Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bathing Venus: The Bather by Albert Toft

The Bather (1915)


Here is a nice, life size bather from the early part of the twentieth century by Albert Toft (1862-1949).  Toft originally worked at the Wedgewood factory (as did his father) and studied art part time in Henley and Newcastle under Lyme. His brother, the splendidly named J Alphonsus Toft, was a painter.

Nude on a Rock

In 1881 studied at the National Art Training School (later to become the Royal College of Art) in South Kensington.  This figure can also now be found in South Kensington as Agent Triple P recently came across it in the sculpture halls of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  His teacher at the National Art Training School  was the French born sculptor Edouard Lanteri who had fled Paris for London due to the Franco-Prussian War.  Some of Lanteri's figures decorate the exterior of the V&A itself.  Lanteri was also then tutor of F W Doyle-Jones whose best known work is the figures at the main entrance to Waterloo station.


Evening


Toft did a series of nudes, such as The Bather, from the late eighteen eighties until well into the twentieth century.  These nude figures tend to have very beautiful faces with full sensuous lips, short or off the shoulder hair and realistic rather than idealised figures. 


The Bather

In 1915 The Bather was bought for the nation by the Chantrey Bequest. The successful sculptor Sir Francis Chantrey (1781-1841) left what was then the enormous sum of £105,000 to the Royal Academy so that they could start to build up a national collection of British Art. It was a great honour for an artist to have one of his works bought by the bequest.


The Bather


From 1885 until 1947 Toft was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy.  He produced a number of sculptures for public monuments, particularly of Queen Victoria, for provincial towns and cities in Britain as well as figures for war memorials such as the Royal London Fusiliers monument in Holborn in London.


 Royal London Fusiliers monument (1920)


This sculpture, the Spirit of Contemplation exists in a number of versions; notably one where the scroll across her lap is missing.


 Spirit of Contemplation

 Spirit of Contemplation.  Version without scroll


Spirit of Contemplation Bronze version

There is also a version that was produced in bronze.
This sculpture is of the Biblical character Hagar, the mother of Ishmael by Abraham.  This depicts the scene when, wandering with her son in the desert with no water Hagar bursts into tears and Ishmael calls on God for help.  A well then appears saving both their lives.



Hagar

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Venus Revealed: The Pubic Wars 9-1977 part 1



1977 was an interesting year in the Pubic Wars.  Although Playboy had, essentially, capitulated in its war against Penthouse at the end of 1975, it continued to include fairly explicit pictures (by its standard anyway).  Penthouse itself was under attack from Larry Flynt's Hustler and there was now a host of other men's magazines competing in the market with varying degrees of success.  Some were older magazines that had tried to copy Playboy years before and  some were new into the market.  All of them copied elements of the big two in one way or another. 

In this special post we will examine some of the rivals to Penthouse and Playboy focussing on their respective January issues and looking at their pictorials in a little more depth.



We will start with Gallery which had started up in 1972, very much as a Playboy clone.  An article on dreams was illustrated with some Penthouse style soft-focus using an un-Penthouse like ethnic model.  The mild pussy stroking is more Playboy than Penthouse.


Genesis January 1977


Gallery had, like Playboy, taken the nipples off its covers in October the previous year (and they had only just started to include them in 1975).  1977 would be its first entirely nipple free cover year and they wouldn't return for over twenty years.  Penthouse too had stopped featuring nipples during 1976 but a few magazines continued to show them in 1977, such as Genesis' defiant shot.


Gallery's centrefold, the exotically named Marouusia, for January 1977 by Serge Jacques


Gallery's differentiator over the previous six months had been its Girl Next Door feature where readers (at least early on, there is a lot of doubt as to the amateur nature of its GNDs later on) sent in snaps of their wives or girlfriends and the magazine picked one to be GND of the month and have a professional photo shoot published.  The main centrefold, at this time was still a professional model but soon the GND would take over the centrefold slot.


January 1960's Cavalier


Our next magazine is one we haven't featured before and is interesting in that it actually pre-dates PlayboyCavalier was launched in 1952 by publishing house Fawcett Publications who used it to feature stories by their stable of authors, including Mickey Spillane.  In the 1970s it featured the first works by Stephen King. Gradually, influenced by Playboy, the stories (at least on the covers) started to take a back seat to the girls, whereas originally, as we can see from this 1960 cover featuring Playboy playmate Dianne Weber (who was Playmate of the Month as Marguerite Empey In May 1955 and February 1956) the stories predominated. 




