From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Avril studied art in various Paris salons. From 1874 to 1878 he was at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. Having been commissioned to illustrate Théophile Gautier's novel Fortunio, he adopted the pseudonym Paul Avril. His reputation was soon established and he received many commissions to illustrate both major authors and the so-called "galante literature" of the day, a form of erotica. These books were typically sold in small editions on a subscription basis, organised by collectors.
Avril illustrated such works as Gustave Flaubert's Salammbô, Gautier's Le Roi Candaule, John Cleland's Fanny Hill, Jean Baptiste Louvet de Couvray's Adventures of the Chevalier de Faublas, Mario Uchard's Mon Oncle Barbassou (scenes in a harem), Jules Michelet's Woman, Hector France's Musk, Hashish and Blood, the writings of Pietro Aretino (Sonetti Lussuriosi (1524) by Pietro Aretino in 1882), Histoire de Dom Bougre, Portier des Chartreux and the anonymous lesbian novel Gamiani. His major work was designs for De Figuris Veneris: A Manual of Classical Erotica by the German scholar Friedrich Karl Forberg.
List of works
- Illustrations to Fanny Hill by John Cleland
- First published in this French edition:
- John Cleland: Mémoirs de Fanny Hill. Entièrement traduits de l'Anglais par Isidore Liseux. Réimpression textuelle de l'edition de Paris, 1887. Paris: 1906 [Charles Hirsch] 2 volumes. Limited edition of 300 copies. 12 engravings by Martin van Maële done in 2 states, b/w and color plus additional illustrations by Paul Avril.
- Sonetti Lussuriosi by Pietro Aretino, 1892
- Friedrich Karl Forberg: De Figuris Veneris. Manuel d’érotologie classique Traduit littéralement du latin par Isidore Liseux. Dessins de Paul Avril gravés par Théophile Fillon. Paris: Charles Hirsch 1906.
- Le Gant - Le Manchon, Paris, Quantin 1883. Cover and illustrations (Note: le manchon = the muff)
- The Mirror of the World, with one hundred and sixty illustrations by Paul AVRIL, Octave Uzanne: The Mirror of the World, with one hundred and sixty illustrations by Paul Avril, 1889
- Histoire de Saturnin....., [Charles Hirsch], Paris 1908