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.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A German Translation of French Femme-Poupees

Looking both defiant and delectable in her roguishly open short robe, this gorgeous gamine is of excellent bisque. She is 5.5 inches tall and incised "Germany" across the back of her robe and "Sp 594" on her round base.

She clearly was inspired by this print by Maurice Milliere, a popular French illustrator of the 1920s and 30s, who gained fame for his "femme-poupees (doll women)," laughing young ladies with lithe limber bodies, smoky eyes, and fluffy curly hair. The print is in fact entitled La Poupee de Milliere, and Milliere did indeed market little poupees of his femme-poupees, chalkware cuties copied from his prints, with a facsimile of his signature on the base.

However, this bisque beauty does not bear Milliere's signature, and, one assumes, his approval. Here she appears in a German catalogue that originally had been attributed to Hertwig and Company. In 2000, the doll auction company Theriault's sold dolls, figurines, and half-dolls from the archives of Hertwig and Company. These included figurines with the "Sp" mark. Later, in The Ladies of Hertwig, Theriault's published reprints of pages said to be from original Hertwig factory catalogues, including this page. Based on this information, I attributed several figurines in my book to Hertwig. However, Marc and Shona Lorrin, in their book, The Half-Doll, Volume 5, reproduced a page from an old catalogue from Limbach Porzellanfabrik showing that the company used model numbers preceded by "Sp" on its figurines. But why did Hertwig have Limbach catalogues and products in its archives? According to the Lorrins, in 1922, Hertwig took a controlling interest in Limbach, which was suffering from financial difficulties.  Standing next to her on the catalogue page is her nude sister.

Here is her long lost sibling, although missing her original bisque base. This little nubile nude is unmarked.