Postcard Image

Postcard Image
As the Victorian era passed into the Edwardian and Roaring Twenties, a market developed for bisque and china bawdy novelties and figurines of women in revealing outfits. Although now most of these figurines seem more coy and cute than ribald and risque, in their time they symbolized the casting off of the perceived restraints of the Victorian era.

These little lovelies included bathing beauties, who came clad in swimsuits of real lace or in stylish painted beach wear, as well as mermaids, harem ladies, and nudies, who were meant to wear nothing more than an engaging smile. Also produced were flippers, innocent appearing figurines who reveal a bawdy secret when flipped over, and squirters, figurines that were meant to squirt water out of an appropriate orifice.

Most were manufactured in Germany from the late 1800s through the 1930s, often showing remarkable artistry and imagination, with Japan entering the market during World War I.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

From Riches to Rags

This diminutive and demure damsel seems to have fallen on hard times.  Although she still flaunts her fur stole, her form-fitting silk dress is now faded and in tatters.  The remains serve to how her maker, Galluba and Hoffman, carefully tailored these detailed dresses on its bisque fashion ladies.  The thin silk is lined in mesh and three tiny bead "buttons" decorate the hem of her dress just above her right foot.  Underneath the remains of her once-sumptuous Edwardian outfit, she probably wears  molded undergarments like those seen on her big sister, who appeared earlier on this blog.  Her wig is an old replacement, and originally she wore had a sleek mohair chignon, most likely accessorized with a fashionable and fetching hat. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Flirtatcious Phryne?

This standing siren by Galluba and Hofmann is 8.25 inches high and incised underneath "424P."   Her pose is very unusual, as Galluba's ladies are typically not shy about exposing their lovely faces and graceful hands.

Her pose seems to echo that of the ancient Greek courtesan Phryne in Jean-Léon Gérôme's 1861 painting, "Phryne before the Areopagus."  In this painting, Gérôme rather luridly recreates the legend regarding the trial of this 4th century BC hetaira.  Phryne was accused of impiety and brought before the Areopagus, which served as the high court in Athens.  She was defended by the orator Hypereides, who removed Phryne's robe before the judges.  Moved by her flawless beauty, the judges declined to condemn to death "a prophetess and priestess of Aphrodite" and acquitted her.

However, this Phryne is a bit of a flirt, and peeks out from behind her arms with smoky, sultry eyes and a touch of an alluring smile on her rosy lips. Such an innocent, but inviting, glance would certainly soften even the harshest judge's heart!  Her mohair wig is a replacement.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Jack Frost Nipping at Her. . .Nose?

Although it is mid-October, here in central Texas it is still in the mid-90s.  Hoping to invoke cooler weather, here is a winsome miss sledding down a snow-covered slope on a wintry day.

Although unmarked, she has the typical elongated amber eyes with grey shading attributed to the German company of Fasold and Stauch.  Of excellent china and beautifully decorated, this frosty flapper is 7.5 inches long.

However, the truth must be told, she is not a powder dish, although she makes a delightful one.  I added the legs and marabou pseudo-powder puff.  In fact, I think she was originally intended as a pipe rest.  The hollow cone of the skirt is too shallow to hold powder, and it would tend to spill out, but it would securely cradle a man's pipe.  Leda and her swan swain, who appeared earlier on this blog,  is another pipe rest that often is mistaken for a powder dish.

The image appears to have been inspired by this 1928 French humor magazine cover, created by  illustrator Georges Léonnec, who specialized in boudoir art and risqué cartoons.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bottoms Up!

At least that is what this long-necked lady appears to be saying as she raises high her goblet.  This brass medallion, just over 1.25 inches wide, most likely served as a man's watch fob or dangled from his watch chain.  Certainly this lass is naughty enough, with her bare shoulders and low-cut dress.

But when this cheeky charm is turned over, "Bottoms up!" takes on a whole new meaning.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Happy Couple

Wooing among the waves, this comic couple wear wide smiles (perhaps someone is about to snap their picture and told them to say cheese!).  They stand beside a small trinket dish, painted blue to resemble water, and behind them is an opening that could serve as a short vase.   Of excellent sharp bisque and 3.5 inches high, this playful pair is incised only "2916" around the base of the vase, but it is clearly by the German company of Shafer and Vater. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Cover Girl

I  have written books on bathing beauties, but here is a bathing beauty on a book. She is part of the series of sea sirens by Sitzendorf Porcelain Factory, pictured earlier on this blog.  In fact, I may be personally acquainted with this particular lady and her lobster, as in 2014 I sold a duplicate figurine to a photographer who said the piece might be pictured in a book on Maine!  I am a fan of Ann Beattie, and already had planned to buy her book, but now I may have to buy it in hardcover, rather than on my Kindle, so I can have a picture of my cover girl!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Connecting the Dots

This full figure pincushion doll poses prettily in her polka-dot bathing suit.  Of good china, she is 3.25 inches tall and 2.75 inches long.  Her base, with four sew holes, is faintly incised on right side “Germany” and on left what appears to read “15213.”  

