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, May 2, 2013

Visions of Salome

A friend forwarded me an online article announcing that interpretative dancer Maud Allan's original Salome costume, currently held by the Dance Collection Danse (DCD) in Toronto, Canada, will receive treatment from the Canadian Conservation Institute.   
Once conserved, the costume will join other Maud Allan artifacts in DCD's extensive Allan archives, which, according to the article, include a bisque nodder. . . .
and Salome cigarettes.
In fact, Ms. Allan, during her brief stardom as the "Salome dancer," inspired all sorts of diverse memorabilia.  The name "Salome" may invoke many visions, but a waltz is probably not one of the first to come to mind. . . .

Although born in Canada in 1873, Maud Allan moved with her family to San Francisco, California, while a child.  She became an accomplished pianist and in 1895 traveled to Berlin to continue her music studies, but in 1902 abandoned the piano to become a dancer of "musically impressionistic mood settings."  Allan, who designed her own costumes and created her own choreography, first debuted in the title role in “The Vision of Salome” in 1906, but it was in 1908 when she appeared on the London stage that her Salome achieved stardom. Her two-week engagement stretched into 18 months and she became one of the most famous and wealthy female performers of her time.  After her triumph in England, Allan would tour Europe and the United States, but her fame quickly faded. The fad for interpretative dance was passing as troupes such as the Ballet Russes combined the freedom of interpretative dance with the discipline of ballet, creating a new, polished, and more challenging form of modern dance. In 1918, Allan returned to England to star in Oscar Wilde's "Salome," and became enmeshed in an unsuccessful libel action that ultimately destroyed her reputation and career (for more information regarding the "Black Book" trial, I recommend Philip Hoare's book, Oscar Wilde's Last Stand).
In my book, Bawdy Bisques and Naughty Novelties, I have a chapter devoted to Ms. Allan and the bisque and china Salomes she inspired. 

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