Bisque ‘Nudie’ Witch, 1920s
The witchy figurine above is of a type known to specialists as a “Nudie.” It is unsigned, there is no maker’s mark and nothing quite like it appears in Sharon Hope Weintraub’s Bawdy Bisques & Naughty Novelties (2005), or on her website here [but see the update below]. As Weintraub explains, it is often difficult to tell whether a bisque figuring that lacks clothing today was originally sold nude. The fact that our plump, rosy-cheeked witch is bare-foot and has her hands and legs locked into a position that would make dressing and undressing impossible suggests that she was sold naked as a ‘Naughty Novelty’. Though there is no maker’s mark, the figuring is almost certainly German, from the Weimar period (a period perfectly captured in The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin).
Bawdy, and Bathing Beauty, Bisques are highly collectible, and rarities such as this command high prices. They are also hellishly difficult to photograph. So, having spent a small fortune buying, and the better part of a day photographing, this stunning figuring I hope you will forgive me including so many photos of her!
The first five pictures below are taken from different directions at eye-level to the figurine.
The next three are taken from above, close-up, from different directions.
These last two are taken from below: as if the witch were flying overhead.
[UPDATE 14 JAN 08: Sharon Weintraub has informed me that a pure white figurine [29-002] posed on a ribbon swing in her book is, in fact, a witch: “After the book came out, a collector in Germany bought the identical figurine, on her original broom, which has a wooden stick and bisque bristles.” Looking at the image again it is suprising I didn’t recognise it as a witch (but hindsight is, proverbially, always perfect). So, there is a witch in Bawdy Bisques & Naughty Novelties after all! (And when I get one, you’ll see it here).
Sharon writes “As you know (I looked at your wonderful blog), the image of a nude, nubile witch flying high on her broom was a popular image in the early 1900s (especially on ‘naughty’ postcards). I have no doubt that our bisque witches were inspired by such postcards … [but] I do not know of any other naughty witch-related figurines [other than mine and the white one in Sharon's book], and am surprised there are not more of them for the period. Maybe it was because Halloween was more an American holiday, and Americans tended to be more prudish than their European cousins.” If so, more’s the pity.
BTW: Sharon notes that the ridges around the arms “are the application lines … When a figurine is cast in a mold, any parts that project too far from the main body will break off when the figurine is decanted from the mold. To overcome this problem, makers used multipart molds or molded the projecting parts separately and applied them during the greenware stage. In our figurines the arms and legs probably were applied to achieve the complicated pose.” So now you know.