Josephine Baker

Figure
ca. 1940s (made), c. 1925 (designed)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Glass, Room 131
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Starting in Paris in the early 20th century, a passion for all things ‘African’ spread across Europe during the 1920s and 30s. This interest in Black culture found commercial success in the Art Deco style which frequently borrowed aspects of African design to create ‘exotic’ objects for European consumers.

In 1925 the African-American dancer Josephine Baker escaped the restrictions of the racially-divided United States to become a sensation in Paris. Her erotic dances and risqué costumes, which included a skirt made of bananas, found instant success amongst Parisian audiences enraptured with all things exotic, as too did her menagerie of pet animals which included Chiquita the cheetah. Baker became a design icon in her own right and appeared on many objects of the period. In this glass figure she is wearing her signature banana skirt.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Lampworked glass
Brief Description
Lamp-worked glass figure of the dancer Josephine Baker, designed by Fritz Lampl, and made probably at Orplid Glassworks, London, designed about 1925, made 1940's possibly.
Physical Description
A standing glass figure of a dancer modelled on African-American dancer Josephine Baker, lampworked clear glass base, brown figure with a green glass skirt.
Dimensions
  • Taken from accessions register height: 19.2cm
  • Taken from accessions register width: 11.2cm
Object history
Fritz Lampl (1892 - 1995) was the artistic director of Bimini in Vienna. In 1938 he emigrated to England and founded Orplid Glass. This and the other figures acquired in this group (c.21 to 24- 1995) had been bought by the vendor from a collector who had acquired them in this country during the 1960s and 70s. Though Lampl continued essentially the same production in both Austria and England it seems likely that these were produced in London. The figures were shown in a small display of Bimini / Orplid work in the V&A, July 1995 – Jan 1996

Bimini / Orplid scrapbook in Ceramics dept library.

Waltraud Neuwirth, Bimini, Vienna, 1992.
Historical context
Josephine Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906 and entered vaudeville as a teen before joining the 'Harlem Renaissance' then happening in New York City. She performed at the Plantation Club and in the chorus of popular Broadway revues. In 1925 she opened in Paris at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, where her erotic dancing and 'exotic' costumes, which included a skirt of bananas, found instant success amongst a Parisian audience enraptured with all things 'African'. She became the most successful American entertainer in France, an achievement impossible in the racially-divided United States.
Production
Probably made at Orplid Glassworks
Subject depicted
Association
Summary
Starting in Paris in the early 20th century, a passion for all things ‘African’ spread across Europe during the 1920s and 30s. This interest in Black culture found commercial success in the Art Deco style which frequently borrowed aspects of African design to create ‘exotic’ objects for European consumers.



In 1925 the African-American dancer Josephine Baker escaped the restrictions of the racially-divided United States to become a sensation in Paris. Her erotic dances and risqué costumes, which included a skirt made of bananas, found instant success amongst Parisian audiences enraptured with all things exotic, as too did her menagerie of pet animals which included Chiquita the cheetah. Baker became a design icon in her own right and appeared on many objects of the period. In this glass figure she is wearing her signature banana skirt.
Bibliographic Reference
Journal of Glass Studies, vol. 38, 1996, p. 250, no. 46.
Other Number
9660 - Glass gallery number
Collection
Accession Number
C.22-1995

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record createdJune 25, 2004
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