Bawdy satire on Southern Germany nobility

[Erbach - Counts of Erbach-Schoenberg]. Bawdy caricature of the family of Erbach-Schoenberg.

No place, ca. 1760-1770.

Oblong 8vo (142 x 100 mm). Watercolour drawing on paper with handwritten annotations in German.


A bawdy caricature poking lewd fun at members of the aristocratic German family of Erbach-Schönberg, licking each other's backsides in exaggerated humility. The centre of attention is Carl Eugen Count Erbach-Schönberg (1732-1816), reclining on a sopha and baring his haunches, a lively red from a recently-administered beating (captioned "dearest arse"); on his right are his three siblings Augusta Frederica Countess Giech-Thurnau (1730-1801), Carolina Ernestine Countess Reuss-Ebersdorf (1727-96), and Gustav Ernst von Erbach (1739-1812), as well as an unidentified gentleman in a simple coat with an eyeglass in hand (probably a pastor or physician).

The words put into Carl Eugen's mouth are, "Siblings dearest, I was not aware that you so hanker for beaten arse, go right ahead, wholeheartedly it is at your command". Gustav Ernst claims, "Licking is my joy, and you must know, such a beaten arse, o, is it not fine!, I long to plunge into it until I reach the very heart"; while Caroline Ernestine asserts, "I, too, do like something dainty".

Whilst the historical circumstances of this caricature remain a subject for further research, it is evident that the artist had no high opinion of the family from southern Germany's Odenwald region. The undated drawing is surely roughly contemporaneous with Goethe's 1773 play "Götz von Berlichingen" about the eponymous adventurer-poet from the same area, who famously told a captain of the Imperial Army to "lick his arse" (a quotation expunged from the later editions).

All persons are numbered in the artist's hand, while the key is provided on a separate, modern sheet (included). A tiny paper flaw, not touching the image, otherwise very well preserved. A highly uncommon item.

Stock Code: BN#58416 Tags: , ,