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.

Friday, February 18, 2022

The Big Reveal

This bronze belle covered in a cloak is another mechanical bronze work by Carl Kauba

Of golden bronze, this lovely lady holds out her cloak, patinated dark brown. Her concealing covering is secured by a large bow in the front.

Well, not exactly secured, because the bow is actually a clasp and when it is released, her arms gracefully swing open to reveal her beautifully sculpted nude body.

Kauba's signature appears on the back of the base.

I have always wondered if Kauba cloaked coquette might have been inspired by the American interpretative dancer Loie Fuller, pictured here in a 1893 poster designed by Jules Cheret for the Folies Begere. Born in 1862 as Marie Louise Fuller, she began on stage as a child actress, growing up to become an actress and a dancer. She experimented with flowing silk costumes and multicolored lighting, introducing her "Serpentine Dance" in 1891. Clad in a long dress consisting of multiple yards of thin silk, she held the ends of the skirt in her hands, waving and twisting it as she danced, creating spiraling forms as she exposed and concealed her body, while the changing colored lights suggested everything from flickering flames to ripples of water. In 1892, Fuller joined the numerous American dancers who traveled to Europe for artistic recognition. She settled in France and regularly performed at the Folies. Fuller and her swirling veils became a popular image of the art nouveau movement. She established a dance troupe and continued to experiment with costume and lighting, receiving patents for many of her innovations.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Put Through the Hoops

The fashionable crinoline or hoop skirts of the mid-1850s to the late 1860s, as appeared earlier on this blog, were a target of sometimes tawdry humor. This crinoline-clad miss seems every inch the most prim and proper lady. Perhaps that is a prayerbook tucked under her arm?

Peek underneath and it appears that this maiden's prayer has been answered, as there is a dashing suitor concealed under her crinoline. The crinoline cage a created bell-shaped skirt, sometimes as wide as six feet. Wags wondered what women did with the ample empty space secreted under all that fabric. One salacious suggestion was that a young lady might use her supersized skirt to hide her lover from a suspicious chaperone or meddling mama. Of fine china and delicately painted, this early figurine of a lady and her undercover lover is 5.5 inches tall and unmarked.