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, December 12, 2012

Saul Steinberg's Bathing Beauty

The December 3, 2012, edition of The New Yorker included a review by Peter Schjedahl  of a recent biography of famed cartoonist Saul Steinberg.  Illustrating the article was a 1951 photograph of Steinberg and his wife, Hedda Sterne, posing by a mantel piece adorned with an interesting assortment of objects.   But who is that shyly peeking out from behind the ornate clock?

She appears to be the long lost sister to Ms. #473,  a Galluba and Hofmann fashion lady who was featured earlier on this blog.

I wish I knew the story behind Steinberg's bald bisque bathing belle.  Where did she come from and why did he and his wife give her a place of honor on their mantel?  Was she a gift from a beloved friend, a souvenir found on a trip, a precious present from one to the other?  And where is the little lady now?  Was she passed down as a treasured heirloom or does she sit forgotten and abandoned in some dusty attic or on an antique shop shelf?  If only my silent seraglio of bisque and china could talk--who knows what stories they would tell!

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