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, May 8, 2013

A Flea in Her Ear. . . .Or, A Little Farther South

Madame, the flea that crept between your breasts
I envied that there he should take his rest.
The little creature's fortune was so good
That angels feed not on such precious food.

John Donne (1572-1631), On a Flea on His Mistress's Bosom

For centuries humans have been fed on by fleas.  Yet these nasty blood-sucking, disease-spreading parasites engendered a genre of early eroticism, the flea hunt.  The image of a nubile young woman intensely searching her naked milk-white skin in the intimacy of her boudoir appeared in everything from fine art to bawdy ballads.

Woman Catching a Flea, Georges de La Tour, 1638.

But fleas are tiny, and sometimes the pursuit for the pest requires a posse, so it was not uncommon to also portray a helper, often husband or lover, literally shedding a little light on the hunt.

The Merry Flea Hunt, Gerrit Van Honthorst,  1628

Although certainly far later, the concerned couple in In #546 continue this historic erotic theme.  Of excellent china, this 4.5 inch tall figurine is finely painted and beautifully detailed.  It is marked only with a faint and partial blue crown underneath.  The concentration on the helpful husband's face as he holds up the candle and bends closer to better scan his wife bare breasts is truly touching!  Schafer and Vater also produced a flipper featuring a lone female searching for a frisky flea.

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