The Father of Masochism … and other famous L’vivians

It was a sunny day in L’viv, Ukraine and I was strolling along the cobbled streets near the town square when I saw this beautiful and yet slightly quirky statue of a man in formal wear standing in front of a doorway that look like a keyhole.  I stood across the street and tried to determine what this man did or who he was and why he was standing in front of a doorway that looks like a keyhole. My first thought was he must be a magician because the left pocket of his trousers was open like maybe he had some cards or some kind of trick in his pocket. Then I noticed that there was a right hand circling the thigh of his right leg. Whose hand?  Obviously not his why was it there? And then I saw the naked woman on the left-hand side of the lining of his coat and it looked as though she were laying on fur … what’s that about?


Let me introduce you to Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch, the first person with the clinical diagnosis of Masochism – “the enjoyment of pain; tendency to derive sexual gratification from one’s own pain and humiliation with things such as bondage. Pleasure in being abused or dominated.”

His condition was diagnosed by Austrian psychiatrist Richard Freiherr Von Krafft-Ebing who said, ” I feel justified in calling this sexual abnormality masochism because author Sacher-Masoch frequently made this perversion, which up to the time was quite unknown to the scientific world as such, the substratum of his writings. I followed thereby by the scientific formation of the term Daltonism from Dalton the discoverer of colour blindness.”

If you put your hand into the open pocket you will encounter exactly what you expect!


Born January 27th 1836, died 9th March 1895. Austrian writer and journalist who gained some fame for romantic stories of Galatian life; who studied law and history and became a professor.  He wrote about folklore and culture of Austrian history and Galicia specifically.

In 1869 he had an idea for a series of short stories entitled “Legacy of Cain” of the 6 planned volumes only 2 were ever written – one of which was “Venus in Furs” based on his wife and his fantasies about being dominated by women. He is credited with introducing sexually charged and erotic works of deviant behaviour and the pleasure of Masochism to the world.

The story goes that he pressured his wife to engage in this activity, but she refused opening the door for his mistress Baroness Fanny Pistor,  who signed a contract making him her slave for six months with the stipulation that she wear furs as often as possible, especially when she was in a cruel mood.

He found family life boring and eventually divorced his wife and married his assistant.

Sidenote: He was the great-uncle of British singer Marianne Faithful, on her mother’s side.


The literary flea market is just past the red trolley at a small square.

#2. Ivan Federov, produced the first printed book in Ukraine.

Bullied out of Moscow in the time of Ivan the Terrible by the religious leaders because they were threatened by his potential power to print books that would take away their livelihood as scribes; and, be a danger to their monopoly on religious doctrine issues.  He moved to the peace loving city of L’viv, and created the first publishing house, and published the first book in 1574 called “Deeds and Epistles of the Holy Apostles”.  There was an original printing run of 1200 copies and today close to 100 copies have been preserved in libraries throughout Europe and in private collections.


Every day Ivan stands proudly over his flock of booksellers at the daily literary flea market near the market square. I, myself have purchased a few English language novels here.  It is one of my favourite places because of the wide variety, age and subject matter and people you see here.


Support free speech no matter where you are!


Just a quick 2 minute stroll from the literary flea market you will find the statue of L’viv resident Nikifor Drovniak.

#3. Nikifor Drovniak, illiterate “naïve” artist


This man was born in 1895, in a small Polish Village to very poor parents and was orphaned in WW1.   He inherited a hearing and speech impediment from his mother. Because of these environmental conditions he was culturally and emotionally isolated, could not communicate with people and therefore was treated as a misfit in society.

The one thing that he did continuously throughout his life was to create through watercolor and graphic art.  It is reported that he felt that God had given him a mission through the use of color and design.  He would draw on anything he could find … small pieces of paper, cardboard, chocolate wrappers, or the opposite side of used paper, using the cheapest paint available. None of his works were any larger than a standard piece of paper.

He was focused on and devoted to the Greek Catholic church as demonstrated by the subject of the drawings.  Churches, chapels, religious leaders and saints; along with landscapes and railroad subjects.  He also created many self portraits.

No-one really knows how many drawings he had done, but the estimate is in excess of 30,000.  In 1932 a L’viv based artist took the drawings and paintings to  the Leon Marseilles gallery in Paris, France and it was there that Nikifor became a legitimately recognised “naïve” artist. Many of his works are in private collections. There are a few in the National Museum in L’viv but most of his canvases are in the small Polish town of Krynica at his museum.

Although he was a recognised artist he struggled in poverty his entire life, often trading his works for food.  People along the way did help him, but his early life experiences kept him distant from society.

You can learn more about this remarkable man through a 2006 movie called My Nikifor.  Go to:







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