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, May 25, 2017

Plaster, but No Saint

This seductive sultana is of chalkware or plaster.  During the early 1900s, there was a fad for pretty plaster ladies, often dressed in real materials, even if it was just a filmy lace chemise.  Perhaps the best known of these chalkware coquettes are the charming plaster poupees designed by the famed French Boudoir artist Maurice Millier.  I do not know who made this ravishing rani, but she is clad in her original exotic, and somewhat exiguous, outfit.  In surprisingly good shape considering the fragility of her materials, she is 11.5 inches tall and unmarked.  The quality of both the figurine and her costume are quite high for this type of novelty statuette.  Unfortunately, her maker is a mystery.  

She reflects the West's continuing fascination with Orientalism, imaginative and fanciful depictions of a mysterious, seductive, and decadent Middle East.  Her costume appears to have been inspired by the elaborate and lavish costumes created by Léon Bakst for the Ballet Russe's 1910 "Scheherazade." 

In fact, her outfit certainly resembles (sans a couple of thousand dangling pearls) the costume worn by dancer Vera Fokina, who portrayed the unfaithful Zobéide, the favorite wife of Sultan Shahriyar, even to the openings down the front of the legs, the puffy peplum at the hips, and the contrasting bodice.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May,

Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
To-morrow will be dying.
Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

I took this picture for another project, but I liked it so much I decided to include it on my blog.  Both bisque bathing beauties are by Galluba and Hofmann and have their original net bathing suits; the more mature lady, a bathing belle fully deserving of the much-abused adjective "rare," has her original wig as well.  Her expression seems to say, "Let's just see how cute you'll be in another 30 years, buttercup."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Wearing Baubles, Bangles, and Beads

Baubles, bangles,
Hear how they jing, jing-a-ling-a,
Baubles, bangles,
Bright, shiny beads.
Sparkles, spangles,
My heart will sing, sing-a-ling-a,
Wearing baubles, bangles and beads.
I'll glitter and gleam so,
Make somebody dream so,
That someday he may buy me,
A ring, ring-aling-a,
I've heard that's where it leads,
Wearing baubles and bangles and beads.

Kismet, 1953 musical by Robert Wright and George Forrest

This sultry sultana, glittering and gleaming in her molded baubles, bangles, and beads, would be the dream of any collector.  By the German firm of Galluba and Hofmann, this enticing odalisque is only 2.25 inches high.  She is faintly incised "9000" under her hips.

Despite her small size, she has the same excellent bisque and exquisite detail that Galluba lavished on on its larger ladies.