She is by the German firm of Carl Schneider Erban and is pictured in its old catalogues.   This little lass was also offered without the base, either in spotted swimwear or au naturel.  But who is the rather distressed damsel on the right, also adorned in dots? 

She appears to be the bathing-suited version of this nervous nude warding off the little crab climbing her calf, who has appeared previously in this blog.

The catalogue shows a nude version of this crabby cutie without the base.  Considering that the swimsuits are simply painted on, Schneider could easily offer these lissome lasses either dotted and dotless.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Another Gargantuan Galluba Gal

 Although only a half doll, this bewitching belle is one big girl at 7 inches tall.  Although by Galluba and Hofmann, she is of china, rather than the fine bisque more typical of the lovely ladies made by this German manufacturer.  She has her original dark brown mohair wig and is incised on back of her waist with “9544."

Her face is painted in the typical Galluba style, but she lacks the intaglio pupils commonly found on Galluba's lovely ladies.  Note the tiny teeth molded between her parted, smiling lips.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Beach Beau

Summer romance is perfectly portrayed by this superb bisque sculpture of a bathing beauty and her handsome beach beau engaged in a little sweet and innocent seaside flirtation.  The excellent bisque is heavy and sharp, capturing every small detail of this nostalgic scene.

The ivory colored bisque was not left uncolored, but was expertly shaded with faint washes of golden brown, to bring out every tiny detail.

The sculptor and artist lavished as much attention to the back as the front.

Even the sandy beach was not ignored, as at their feet are scattered seashells and the lovely lady's recently abandoned book, no doubt a romance novel.

This seaside scene is 7.5 inches high and is stamped underneath in faint cursive that appears to  read "Perlena," identical to the mark on the pretty poser who earlier graced this blog.  However a fellow collector and friend from Germany contacted me following my earlier posting, explaining that the name is actually "Herbena," the mark of Herbert Behne, who headed a porcelain painting atelier in Berlin in the 1910s. Behne did not manufacture porcelain, but instead bought blank ware from Hertwig and Company and Sitzendorf Porcelain. Below is a clearer picture of the Behne mark forwarded to me by my German contact. It is this sort of generous sharing of information that helps educate all collectors!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Precious Pearls

A friend alerted me to this archival footage from the Library of Congress entitled "Birth of a Pearl."  The footage is by American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, dated 1903.  Ms. Pearl, clad only in a skin-tight maillot, was no doubt an extremely enticing sea siren in her day.

The is a definite resemblance between Ms. Pearl of the film and this bisque version. Incised "6641" on the back of the bottom shell, this precious pearl on the half shell is 5 inches wide. The top of the shell is a separate piece and these fragile lids often were broken or lost over the years.

Probably the most famous luscious lady found lounging within a lustrous seashell is Aphrodite or Venus, the Greek or Roman goddess of beauty, love, and desire, born of sea-foam.  This early version of Venus is from a mural in the Casa di Venus, found in the ruins of Pompeii.

Another version of a nubile nude encased in a shell by English painter Henry Courtney Selous, entitled the "Birth of Venus" and painted in 1852.

Venus meets vaudeville on this poster advertising Australian magician Jean Hugard's famous illusion, "Birth of a Sea Nymph," dating from the 1910s.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

More Brazen Hussies

This very happy hussy, holding high her wine glass, is of heavy bronze.  She has been cold painted to add a touch of color.  Although unmarked, she is most likely of Austrian or German origin.

As an added treat, this trollop's dress lifts off, exposing her ample, and very detailed, anatomy.  She is just over three inches high from the bottom of the chair to her uplifted glass.

And if that is not naughty enough, there is an opening underneath that would have once held an atomizer and a tiny hole between her legs for the escaping spray.

Another metal minx.  Her more slender shape and short tresses suggest she may date from the 1920s. Like the preceding Victorian vixen, she is superbly sculpted.  I have seen a similar figurine, with a removable metal fox fur that draped down her bare body.  Unmarked, she is 4.5 inches tall.

 She also has the connections for a hidden atomizer and a tiny hole between her legs.

These antique erotic bronzes are very collectible and reproductions have consequently appeared on the market.   There are high-quality reproductions from Austria, cast from the original molds and often cold painted, as well as poorer quality copies, often from China or India.  These latter pieces have blurred or missing details and clumsy sculpting.  In this modern copy, the lass has lost her glass, as well as her squirting capacity.  In this piece, not only does the dress lift off, but she can also be removed from her chair. 

Compared to the original, many of the details, such as the tassels of the chair or the tufted upholstery, are poorly rendered, if at all.  Note how in the copy, the woman's full figure has been slimmed down to appeal to more modern tastes and her face and form are rather stiff and roughly rendered.  Sadly, it is not uncommon for unscrupulous dealers to offer these new pieces as antiques.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon

My sweetheart’s the man in the moon.
I’m going to marry him soon.
‘Twould fill me with bliss just to give him one kiss.
But I know that a dozen I never would miss.
I’ll go up in a great big balloon
And see my sweetheart in the moon.
Then behind some dark cloud where no one is allowed
I’ll make love to the man in the moon.

