Saturday, 22 October 2011

Venus from the Rear: Early Twentieth Century nudes from French Postcards

Well, well and what do we have here!

The publishers of erotic French postcards (although of course most of them were never designed to be sent through the mail) at the beginning of the twentieth century often had to remain one step ahead of the law (although these postcards became a little more acceptable after the Great War).

 The Classical artist's approach

As a result,nearly all of their photographs are anonymous as the use of one's real name would soon have had the gendarmes calling.  Some studios used a little logo or set of initials to identify their product, as we can see on some of these examples.

From the twenties the ever popular through the keyhole approach

The publishing of these cards took a hit at the end of the decade when the Great Depression severely reduced the number of American tourists (the biggest group of purchasers) to the capital.

So these pictures are from the great decades of naughty French postcards from 1900 until 1929.  It is almost impossible to date them, of course, but the girls with longer hair are probably pre-World War One and the short-haired girls are probably from the nineteen twenties.

Most of the models were prostitutes or showgirls and many of those appearing on the postcards at the time had neither very good figures nor attractive faces. 

These ones, however, are a cut above the vast majority and so here we present a few sturdy French derrières from around a century ago.

A more contemporary spin on the theme of the bather
Most people, of course, would have had no idea what a good female figure was, as they would never have seen a naked woman unless they had access to art galleries.
For those who had been to art galleries many of these poses would have been quite familiar, as many of the photographers copied the styles of classical sculpture and neo-classical and renaissance painting.

This nineteen twenties girl has had a vaguely classical pot added to the forground in order to keep up the pretence that it is a classically inspired art piece.

Forty years before Penthouse started including them in their pictorials this girl is posed with some cut flowers in a vase.

The addition of contemporay elements, like this enticing young lady's stockings, take the picture away from the faux classical and into the present.

Vaguely ancient looking accessories such as this plinth and the girl's headdress would have just kept this image within the bounds of art-justifiable respectability.

These two reclining images also adopt a painterly approach and eschew any modern trappings.

These two images from the twenties, however, demonstrate the racier contemporary approach seen more after the Great War.  There is no pretence at classicism or apeing artistic conventions, these are just two girls flashing their posteriors for erotic effect.

And why not?

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