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, December 17, 2020

Wanna See My . . .Lady?

A number of posts on this blog have featured female figures with strategically placed kitty-cats, a double-entendre of "pussy" as an affectionate name for a cat and as a vulgar reference to female genitalia. The Barrison Sisters built an entire vaudeville career in the 1890s by showing off their "pussies" on stage. This bawdy bronze is a slightly different play on pussy. A cute kitten sits on a marble base. Its realistic fluffy coat and appealing face are superbly sculpted, highlighted with a deep golden patina. Just 5 inches high, but with substantial heft, it could have served as a paperweight for a gentleman's desk.

Why a gentleman? Well, this prurient pussy swings open to expose a kneeling nude lady, smugly smiling as she clutches a cache of jewels. She has a subtler golden patina than her feline friend, and her hair and gems are a softly-tinted rose.

Almost obscured by the curls in the fur, "AUSTRIA" is stamped on the back rim of the cat. Beginning in the mid-19th century, Austria, particularly in Vienna, was famous for its foundries and ateliers producing finely crafted artistic bronzes. The works covered a wide variety of genres, including classical studies, animals and nature, comic subjects, Orientalist images, and even erotic images. Often the naughty bits were concealed in a seemingly innocuous subject, only to be revealed by a push of a button or lifting a up a piece of metal drapery. There is a wide variety of these Austria sculptures  concealing salacious secrets, with nubile nudes hidden within an assortment of owls, mice, sphinxes, mummy cases, Eastern idols, and, perhaps most appropriately, an iron maiden.


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