James Thornton (1861 – 1938),  songwriter and vaudeville performer

This week is another moonstruck maiden and her moon man.  These star-struck sweethearts are pictured in my book Bawdy Bisques and Naughty Novelties: German Bathing Beauties and Their Risqué Kin. Underneath, these honeymooners are incised with the Schafer and Vater starburst mark and "1551." 

As you can see from this picture comparing them to the pair in my previous post, these are larger lunar lovers at 5.25 inches tall.   The bigger belle, in her excitement, has apparently dropped her rose, which lies abandoned on the base.  

This view shows the vases in the back, sculpted like swirling clouds.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Over the Moon. . .

. . . about this lovely lass and her lunar lover.  Of excellent sharp bisque and 4.5 inches tall, this cosmic couple is from the factory of Schafer and Vater and is part of a very scarce series of beautiful belles literally on their  "honey moons."  The base is open in the back to form a small vase, perhaps to hold toothpicks or matches.  Figurines from this series are found in both precolored and tinted bisque (if they are found at all!), but to my taste, the tinted bisque best brings out the details of this delightful design.  As it so typical of Schafer's giddy girls, she is clad only in a close-fitting chemise that clings to her curves, black stockings, and orange heeled pumps (and from the grin on his crescent face, the man in the moon does not seem to mind!).  Underneath, the figurine is incised with the Schafer starburst mark and the number "4260." 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What's New, Pussycat?

What's new, pussycat? Woah, woah
What's new, pussycat? Woah, woah

Pussycat, pussycat, you're delicious
And if my wishes can all come true
I'll soon be kissing your sweet little pussycat lips

Pussycat, pussycat, I love you, yes, I do
You and your pussycat lips
You and your pussycat eyes
You and your pussycat nose
Hal David and Burt Bacharach 

Dressed in little more than an oversized cat skin, black stockings, and heeled pumps, this pulchritudinous pussycat is most likely by the unknown maker responsible for many of the toothsome toothpick tootsies previously featured on this blog.

Of excellent bisque, she is 3 inches long and 4 inches high.  A precolored bisque urn by her knees would have once held matches or toothpicks.  There are no marks.

There is some slight resemblance between this lovely lass in her cat cloak and the cruel, tasteless, and frankly creepy, costume donned by Miss Kate Feering Strong for the Vanderbilt's 1883 fancy dress ball.  Inspired by her nickname, "Puss," Strong had a costume created out of white cat skins, including the taxidermied cat head atop her own.  Her nickname is spelled out on her collar, complete with a bell.  As a cat lover, I think another name for a female animal, beginning with "B" and ending with "H," would have been a far more appropriate emblazoned across her throat.      

On a lighter note, lovely ladies dressed up as pretty pussycats was a popular theme in the music halls and theaters.  The final kittenish coquette is the French actress and writer, Colette, as she appeared in a 1912 revue, "La Chatte Amoureuse." 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Nodding Acquaintances

These two rather mature beach boys truly are nodding acquaintances, as their bisque heads bob up and down.  They seem to be sizing each other up rather skeptically.  Maybe they just realized they have inadvertently exchanged beach robes.  They have delightfully detailed character faces and their stocky bodies and oversized hands and feet are well modeled.  The blues and reds of their beach wear were cold painted, but the rest of the decoration is fired and of excellent quality.  Each is 7 inches tall.  The old boy in blue stripes is incised on the back edge of his robe "927" and his companion is marked "9274."  

A friend referred to them as the "Bobb-sey twins."  Wish I had thought of that one!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pretty as a Picture

I have absolutely no wall space, but I could not pass up this beautiful bathing belle portrait.  I love the brilliant colors, the impressionist treatment of water and sky and, of course, the buxom windblown strawberry-blonde beauty in her charming 1910s bathing outfit.

A close up of the face shows this luscious lass was painted by a skilled and talented artist.  Something about the style makes me wonder if this was painted as an illustration for a magazine. The image is 17 inches wide and 23.5 inches high and is painted oil on a panel.

It is signed by a rather odd monogram, which looks something like a "W" interposed over a paw print or stylized blossom. 

A friend has suggested that the monogram resembles that used by Henry Sumner Watson  (1868-1933), who also used the name Hy S. Watson.

Watson was an American illustrator who often worked in oils and specialized in outdoor and sports images. The period is right and the style of painting does resemble some of his artwork. Below is "Reeling One In," a work by Watson that served as the cover design for the July 21, 1921, edition of Field and Stream magazine. I see some resemblance between this painting and mine, especially in the looseness of the brush strokes, the treatment of the white fabric, the young ladies' highly colored complexions and red-blonde hair, and the impressionistic treatment of the waves and sky. It may just be wistful thinking, as many illustrators of the period used similar styles and colors. Admittedly, all of the paintings and sketches I have found so far by Watson are  signed with his name, not his monogram.  When I find the time, I hope to visit the extensive fine arts library at the nearby University of Texas and do a little more research.