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Do you recognize this scantily clad woman?
November 29, 2010 10:38 AM   Subscribe

I found this framed vintage image of a lightly dressed woman at an antique store in southern Colorado. Disassembling the frame, I noticed that the image seems to have been printed on paperboard, and it may be one portion trimmed from a larger poster. It's a monochrome image with limited use of color -- the yellow of her garments, the pink of her cheeks, the light blue cast to the background. TinEye was not helpful. I am hoping some MeFite who recognizes the woman or the image can tell me who she is or where the picture comes from. Failing that, some general guesses on the picture’s vintage or provenance would be welcome.
posted by Joey Bagels to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If you're guessing that it may be from a larger poster based on the board it's printed on, then I'm not sure that's a fair assumption. I've run into a lot of old photographs printed on various kinds of card stock. Plus, if it's from the 20's (+/- 10 years) as it looks to me I think large photographic prints were pretty uncommon if not outright unavailable. I can't think of having seen any anyway.

I base my dating mostly on intuition... the cues are pretty small and don't narrow it down incredibly. The style, tinting, and print on the fabric (real definitive, I know) just say 20's to me. I'm not any kind of expert on these kinds of things, I just go through a lot of boxes of old photographs at flea markets.

It's definitely an awesome find, though.
posted by cmoj at 10:51 AM on November 29, 2010


From the hairstyle and body type, my first guess is that the original photograph is from the 1920's or thereabouts. And probably vaguely pornographic for the time. Maybe something associated with the Ziegfield Follies or the Folies Bergeres, or a similar type of vaudeville/revue/cabaret performance?

What are the measurements of your portion of the image?
posted by Sara C. at 10:57 AM on November 29, 2010


Whups, forgot that detail. It's about 18.5 inches high by 8 inches wide.
posted by Joey Bagels at 11:09 AM on November 29, 2010


I'd guess some kind of lobby card from a burlesque revue or the like.
posted by Sara C. at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This person isn't someone I remember seeing before, so I doubt she was a movie actor or national headliner in burlesque of that era (1920s-1930s, per hairstyle and makeup), and the quality of the photo in terms of rendering, composition, and tinting doesn't seem up to the publicity that would be done for someone performing at that level.

My guess is that Sara C. is on the money about it being a lobby card from a local theater. It's cool! I love the wacky proto-Op Art proto-bikini!
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:16 AM on November 29, 2010


Definitely a risque image for the time, most likely not famous. I agree with late 20s as the time period (based on her physique which was the trendy one about that time, and hairstyle).
posted by Miko at 12:44 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Definitely a risque image for the time, most likely not famous. I agree with late 20s as the time period (based on her physique which was the trendy one about that time, and hairstyle).

Not so fast, Miko. Claudette Colbert appeared topless in Cleopatra. Hedy Lamarr did full frontal (in a foreign movie, but with a serious, non-porn script). There was full frontal female nudity in Lang's masterpiece, Metropolis, as well.

This is pre-Hays Code, and nudity wasn't as taboo as one might think in film and photography.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:26 PM on November 29, 2010


Sure, but this is definitely still a sexualized image. The way that the lower curve of her breast is visible would read as somewhat risque even now. And even pre-code film didn't objectify women quite as blatantly as that image does. Hence my guess that it's got something to do with burlesque or the like.
posted by Sara C. at 10:42 PM on November 29, 2010


I know lots about the Hays Code and the 1920s, but this is not an image you'd find in a mass-market general-interest magazine or in advertising in a public place. It's risque.
posted by Miko at 5:55 AM on November 30, 2010


Sure it's risque, and wasn't run in Time or something, but the content is in no way uncommon for the period.
posted by cmoj at 8:40 AM on November 30, 2010


I don't think anybody said it was uncommon - the OP wanted to know where the picture might have come from, and I think show card is a good guess due to the nature of the content. Or maybe arcade card, like this or these or these great Mack Sennit cards featuring movie celebrities. On reflection, I think arcade card is a really good guess. It reinforces what I was saying - arcades were not considered harmless as they are today; they were for 'sporting' young men and were associated with gambling and drinking. If it's an arcade card, there's an outside chance it's a celebrity, but as with today's erotic photography it's much more likely to be an unknown model trying to make a living in "show business."

I'm saying late 20s because she's got a little bit of Kewpie-doll plumpness and does have breasts of some size, as opposed to the super-flat chest that was the ideal during the height of the flapper era. The style moves a bit more toward the soft, wavy hair, full face, and bow lips that were a popular look in the early 30s.
posted by Miko at 9:47 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


And even pre-code film didn't objectify women quite as blatantly as that image does.

I'm not saying this would have been posted on a church bulletin board, Sara C., but if you think Claudette Colbert's nipples, Hedy Lamarr's bush, and the naked babes chasing the fully-clothed hero around aren't this blatant as a little underboob....
posted by IAmBroom at 3:24 PM on November 30, 2010


Thanks, everyone, for the speculation. I wasn't even familiar with the term "arcade card," and (based on Miko's image links) it looks like that may in fact be what I've got.
posted by Joey Bagels at 7:20 AM on December 2, 2010


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