The first in the series of THE HUNDRED AND TWENTY DAYS OF SODOM viewed by an artist



The Marquis de Sade is the world’s greatest pornographer. Writing at the time of the French Revolution he produced a series of indecent masterworks which were as extreme as anything written thereafter. If there is an art in pornography he gave it birth. But he also killed it. He has never been excelled, the flowering of an individual genius followed by the mimicry of lesser artists. After the Marquis de Sade there was nothing more to be said, he had said it all.

The Marquis de Sade is also a considerable philosopher. His pornography acts as a vehicle for an ongoing diatribe against Church and State. His political treatise Français, encore un effort si vous voulez être républicains is a scathing denunciation of Order and Justice. Thus the Marquis de Sade fiercely opposes capital punishment. Why? Because killing someone for reasons of law or logic can never be justified, it is impersonal and inhuman and fundamentally cruel. The only purpose for killing someone is if it brings pleasure or pain to the one who kills or is killed. He is the anti-Christ of cold justice, the Savonarola of extreme emotions.

The One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom is the Marquis de Sade’s first major work and also his masterwork. He wrote it while imprisoned in the Bastille during the last days of the Ancien Régime. He wrote it in secret, and stored it within the brickwork of his cell. A few days before the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, he was hurriedly released and had no time to take his manuscript with him. He begged his wife to return to the Bastille to retrieve the manuscript but she was unable to do so before the Bastille was stormed and destroyed in the frenzy of the Revolution. The Marquis de Sade spent the rest of his life bemoaning that his greatest work had perished forever. In fact one of the looters found the manuscript and took it home with him. It remained in private hands for more than a hundred years without anyone else being aware of its existence. The One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom only surfaced for public gaze in the early part of the twentieth century.

Why does virtually no one read The One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom? Why is this masterpiece of pornography celebrated by title and author, yet its content remains almost entirely ignored? The answer lies in the aberration of its quality. It is so intensely obsessive and hateful and hurtful that it crushes you beneath the violence of its emotions. It is too extreme. Whereas banal pornography can titillate and arouse, The One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom leads inexorably towards exhaustion and revulsion. It is a strange reader who can read it as if it was just another work of literature.



The life of the Marquis de Sade was as terrifying as his pornography. His privileged upbringing was brought to an abrupt end when his mother in law, who first adored and then detested him, used her influence at the court of Louis XVI to have him imprisoned under a “lettre de cachet”, an order of the King, which could not be challenged by any process of law. For twelve years he languished in the prisons of the Ancien Regime, first at the Chateau de Vincennes, then in the Bastille, without any idea when he might be released.

In the early days of July 1789, crowds gathered on the streets outside the Bastille. The Marquis de Sade bellowed to them from his cell to rise up and free the prisoners. He became too dangerous for the authorities and was abruptly moved at the dead of night, 4 July, to the insane asylum at Charenton. The Bastille was stormed on July 14th and the Marquis’ chief jailer was decapitated by the mob. The prisoners of the Bastille became heroes of the Revolution, and The Marquis was released to become a leading member of the new Republican order led by Marat, Danton and Robespierre.

His freedom did not last long. With the Revolution becoming more extreme, his aristocratic ancestry made him a suspect, and on 8 December 1793 he was arrested. Charges were drawn against him and the date for his trial set for 27 July 1794, when it was certain he would be condemned by the revolutionary tribunal. It was the height of The Terror with Robespierre triumphant and hundreds publicly guillotined each day on the streets of Paris. By pure accident the Marquis de Sade was not brought to court on the designated day. This chance saved his life because that same day saw the coup against Robespierre who was guillotined instead.

As the Republican Revolution waned, de Sade’s fortunes foundered. He had no revenue and lived in greater and greater poverty, a pauper on the streets of Paris. His efforts to make a living by having his plays performed and his books published led to his final demise. The notoriety associated with the clandestine publication of Justine, ou les malheurs de la vertu outraged the Bonapartists. He was arrested and imprisoned, for a second time, in the insane asylum of Charenton, where he was held indefinitely under the illegal and arbitrary whim of the Emperor Napoleon. The restoration of the monarchy in 1814 made no difference. Louis XVIII continued his incarceration at Charenton under an even more severe regime. Thus the Marquis de Sade spent almost his entire adult life as a prisoner, a prisoner of the King, a prisoner of the Republic, a prisoner of the Emperor and finally a prisoner of the King again. More than any man in History, the Marquis de Sade was an Enemy of The State.



