It releases a latch, so that the front swings open, revealing that the lovely lass remembered to bring her bathing slippers, but forget to pack the rest of her swimwear. The 7.5 inch-tall mechanical bronze sculpture is softly patinated in several delicate shades. The curtains are a greenish gold and the drapery framing the top edge of the chair is a pale rose. The bare bather's hair, styled in a wavy chignon, and her bathing slippers, tied at the ankle, have a pinkish-gold patina, while her body is a soft gold. She sits on a reddish cushion with golden trim.
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, October 14, 2021
This bashful bronze bathing belle peeks through the drapery of her hooded wicker beach chair. Such chairs were often rented to beach goers by the resort hotel or spa and the deluxe versions came with curtains that could be pulled down for further protection again the sun and wind or for just a bit of privacy. All that can be seen of this demure damsel is her shyly smiling face and her slender feet clad in dainty bathing slippers.
But atop the dome of the chair's "wicker" hood is a little button. . . . Oooh, what does this button do?
The back base of the chair is stamped "Austria" and incised "C. Thenn gesetzlich geschutzt." "C. Thenn" was one of the names used by the Austrian sculptor Carl Kauba. Born in Vienna in 1865, Kauba studied both at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and in Paris. His bronzes are renown for their intricate and realistic detail and the skilled application of multiple colors of patina. He is best known for his images of the American West (although there is some dispute whether he ever actually traveled to America or was simply inspired by the Wild West fantasies of German author Karl May) and his naughty novelty sculptures which went from innocent to improper by pressing a hidden button or lever. "Gesetzlich geschutzt," means that patent rights have been granted and registered for the design.