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.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Last of the Brazen Hussies

This post covers my final example of a Schafer and Vater bisque naughty novelty that has been copied in bronze.

This 5.25 inch long flipper is of excellent sharp bisque and has the caption "Monna Vanna" incised across the nubile nude's diaphanous veil.  "Monna Vanna" was a 1902 opera by Maurice Maeterlinck, which takes place in 15th century Italy, where the army of Florence  has laid siege to Pisa.  Monna Vanna, a beautiful and virtuous Pisan noblewoman, agrees to come to the tent of the leader of the besieging forces clad only in a mantle if he will allow food to enter Pisa to feed her starving fellow citizens.  I suspect Maeterlinck envisioned a much more substantial mantle.

The flip side of Ms. Vanna.  This piece has been reproduced in Germany and the copies are often sold as antiques.  One version is glazed solid pink or green to imitate the precolored bisque often used by Schafer.  The other version is of good white bisque and colored like the original.  However, in the copy, the colors tend to be deeper and brighter and the painting, especially the facial painting, is carefully, almost stiffly, done, unlike the usual freer and loser hand typical of Schafer decorators.

Here is the metal model of Monna.  The folds in her cloak and the flow of her long tresses are almost identical to bisque version, suggesting that some foundry copied the Schafer figurine for this casting.

The end of both Ms. Vanna and my series of immodest metal maidens.

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