The liberating period of the 1920’s to 1930’s often seems incongruous to non-Doulton figure collectors who associate ladies in ballgowns with Doulton figures, but those in the know, they recall that there are a small group of nude figures produced in the art deco period that encapsulate that movement perfectly. All the figures contained in this small band of lady figures were the brain child of Leslie Harradine, Doulton’s then principal figure modeler.
As if to prove their own artistic credentials, Doulton introduced over a 10 year period several nude studies that confirmed their artistic prowess. The first we must all know was Harradine’s The Bather, modeled on this contemporary advert.
There were six different versions of this popular model, with this colourway proving to be the most popular.
The Bather HN687.
In the succeeding years there was a second version of The Bather introduced, shown here.
The Bather HN773 (second version).
By the mid to late 1930’s tastes had changed and prudery was once more on the rise, and so a last version of this figure was introduced wearing a bathing suit, so reflecting the continued interest in lidos.
The Bather HN1708.
However, there were other nude figures introduced at this time including Siesta shown here reclining on her day sofa.
Other partially clad figures also belong to this group of deco delights such as Carnival, Circe and Susanna, a scalled down version of Circe.
Harradine continued, however, to experiment and push boundaries in figure production. He achieved much acclaim at the British Industries Fair of 1935 for his then two latest productions, The Coming of Spring and Celia. Particular attention was lavished upon the Coming of Spring shown here.
The Coming of Spring HN1722.
We cannot mention deco nudes without also mentioning that small group of figures commissioned by Noke from Richard Garbe the eminent sculptor. I have in my own collection his Spring HN1774 produced in a limited edition of 100.
Yet, Harradine as Doulton’s leading modeler continued to produce nude figures up until the late 1930’s with figures such as Dawn and The Awakening.
Dawn HN1858 (without headdress)
There were also a slew of scantily clad beauties such as Negligée and Lido Lady as well as a few child studies such as Blue Bird.
The rare Blue Bird HN1280.
In recent decades there have been new nude introductions, not least in 2000 when Doulton themselves re-modelled four of Harradines most popular figures including The Bather (first version).