The better edition, with hand-coloured plates

FAMIN, César

Musée royal de Naples. Peintures, Bronzes et Statues érotiques du Cabinet secret

Publication: Paris, Vve. Dondey-Dupre pour Abel Ledoux, 1857.

FAMIN, César, Musée royal de Naples. Peintures, Bronzes et Statues érotiques du Cabinet secret

A famous work, here in the expanded edition with 60 plates with original hand-colour.

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Our Notes & References

The extended edition, with 60 plates, most with bright and fresh original hand-colouring, showing erotic subjects taken from the secret cabinet of the King of Naples (now the National Archaeological Museum), with some pieces coming from Pompei and Herculaneum and uniting an unprecedented collection of erotic antiquities. This cabinet was closed and reopened multiple times, with limited access upon request, until finally in the early 2000s only when this part of the museum was open to all public. The first official catalogue of the cabinet’s collection appeared only in 1866, without illustrations.

About half the plates of this edition depict sculptures in various media, while the other half show scenes, individual people, Gods and couples, often with a touch of humour. The comments by the historian and diplomat César Famin (1799-1853) are also of particular value, detailing hidden and sometimes surprising meanings of the symbols of each image. Famin stayed in Naples as a chancellor of a French consulate and was granted access to the cabinet by the museum authorities.

The first edition of this successful work, published in 1831, had only 41 plates without colour.


Robert de Machiels (probably Robert de Machiels-Clinbourg (1880-1965), a French writer and playwright; ownership inscription to upper fly-leaf).

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Physical Description

Quarto (30 x 23.4 cm). Blank leaf, half-title, steel engraved title, title, XXI p., half-title, 163 pp., 60 engravings by A. Delvaux, most with original hand-colour, some black and white.


Burgundy half calf over red cloth boards, raised bands with a title and fillets in gilt, blind rules on boards, marbled endpapers.


Binding a bit rubbed; occasional foxing and minor staining, a couple marginal closed tears.

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