman performing fellatio on a black man' (c.1920s

Western vintage erotic picture featuring ‘a white woman performing fellatio on a black man‘ (c.1920s)

erotic picture Taisho era

Japanese erotic photograph ‘Intimate couple‘ (Taisho era, 1912-1926)

vintage Japanese erotic picture

Japanese vintage ‘shunga‘ photograph depicting a young prostitute – Meiji period (1868-1912)

vintage shunga photograph

Vintage ‘shunga‘ photograph depicting a bored prostitute – Meiji period (1868-1912)

More info (and many images) on this subject can be found in the book Forbidden Erotica – The Rotenberg Collection published by Taschen.

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Click HERE for the other article on vintage erotic pictures…!!!

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