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.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 36

Magnificent Ms. #402  is a towering 14 inches tall.  Of the finest china and workmanship,  she is stamped underneath in blue with the crosshatched “S” of A.W. Fr. Kister and is incised “10417.”  On the base in bold gilt letters is "SALOME.”  Her beautifully detailed costume, what there is of it, is an exact copy of that worn by interpretative dancer Maud Allan  when she performed her most famous role in “A Vision of Salome.” Allan, who designed her own costumes and created her own choreography, first debuted as Salome in 1906, but it was in 1908 when she appeared on the London stage that her Salome took the world by storm.  Her two-week engagement stretched into 18 months and she became one of the most famous and wealthy female performers of her time.  Germany companies such as Kister and Galluba and Hofmann cashed in on Allan's fame by creating Salome figurines copied after a series of postcards Allan posed for. 

After her triumph in England, Allan went on to tour Europe and the United States, but already her fame was fading.  The fad for interpretative dance was passing and troupes such as the Ballet Russes were combining 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).

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