Gérard Beringer was brought up by his loving parents in a tiny country village in the Ardeche region of France. His father worked in a factory near the outskirts of Lyons, his mother an Italian immigrant, kept home. He was a sickly boy and spent almost all his days at home drawing and painting. The village lay close to a mediaeval fort, the Chateau de Thorrenc, which became the subject for many of his childhood drawings, and which today evokes his vision of the Marquis de Sade’s Chateau de Silling in The First Day of Sodom.

On the few occasions when he managed to attend the local village school, he did not join the other children in class. The local teacher recognised that he was only interested in art, and left him alone to decorate the school buildings with whatever he fancied. As a result of this informal education, he found himself without any qualifications and was apprenticed to become a house painter as his sole means for earning a living.

His life changed dramatically when an art lover stumbled across his drawings and took him to the Ecole des Beaux Arts at Valence, where he was given a scholarship and the means to continue his passion for art. His final graduation project was a series of drawings to illustrate Le Mort by Georges Bataille, which the examiners considered to be a work of such extraordinary accomplishment that they arranged for him to be sent to Paris to pursue his career.

His early years in Paris were supported by art dealers and patrons who gave him free lodging, often in the homes of their mistresses, while he eked out his living with what he could sell. The quality of his art was appreciated early with a series of exhibitions in Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, and Tours, culminating in three major solo showings at the prestigious Galerie Berggruen in Paris and international renown with exhibitions in Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Geneva, Madrid, Montreal, Oslo and Rome.

He now lives in his own studio near the Place Pigalle, and spent over a year immured within its confines working incessantly on his chef d’oeuvre, the art works which illuminate The First Day of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade, and which are presented to public view in this volume.


1971 Paris, Dessins pour ‘‘Le Mort’’ de Georges Bataille, Galerie Jacques Desbrières 1972 Paris, Anomanies. Galerie du Triangle 1972 Bruxelles, Anomanies. Galerie Montjoie 1972 Rennes, Anomanies. Galerie Jobbé-Duval 1974 Marseille, Autoportraits. Dessins et Photographies peintes, Galerie Athanor 1976 Genève, Autoportraits. Pastels et Dessins, Galerie Bernard Letu 1977 Amsterdam, Autoportraits. Dessins, Galerie Fijnault 1980 Paris, Portraits. Pastels et Dessins, Galerie Jean Briance 1984 Paris, Intérieurs, Paysages et Portraits, Galerie Berggruen 1985 Oslo, Natures mortes et Portraits, Galerie J.M.S. 1987 Paris, Portraits d’apparat, F.I.A.C., Galerie Berggruen 1988 Madrid, Portraits, Temperas, ARCO, Galerie Berggruen 1989 Paris, Dessins 1969-1989, Galerie Berggruen 1990 Madrid, Retratos, Galerie Barcena y Berggruen 1993 Paris, Portraits gra·vés, Emmanuel Boncenne, editeur, SAGA, Grand Palais 1994 Paris, Portraits, Galerie Philip 1994 Turin, Portraits gra·vés, Galerie Studio Ricalcati 1996 Pontoise, Temperas, Dessins, Gravures, .Musée Tavet-Delacour 1996 Atlanta, Portraits, Gravures et Dessins, Galerie Timothy Tew 1998 Auxerre, Gravures, La Passerelle 1999 Bordeaux, Gravures et Temperas, Galerie Théma 2000 Paris, Dessins, Galerie Bernard Dulon 2000 Lyon, Dessins, Gravures, Galerie Le Lutrin 2012 Privas, Portraits & autoportraits, Peinture dessin, Théâtre de Privas


