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 15, 2017

Sara La Baigneuse

This nubile nude is a real swinger. In the Victorian home, every possible inch was decorated, including airspace. Bisque and china figurines were made to hang from oil lamps and chandeliers, fan and shade pulls, hanging baskets, or hooks in front of windows. Most of these figurines were both relatively small and innocent, typically cherubic children sitting on a swing. This big bare beauty is extraordinary not only because of the sensual subject, but her size; at 9 inches high and 4.25 inches wide, she is as large as she is lovely.  Of the finest china and decoration, she is superbly sculpted from her tumbled blonde tresses to her delicate bare feet. Her face is that of a Grecian goddess and her full-figured form is exposed in all its voluptuous pulchritude. 

This luscious lady also may have a literary allusion. She appears to have been inspired by the 1838 painting “Sara La Baigneuse” (Sara the Bather) by French painter Alexandre-Marie Colin (1798-1875), which now hangs in the Musée Rolin in France. In turn, Colin was inspired by Victor Hugo’s 1828 poem, “Zara the Bather,” 

In a swinging hammock lying, 
Lightly flying, 
Zara, lovely indolent, 
O'er a fountain's crystal wave
There to lave
Her young beauty. . . . 

A close up of her delicately painted face. Considering the size and weight of this swinger and her previous perilous life perched high in the air, I suspect that not many of Sara's sisters have survived to the present day!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Seaside Siblings

As I have noted previously on this blog, I collect antique dolls as well as bathing beauties, especially German and French all-bisque dolls.   For me, this tiny twosome is a terrific "two-fer."  Just 2 5/8 inches tall, this brother and sister pair are ready for a day of sea and sand in their molded bathing suits.  Unmarked, they are of excellent German bisque and quality.  These little unjointed dolls are called badekinder (bathing children) in German or, as dubbed by American collectors, frozen Charlottes (the boys are frozen Charlies), a name inspired by the folk ballad of "Fair Charlotte." 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Golden Girl

This bronze bathing beauty flings her arms wide to embrace the seaside sunshine, breathing deeply of fresh ocean air. In her exuberance, she is apparently unaware that the top of her 1920s bathing suit has slipped beneath her breasts. Superbly sculpted, with a golden patina, this lovely lithe lass is 9.75 inches tall, including her polished pink marble base, imbedded with intriguing fossils.

Her base is signed with what appears to be "Remi." Although this statuette is clearly by a skilled sculptor, I could not find any similar name or signature in the four-volume "Bronzes, Sculptors and Founders" by Harold Berman. An Internet search found an artist by the name of "Remi Palmier," but the few examples I found of his bronzes are signed with his full name and, frankly, his work is not of the same fine quality. From the late 1800s through the 1920s there were hundreds of workshops and foundries in Austria, Germany, France, and the United States creating small detailed bronzes and statuettes, the most famous of which is the Viennese foundry of Franz Xaver Bergmann.  Many of these bronzes, like this fabulous flapper, were a bit on the naughty side.  With hundreds of artists working during this period, identifying her specific sculptor may not be possible.  But if anyone has any information, I would love to hear from you!