By 1964 when the cover featured a frothy and low cut Jane Fonda the girls were the thing.  The strange doll she is holding is the Cavalier equivalent of the Playboy rabbit.  Their centrefold was christened the Date-of-the-Month.


The post-Facwett Cavalier in 1967


In 1966 the magazine was taken over by Dugent Publishing who also published Gent which, again, became well known for its stories, publishing many of Harlan Ellison's first works.  Gent (originally The Gent until the name was shortened in 1963) was an early Playboy competitor.  Later it transformed itself into a magazine solely featuring big busted girls and by the late seventies was the market leader in this field.


Gent October 1975


During the sixties and seventies Cavalier, apart from its girls, was famous for its coverage of the emerging counter-culture in the US.

Lucy Lunn on the cover of January's Cavalier


By 1977 Cavalier was a somewhat schizophrenic magazine as an examination of its January pictorial content shows.


Lucy Lunn appearing as Ginger in January's Cavalier


It included conventional and rather modest nude sets such as this one featuring Lucy Lunn, who had been the UK Penthouse Pet of the Month in March 1973.  Some of the pictures in this set had already appeared in Men Only in the UK.  The level of explicitness was only what Penthouse and Playboy had been showing in the early seventies.


Yummy mummy?


Another pictorial called Little Mothers went for early Hustler style unconventiality with its pictures of two pregnant models.  The pictures weren't really naughty, apart from one nipple licking shot, but was certainly something neither Playboy or Penthouse would have published.




The main centrefold, Tarri (what sort of name is that?), however, featured in a set which was easily as explicit as what Hustler was putting out and even more explicit than Penthouse at this time. 


Tarri's backyard


Tarri was also shown presenting her anus to the camera (whether the title of the pictorial, Tarri's Backyard, had any significance is not known). Penthouse had shown a few arsehole shots by this period but they were nothing like as frank as this picture.  Whether, this was perceived as the new mark of naughtiness,  an erogenous zone in its own right or was just inevitable if you were photographing women on all fours from the rear it would be a growing trend during 1977.


Lucy/Ginger has a little stroke.  Cavalier still featured black and white pictures in its pictorials


All in all the January issue seemed to show that Cavalier couldn't make up its mind as to what sort of magazine it wanted to be: tasteful early Playboy or raunchy Hustler.  The fact that it brought in content from elsewhere gave it a bewildering variety of styles, quality of models and photographic approach.




While Cavalier had been around for decades Larry Flynt's new "up market" magazine Chic had reached its third issue and featured this tastefully displayed young lady on the cover.


Rear end movie in Chic


The first pictorial was about a movie photographer and his model.  At this point in Chic the male models were keeping their clothes on but the lady showed everything, including her boldly displayed anus (and it wasn't the sole example that issue),  If 1976 had been the year of the pussy then 1977 would be the year of the arsehole.




Sonja demonstrated one characteristic of Chic and that was the increased use of shots of their models bodies without including their faces; either as close ups of their pussies or, as here, a more abstracted body shot.




The Chic centrefolds were not that different from those in Hustler really; maybe a bit more attractive.  Laura was that month's centrefold although they didn't invent a ridiculous name for them like Pet, Playmate or Honey.




Cover girl April would display a very pink pussy on this two page spread.  These wet labia shots would become more and more common in the magazine.




Speaking of Oui their January effort (which kept the nipples - yes, we know that there is only one but that's because the others are visible in the fold-out inner cover where the young lady appears twice more) had a lady we have already featured on this blog as this month's centrefold.




Also featured was a rather nice Suze Randall pictorial of Lisa Mei-Lee writhing about delightfully whilst the text wittered on about the Chinese tea ceremony.  Triple P, incidentally, was once served formal tea by a delightful young Chinese lady in an old house (and there aren't many left) in a trendy part of Shanghai just around the corner from Chairman Mao's house.  Sadly, we never got to see her writhe around.


From One Mile High and Rising Oui January 1977


Oui, particularly at this point, aften featured couples sets and this issue had a brief (three page) set featuring a stewardess.  What it lacked in pages it made up for in pictures with a sequence of no less than 12 pictures packed onto one page (the complete opposite of the Chic approach).