1972 Bruxelles, Dessins et aquarelles, Galerie Montjoie 1972 Paris, 8 ans- 8 jours, Galerie 3+2 1972 Anvers, Erotic Art, Spectrum Gallery, 1973 Paris, Les Animaux, Galerie Axis 1974 Copenhague, Cinq Dessinateurs contemporains, Institut français 1976 Paris, Les Vampires, Galerie Bijan Aalam 1976 Paris, Trait pour·trait, Galerie Jean Briance 1977 Paris, Onze propositions, Galerie Etienne de Causans 1977 Marseille, Figures du dessin contemporain, Galerie Athanor 1977 Paris, Les Miroirs, Galerie Bijan Aalam 1978 Ancy-le-Franc, les Chemins de la création, C.A.C. 1978 Paris, Peinture au beurre, Galerie Jean Briance 1978 Paris, Dessins, Galerie Jean Leroy 1978 Tours, Tours Multiple, Ville de Tours 1978 Paris, F.I.A.C., Grand Palais, Galerie Jean Briance 1979 Paris, Dessins, pastels, peintures, Galerie Jean Briance 1980 Ancy-le-Franc, Chemins de Ia création, C.A.C. , Chateau de Tanlay 1980 Rennes, Panique universelle, Maison de la Culture 1980 Paris, F.I.A.C., Grand Palais, Galerie Jean Briance 1981 Jouy-en-Josas, Le Réel et L’Imaginaire • Les Réalismes d’Aujourd’hui, Centre Canrobert 1982 Paris, Le Dessin français contemporain, Musée de la Seita 1982 Neuchâtel, Autoportraits de Rembrandt à Hockmey, Galerie Ditesheim 1983 Paris, Le Dessin français contemporain, exposition organisée par le Musée de la Seita : Centre culturel français, Milan: Centre culturel franco-italien, Turin : Centre culturel français, Rome, Budapest, Llubljana, Skopje, Varsovie, Cracovie 1984 Paris, F.IA.C., Grand Palais, Galerie Berggruen 1984 Tanlay (Yonne), Souvenirs d’un musée à la campagne 1965-1981, 1984 Ancy-le-Franc, Chemins de Ia création, C.A.C., Chateau de Tanlay 1985 Paris, 30 Peintres - 30 Pastels, Galerie Atelier Lambert Rouland 1985 Tanlay, Matisse et cinq dessinateurs, C.A.C., Chateau de Tanlay 1985 Paris, F.I.A.C., Grand Palais, Galerie Berggruen 1986 Paris, Autoportraits contemporains, Musée de la Seita 1986 Paris, Maitres-Graveurs Contemporains, Galerie Berggruen (catalogue avec sérigraphie de Gérard Beringer) 1987 Paris, Accrochage hiver 1987-1988, Galerie Berggruen 1987 Paris, F.I.A.C., Grand Palais, Galerie Berggruen 1988 Saint-Quentin en Picardie, 1ere Biennale lnternationale du Pastel- 1ere Prix Maurice Quentin de la Tour 1988 Cergy-Pontoise, le F.R.A.C. lle-de-France, Prefecture du Val-d’Oise 1989 Etampes, Huit artistes figuratifs - Dernières acquisitions du F.R.A.C. lle-de-France, Hôtel Anne de Pisseleu 1990 Toulouse & Paris, Le Visage dans l’art contemporain, Musée des Jacobins, Toulouse ; Musée du Luxembourg, Paris 1990 Châtillon, Châts à Châtillon, Pavillon des Sablons 1991 Saint-Michel-sur-Orge, Figuration et Abstraction, oeuvres du F.R.A.C., Espace Marcel-Carné 1993 Paris, Nioques. Des écrivains. Des peintres. Au lieu dit du livre La Sétéré, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris 1993 Paris, Estampes, Galerie Philip 1994 Paris & Lyon, La Vie, L’Amour, La Mort, Dix ans de criatiou photographique autour du SIDA, Galerie photo de la F.N.A.C. 1997 Pontoise, Natures mortes du XX’ siècle, Musée Tavet-Delacour 1999 Sens, Galerie Abelard 2004 Saint-Quentin, Nouveaux regards sur le pastel, Galerie Saint-Jacques 2009 Sens, Dessin, Galerie Abelard 2010 Pontoise, Musée, La collection Devès Musée Tavet-Delacour


Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris (F.N.A.C.) Musée National d’Art Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain d’Ile-de-France, Paris (F.R.A.C.) Musée Tavet-Delacour, Pontoise


by the / du Marquis de Sade and / et Gérard Beringer

Publication date: To be confirmed

New English translation will be provided by publication date
ISBN 978-0-9572966-6-4
Artwork copyright © 2013 by Gerard Beringer

Publisher: Tambar Arts Ltd
Hamilton House
Mabledon Place
London WC1H 9BB
Tel: +44 (0) 207 554 8584
Fax: +44 (0) 207 554 850

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