Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden (1856 – 1831) was one of the earliest gay photographers of the male nude. His best known images those enormously popular among the Victorians. depict nude boys in garlands or scant robes acting out Homeric themes; but many of his other images, which once totaled over 3,000, are ahistorical, elegant studies of the male body.
Von Gloeden's work is generally remarkable for its technical innovations in shooting outdoors, its kitschy use of "classical" motifs, and its homoerotic content despite the social mores of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. For contemporary gay viewers, the several hundred surviving images evoke a dreamy vision of forbidden desire, idyllic innocence, and a bygone era of agrarian sexual openness.