"A little something for the Oscar Wilde fans out there: this charming photo of Lord Alfred Douglas was taken at Oxford in 1891. No wonder Oscar was bowled over…"
(As well as the above picture submitted complete with caption, a dear follower has sent me some definitive information on a previous photograph of Bosie, clearing up a mystery at last - which I have edited to include in the relevant place, here. I thank you for your kind contributions!)
One of the better-known sets of early homosexual pornography, this remarkable selection of photographs documents the varied erotic exploits of a pair of very daring Frenchmen in the 1880s. Likely to have been recruited for these racy endeavours from a Parisian brothel, they show no inhibitions in performing before the camera, and indeed appear to be enjoying themselves immensely - the fellow with the magnificent moustache seeming to wear a smile every time we can see his face.
Though there is nothing deliberately provocative about this young man’s pose, nor a suggestive look to be seen in the shadows of his down-cast eyes, there is something undeniably sultry and erotically charged about his photograph - perhaps that stern mouth hints at a moody pout, perhaps the twist of his wrist a slight pride in showing his body for admiring eyes.
I was delighted to find two photographs which so clearly belong together, an interesting pair of consecutive shots from an 1870s studio session in which the rather mournful-looking young fellow on the left cannot decide whether to keep on his bowler hat, or remove it for his picture; and so they sit for two portraits one after the other.
A favourite 20th Century photograph I have feautured before, but not in such glorious, gorgeous close-up clarity! Frank Eugene’s Archer of 1914 wonderfully displays his signature style - the soft focus, dramatic shadowy lighting, the addition of a prop to create a scene instead of the usual academic pose, and subtle use of nudity for aesthetic appeal rather than eroticism. Utterly exquisite!
The faded colouring of this imperfect print does little to detract from the beauty of the image, if anything the softened, subdued shadows give it a delicate loveliness, and visible evidence of each individual photograph’s survival down the decades only adds to the appeal of collecting pictures so very old.
Many of Frank Eugene’s photographs are of an ethereal beauty - ghostly figures indistinct in leafy glades of mist and shadows, works of imaginative and otherworldy charm. It is, then, a somewhat startling departure to see such a mundane, down to earth photograph, taken in 1912; a simple indoor scene of an ordinary man, oh-so-casually drawing aside his silk dressing gown to reveal his nudity. The model is, in fact, the photographer’s own brother Frederick L Smith, further grounding this in reality - not a magical moment with a model specially chosen for his exquisite looks, but a simple and unromanticised image of great appeal.
A superb photograph by von Gloeden, the first and generally acknowledged as the best of the Arcadian photographers working in and around Italy from the 1880s through to the Great War. A young man’s likeness captured forever, in striking close-up detail, effortless grace in his poised posture, and though it is but a small (and not often provocative) part of a beautiful whole, I am especially impressed by his perfect shoulders.
There are three possible reasons for this unusual image - either this gentleman was a strongman depicting one of his famed feats, breaking iron bonds with nothing but musclepower (and, presumably, a rigged link of soft metal which would part and bend easily), or he could have been an escapologist about to wriggle free using skill rather than brute strength. Lastly, he could merely be modelling for an artist’s reference photograph, somebody who wished to paint a character captured and chained.
Unfortunately I’ve been unable to discover which is the true explaination, but wished to include him regardless of the unknown origin.
Regrettably small in size but entirely agreeable in both subject and composition, this stylish photograph was taken by Guglielmo Plüschow around the turn of the century. A strapping young man in the prime of life, the deep shadows from a high summer sun only emphasising the impressive definition all down his muscular torso, and those long luscious legs! Somehow his pose imparts a certain pride in his appearance, a satisfaction in flaunting his body before the camera - this is no subtle shot with classical allusions to excuse the nudity, and yet it remains tasteful all the same.
A Gem indeed; often the card frames and mounts for vintage photographs are discarded, of no value compared to their more enduring glass-fronted counterparts which may be emptied and sold on, but seeing such a photograph still in situ after all these years is always pleasing. Someone kept this, held it in their hand - one of the men in the picture, perhaps, or another who cared about them both.
While their most famous photographs are undoubtedly that utterly enthralling, adorable set in which they appear together, both Vincenzo and Edoardo were favoured models who also posed for Plüschow on other occasions. Here it is the beautifully sun-bronzed Edoardo who displays his fine physique amid the ruins of antiquity, and I like the gentle, considerate addition of some soft padding to save his knees from the abrasive stone.
Male nude study.
Another shot of the same strongly-built gentleman we have seen previously, proudly exhibiting his magnificently muscular body in a second pose.