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.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pretty as a Picture

I have absolutely no wall space, but I could not pass up this beautiful bathing belle portrait.  I love the brilliant colors, the impressionist treatment of water and sky and, of course, the buxom windblown strawberry-blonde beauty in her charming 1910s bathing outfit.

A close up of the face shows this luscious lass was painted by a skilled and talented artist.  Something about the style makes me wonder if this was painted as an illustration for a magazine. The image is 17 inches wide and 23.5 inches high and is painted oil on a panel.

It is signed by a rather odd monogram, which looks something like a "W" interposed over a paw print or stylized blossom. 

A friend has suggested that the monogram resembles that used by Henry Sumner Watson  (1868-1933), who also used the name Hy S. Watson.

Watson was an American illustrator who often worked in oils and specialized in outdoor and sports images. The period is right and the style of painting does resemble some of his artwork. Below is "Reeling One In," a work by Watson that served as the cover design for the July 21, 1921, edition of Field and Stream magazine. I see some resemblance between this painting and mine, especially in the looseness of the brush strokes, the treatment of the white fabric, the young ladies' highly colored complexions and red-blonde hair, and the impressionistic treatment of the waves and sky. It may just be wistful thinking, as many illustrators of the period used similar styles and colors. Admittedly, all of the paintings and sketches I have found so far by Watson are  signed with his name, not his monogram.  When I find the time, I hope to visit the extensive fine arts library at the nearby University of Texas and do a little more research. 


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