This bizarre vase is part of a series by Hertwig and Company of Germany. This particular peculiar piece was entitled "Der Gutmutige" (the good natured). Atop the bald pate of a monocled man perches a young woman in a short glittery dress. There is a hole on one edge of the monocle and corresponding holes in the woman's hands, and if a cord is run through the holes, the woman appears to be playfully tugging at the man's monocle (as one friend said, she has "caught his eye"). Judging from the lady's brief and garish outfit, she is perhaps a showgirl of some sort and the man is her good natured and generous sugar daddy. Of the finest sharp bisque, with excellent modeling and details, there is an opening in the back of the man's skull. Incised underneath "1273," this piece is 5.5 inches tall.
This a copy of a Hertwig catalogue page picturing the entire strange series. They are from left to right, the "The Lovers," "Grass Widow," "Merry Widow," "Suffragette," "Those Dames," "The Good Natured," and "Their Dream." Note that the number in the catalogue matches that incised on the bottom of the above vase.
A friend sent me this picture of another of these Hertwig oddities. This one, according to the catalogue page, is "The Lovers." What at first glance appears to be an out-of-place waterfall is actually the lady's fashionable fur stole and matching muff.