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, November 29, 2018

Midnight at the Oasis. . . .

Send your camel to bed
Shadows painting our faces
Traces of romance in our heads
Heaven's holding a half-moon
Shining just for us
Let's slip off to a sand dune, real soon
And kick up a little dust

1973, written by David Nichtern, sung by Maria Muldaur

Completing the theme of erotic bronzes from fin de si├Ęcle Austria is this Middle Eastern maiden posing provocatively under a palm tree.  The palm fronds conceal a lightbulb and this lovely lamp is part of a series featuring various Arabic-inspired scenes under a sheltering palm.  Of cold painted bronze, it is unmarked, but is no doubt from one of the many Austrian foundries that produced finely sculpted and cast bronzes in the late 1800s through the 1930s.  A significant number of these bronzes engaged in Orientalism, with fanciful depictions of a mysterious, seductive, and decadent Middle East.  The lamp is 11 inches tall.

A close up of the barely-robed water bearer.  The cold painted patina is susceptible to wear, especially at any protruding edges, revealing glimpses of the gleaming bronze underneath

Thursday, November 15, 2018

"Mirror, mirror, in my hand. . . ."

. . . .who is the fairest in the land?"  As posted previously on this blog, there was a fad for artistic smoking paraphernalia in the early 1900s, especially ashtrays of bronze and stone.  This kneeling miss admiring both herself and her necklace in her hand mirror is yet another example.  Although this sculpture is signed only "Austria"on the back of the cushion, I attribute this bronze belle to Bruno Zach (1891–1945), a Ukrainian artist who studied sculpture in Vienna and became renown for his bronze sculptures, many of an erotic nature. The woman's extreme oval, almost egg-shaped, head with delicate sharp features and brushed-back hair is very typical of Zach's early ladies. The use of colored patina, such as the silvering on her stockings and the rose tint on her beads, is also found on many Zach pieces.  Beginning in the mid-19th century, Vienna was the home of many foundries and ateliers producing finely crafted bronzes to adorn the homes and offices of those wishing to subtly display their taste and wealth.  She is 4 inches high and her ashtray base of onyx is 7 inches long.

This close up shows the wonderful details of this diminutive sculpture and the subtle use of patina.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

What a dish!

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, "dish" can refer to "a more or less concave vessel from which food is served" or "an attractive or sexy person." And this bronze beauty is a dish in all senses of the word!  Of dark bronze and creamy onyx, this dishy dame is eight inches tall.  She is beautifully sculpted and cast, from her smiling face to the clinging top that has slipped down to bare one breast. . . . 

. . . . to her ruffled undergarments and dainty bare feet.

Her upper torso lifts off, revealing that her tiered stony skirt is composed of three translucent nested onyx dishes (originally, there were four, but one has dish has disappeared over the decades).  The dishes could have been used for nuts or other nibbles, but I suspect they are more likely a set of fancy ashtrays, as there was a fad for artistic stone and bronze smoking paraphernalia in the early 1900s.

She is signed "Charles Austria."  Beginning in the mid-19th century, Vienna became the center of many foundries and ateliers producing finely crafted artistic bronzes to adorn the homes of those wishing to subtly display their taste and wealth.  I have not been able to find any information regarding "Charles," but the name could refer to the sculptor, the foundry, or perhaps even an exclusive store offering such expensive specialties.