Tales and pictures of naughty nuns, lustful queens and randy noblemen go on display for the first time today when the French National Library unlocks its secret archive of erotic art.
The show of 350 works, ranging from manuscripts by the Marquis de Sade to early pornographic photography, is causing a stir because the library’s trove of licentious literature – known as L’Enfer (Hell) – has been the stuff of fantasy since the early 19th century. L’Enfer, to which “immoral” works were often consigned after police seizure, was closed in 1969. Now that morals have changed (have they really?), the Paris transport authority has even joined the fun, converting a Métro station into a teaser for the exhibition. Underground trains will slow down at the disused Croix-Rouge station so that passengers can glimpse erotic engravings.