Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Evans, Sarah (Assistant professor of art history)

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art and Design


Wegener; Gerda Criticism and interpretation; Transgender artists--Denmark; Erotic art; Sex in art; Gender identity in art; Art history; LGBTQ studies; Gender studies


This thesis examines the representations of sexuality and gender identity in Gerda Wegener's erotic illustrations in Les Delassements D'Eros: Douze Sonnets Lascifs ("The Amusements of Eros: Twelve Lustful Sonnets"). In 1925, Gerda Wegener, a Danish artist, collaborated with Louis Perceau, a French poet and connoisseur of erotica, to illustrate a book of erotic poetry known as Les Delassements D'Eros. Her illustrations consist of twelve watercolors, called aquarelles, with female-female sex as well as other sexual mythological and carnival imagery. For many years, both the author and the artist were unknown because the book was published anonymously due to its erotic content. The popular female model in her artworks was her husband, Einar, who in 1930 underwent the first successful sex reassignment surgery to identify as a woman. Through the inclusion of Einar as her female model in her illustrations as well as female-female sex, Gerda pushes and blurs the boundaries of gender and sexuality during the early twentieth century in Paris. Her works explore the fashioning of identity and the collapse of cultural barriers, and express a passion for women and beauty, all of which are still relevant today.


Advisors: Sarah Evans.||Committee members: Barbara Jaffee; Diana Swanson.


104 pages




Northern Illinois University

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