Chéri Hérouard (1881-1961) was an artist best known for his illustrative work for French magazines like the Catholic girls’ journal La Semaine de Suzette and the gentlemen’s’ weekly La Vie Parisienne for which he supplied the cover art for over forty years. His eye-catching illustrations were highly popular and reflected the noteworthy changes in art from Art Nouveau through Art Deco to pioneering the more modern graphic art/comic book style of the 1940s and 1950s. La Vie Parisienne was the magazine best associated with Hérouard’s artwork. This society weekly featured risque erotica alongside stories and features on art, theater, film, literature, and fashion. It was kind of like Esquire magazine or a classier Playboy without the naked flesh.
Hérouard was born Chéri-Louis-Marie-Aime Haumé into a reasonably well-to-do family that lived in the fortified city of Rocroi in the Ardennes district of France. His father died from a freak riding accident just days before his birth. His mother remarried into the Hérouard family—from whom Chéri took his surname. His mother and stepfather thought Chéri was best suited for a career in the military—but their son had a very different idea of what he should be. Hérouard wanted to be an artist. He submitted a portfolio of his work on spec to the magazine Le Journal de la Jeunesse. The editor was so impressed by Hérouard’s draughtsmanship, he bought a selection of drawings for publication in 1902. Like most of his work, these drawings mixed fantasy and fetishism—women as fairies or nymphs, or later, movie stars (like Louise Brooks, above) as desirable fantasies. His distinctive style led Chéri to be soon hired as one of the main artists supplying work for La Vie Parisienne which he joined in 1907.
Providing the covers for a hugely popular magazine was enough to ensure Chéri Hérouard’s reputation as an artist. But he also had a secret life as an illustrator of erotica under the pseudonym “Herric.” As Herric, Chéri illustrated several erotic books, most notably the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses, the Kama Sutra, and a series of “spanking novels” like Leurs pantalons (1927) by Jacques Mauvain, Matée par le fouet (1930) by Jean Martinet, Cinglants châtiments (1932) by Walter Flog, Pantalons sans défense (1938) by Jean Claqueret, and L’écrin du rubis (1939) by Liane Delorys. What we learn from such erotica is that the so-called “sexual revolution” didn’t really start in the swinging sixties—there was always a thriving world of sex and sexual experimentation enjoyed by both men and women long before the advent of Playboy, porn, and the contraceptive pill. This secret history is evinced through the diverse artwork of dozens if not hundreds of artists like Hérouard, Suzanne Ballivet, Bernard Montorgueil, and Luc Lafnet, among many others. These artists (many anonymous) produced erotic illustrations from the 18th-century on, and their work documented the growth of interest in fetishism, S&M, role-play, and gender fluidity long before it was deemed fashionable.
H/T Spanking Art, Vintage Fetish Art, The Seed of Europe , Pinterest, and Olympia Press.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Stilettos and spankings: The impossibly buxom blondes of erotic illustrator Bill Ward
Diabolic vintage illustrations of ‘spanking machines’
BDSM, forced feminization & a little light torture: The erotic art of Bernard Montorgueil VERY NSFW
The kitschy erotic art of Suzanne Ballivet (NSFW)