• Gardner_Porcelain_Miniature_DG_2

This “Woman Adjusting Corset” is an example of miniature Russian erotica in porcelain. Is she in the act of dressing or undressing? Why does the base suggest she is outdoors rather than in the boudoir? Fans of the female form would be mentally undressing this soft and seductive miniature as they held it in their hands with eyes gazing over its tiny curves.

At 6.6 cm high, the scale is very personal. These miniatures are intimate in a way few other works of art can be. Perfection that fits in the palm of your hand. Work like this was probably meant for the privacy of the bedroom back in the mid 19th century.

Her undergarments are given a very soft and delicate treatment with just the pale blue enamel on a white ground. It is reminiscent of the days when blueing was added to the wash water for whites. The softness here and in the treatment of the flesh is contrasted beautifully with the boldness of the hair and earthy mound colouring. It’s a bit odd to see a person involved in such an intimate act being placed on an ‘outdoor’ base. Mixing of public and private spaces.

While unmarked, I attribute this miniature to the Gardner Factory of Moscow based on comparisons with similar figures. Marked examples of a woman adjusting her stockings in the same scale with matching base can be seen online. Another miniature woman in a dress on matching base can be seen in “Russian Porcelain Private Factories” by V. Popov. One more of a woman with a drum titled “Marie” can be seen in a Christie’s catalogue from 2009. These comparative examples are marked by or attributed to the Gardner Factory. It seems reasonable to place this one with those in terms of identification.

To my knowledge this is an unrecorded example. As a forth variation of the type, it suggests to me there was a series of such figures. Why would Gardner stop at four? There must be a greater number of models. It makes sense from a producer’s standpoint. It encourages your clients to buy multiples and collect sets. Then as now a good strategy. There could still be other unknown survivors out there waiting to be found. I can only hope.

This is the introduction to a small group of erotic miniatures that will be seen in future posts. Not sure if I will present them in succession or spread them over a longer period. Also not sure whether some of them would still be considered too racy for FB even after being around 165 years. We might get some of those answers next week.

In case you wondered, this Woman Adjusting Corset is not from the same lot as the last three. She and one other interesting miniature came from a different lot of five. I believe I have purchased three lots of five in all over the years. Why lots of five for miniatures? That’s like asking why lots of three for eggs.