Oddly, the way these pictures were cropped and crammed onto the page gives a good sensation of the claustrophobic nature of in-plane sex (unless you had your own plane like Hugh Hefner, of course!)  Lost in the dozen pictures on the bottom row was a sneaky shot of the gentleman getting felt up by the stewardess in question.  Much naughtier than anything that Penthouse had done at that point.  Penthouse had shown a few penises but never one of its girls actually touching one.




In fact, we have found another shot from the same session, which was not published in the magazine, that shows that the stewardess was clearly getting to grips with the "passenger".




Also starting to get visibly excited were the couples in the sets over at Hustler.  In a pictorial called A Passing Fancy a typical seventies beardy weirdy (wearing one of the most appalling shirts Triple P has ever seen) rolls about with a young lady in fishnet stockings. Flynt's couples sets were far more explicit than Penthouse's at this point, as can be seen. 




Swank magazine was also featuring the increasinly popular couples sets.  For January they had  a pictorial called Going Up, featuring a couple in a lift in what, we are afraid to say, at least initially looks like attempted rape.




After resisting the man in the dodgy raincoat our lady, who sports a wonderful pair of bullet nipples, inevitably succumbs.




Lift-set couples pictorials turn up from time to time in magazines (Penthouse had a notable one in the eighties which also featured on one of its videos) but really it is virtually impossible to have sex in a lift.  Apart from the risk of interruption (which is supposedly part of the thrill) , or the knowledge that you are being watched on close circuit TV (see The Bitch or the TV series Las Vegas) there just isn't time to do anything even in the logest ride.  We've only ever managed a quick grope in a lift although we suppose that it might be possible in a long non-stop ride like in Toronto's CN Tower, except they always make sure they have a lift attendant there (maybe for that reason!)


Going up



 So what of our two main protagonists?  Over at staid old Playboy they would surely be tastefully aloof to all this increased explicitness.  Well, yes and no.





1977 should have seen Playboy backing right off in the Pubic Wars but, despite their promises to their advertisers, they continued to feature pictures that were still as strong as anything they had shown at the height of the wars in 1975.  1977 saw the very last appearance of the creepy Playboy rabbit and his gallery of the previous year's centrefolds.  For the final "gallery" cover not one of the Playmates flashed so much as a nipple, let alone anything furrier.


Susan spreads


Inside, however, Playboy's Miss January was Susan Lynn Kiger a young lady who displayed herself in a very frank way. In fact her Playmate pictures were as explicit as anything that Playboy had done with its centrefolds to date.


Susan poses


We have discovered this picture of Pompeo Posar photographing Susan in 1976 for her Playmate...er...spread.   He is strategically well placed between her legs.


Susan strokes


Interestingly, none of these pictures appear on the Playboy website which is the case for many of the racier Playmate shots from the Pubic Wars period.  Playboy seems to have gone back and retrospectively made its Playmate pictures look more innocent than many of them were.


Susan sprawls


Susan was no stranger to naughtiness. Even more frank was her performance in a film called Hot Nasties (or Deadly Love) made in 1976.

Susan sucks


Her one minute blow job scene made her the first ever Playboy Playmate to do a hardcore film before her Playboy appearance.  She went on to do a number of other exploitation films plus some appearances in TV shows such as ChiPs, Starsky and Hutch and Vega$.


Daina: undressed to impress


January was also the time for the previous year's Playmate review.  The picture illustrating Daina House, who had been Playmate of the Month exactly one year before, was far more revealing than anything in her actual  Playmate pictorial.




Finally, in our January review, it is time to look at Penthouse which, again, had four pictorials.  The first was one of their increasingly lavish period pieces.  This one, The Lady and the Lusty Scamp by Jeff Dunas featured a full sized pirate ship.




The UK edition left out this picture of our very seventies looking pirate (he looks like he should be auditioning for the Bee Gees).  No doubt this was because the young lady's face is in rather too close a proximity to his prick.


Marilyn Connor is wet

Pet of the Month was Marilyn Connor.  The usual soft focus and moody lighting was ecshewed by Stan Malinowski for the glaring light of the sun where a nicely damp Marilyn looks like she would be more at home in Hustler.




Much more dreamy and moody was Jeff Dunas' pictorial of Jeri Lee (Terry Behrens).  Natural light, weird out of focus stuff in the forground, white stockings and a little bit of gentle clitoris touching.  Much more Penthouse!

So it looks like 1977 is going to see the top publications continue to fight it out over who can be most daring. Next time we will look at February to April 1977.