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.
Monday, August 29, 2016
My article on double bathing beauties by Galluba and Hofmann, entitled "Twice as Nice, Galluba and Hofmann Double Bathing Beauties," is in the September 2016 edition of Antique Doll Collector magazine. Here's a photograph of one scarce double in three different sizes. The largest is 5 inches tall and the smallest is 3.5 inches. Although all three of these terrific twosomes appear in the article, this particular photograph does not.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
This fabulous fun funky flapper lamp features a chalkware bathing beauty sheltering herself from the sun with an oversized parasol that serves as the lamp's shade. The shade still retains most of its fancy fringe of glass beads, probably made in Czechoslovakia.
The old wire runs up through her body, making rewiring to modern safety standards difficult. Fortunately, I bought her because she is a beautiful bathing belle, not because I needed more lighting.
The flirtatious flapper herself is 16 inches high. She closely resembles these plaster poupees (from the fantastic collection of Nannette Rod) modeled after the naughty, but nice, illustrations by French boudoir artist Maurice Milliere.
Although she has suffered a few dings and touch-ups over the decades, overall this lovely lady lamp is in extraordinary condition for her age, considering the fragility of her materials. Such lamps were most likely produced as prizes for carnivals and fairs. This gambling push card offered "the lucky winner" an almost identical lamp.
The picture on the push card shows that the lamp was originally bedecked with two ribbon bows, one covering the place where the stem of the lamp attached to the figure's hand and the other just below the socket. I tried to recreate the bows using fine silk ribbon.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
This luscious lady playing with a cute kitten is by my favorite maker, A. W. Fr. Kister. She is from a series of languid beauties cast in creamy white bisque, carefully highlighted with subtle washes of pale golden-yellow, giving the impression of a sculpture carved in fine marble. In addition to the exquisite anatomically-proportioned modeling, Kister also was a master of capturing movement and mood. You can almost hear the woman cooing softly to the kitten, who mews back to its mistress, see the movement of her soft tresses as they tumble over the pillow, sense the shift of her supple curves as she extends her slim arms upward. . . .
Of the finest bisque, this fine femme and her feline friend are 7.25 inches long. The piece is incised under pillow “11210” over “4,” matching the model number from this page of an old company catalogue.
This pretty maid and her frisky spaniel, featured previously on this blog are also by Kister and appear on the same catalogue page. Perhaps Kister sensed that the world is generally divided between cat people and dog people and designed a figurine to appeal to each market.