Boudoir Cards
Boudoir Cards  -  Vintage Postcards of the Belle Epoque

Introduction ~ Vintage Postcards of the Belle Epoque

Belle Epoque Postcards
French Postcards
Oriental erotic Postcards
French Glamour & Pin-up Postcards
Various Postcards
Cabinet Cards & Cartes de Visite
Artwork & Compositions
Books & Links
New Entries & Index


During the so called Belle Epoque, the time from about 1871 to 1914 in Europe, photo-postcards have been an increasing popular means of sending greetings to relatives and friends. Postcards were sent almost like e-mails or short-messages in our times and got especially popular due to the technical progress of photography and mass-printing in the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century. Moreover certain postcard motifs were appreciated as collectible items and actually never sent postally. Nevertheless the fact that the Universal Postal Union (UPU, French: Union postale universelle, German: Weltpostverein; established in 1874) had set standards for the mailing of postcards contributed to the enormous popularity of the postcards.

More than hundred years ago famous photographers, in example the Reutlingers, Paul Boyer, Julien Walery, or Felix and Paul Nadar in Paris, produced numerous fascinating portraits of artists, celebrities and wealthy people of society, which have been used by various postcard publishers, to sell millions of these postcards.

Besides these more publicly used postcards, there was a fascinating “subculture” of erotic postcards, the so called “French Postcards”. Because nudity was seen so far only in classic paintings, people were excited by the new technique of photography, which made it possible to collect erotic images otherwise not accessible apart from expensive artworks. New industrial reproduction techniques allowed publishers of postcards to sell large amounts of various series. Due to contemporary moral and ethic restrictions about nudity, very little is known about most of the photographers and the models of these erotic postcards, because there was concern of being prosecuted by law. The postcards got published mainly anonymously, with or without acronymous signatures and were sold discretely in stores or by street dealers.
One of the core pages of this website is about the most famous French Postcard model, Miss Fernande. Actually she is the ignition of our interest in vintage postcards, and thus the very start of the idea for "".

Because of the similar topic of vintage erotic postcards and their great popularity during the early twentieth century, we also include a chapter on so called Oriental or ethnic postcards, which show a special exotic and oriental charm. They have been sent postally in large numbers, mostly by tourists from the Maghreb and Middle Orient countries to Europe.

Today, almost exclusively known among collectors of vintage photographies and postcards, these postcards bring to our memory a widely forgotten era of female beauty and erotic frivolity of the Belle Epoque.
Postcards, which have been sent postally, offer an even more exciting experience, when you look at the old stamps and handwritings, which lets you imagine the story behind the beautiful card, between sender and receiver in different countries all over the world, more than a century ago.

Due to our personal interest and collection our website keeps its focus on female portrait postcards and erotic postcards, the so called French postcards.

During the work on this website, we also came across some beautiful portraits of children, and also some charming cards of what we call "Romantic Couples", which are shown under the "Various Postcards".

Besides the postcards we decided to create a chapter for the "ancestors" of the postcards, the fascinating large format "Cabinet Cards" and the smaller "Cartes de Visite". First the Carte de Visite, then the Cabinet Card have been the most popular photo portraits in the second half of the 19th century.

The chapter "Artwork & Compositions" shows digital image processings, colorizations and artistic compositions performed on our vintage postcards by Grace La Rock.

Our most recent chapter, added in 2015, is about the French Glamour- and Pin-up-Postcards. French illustrators, mostly working for the French periodicals, i.e. "La Vie Parisienne", had their artwork also published on postcards.

For a better overview we created a page where we highlight New Entries and show an Index of Artists and Models. This is the easiest way to check what is new on our website, or when you look for a specific artist, model or photographer. Recently we added an Index of authors of books.

In our Book Section, you will find all the books we used for reference and detailed information. Interested readers will get some inspiration for further reading about the Belle Epoque, vintage portrait photography and erotic photography between 1850-1930. Of course, this is not a complete index of topic-related books, but we tried to include most of the important literature, available in English, German or French language. Nevertheless we think that this bibliography is already quite comprehensive and unique.

In the Link Section we suggest selected websites about vintage postcards and related topics.

Our website "" is dedicated to all the photographers and their models of the Belle Epoque.
It intends to show the variety of female portrait photography of the Belle Epoque and to keep up the memory of these now almost forgotten photographers, celebrities and beauties.

We try to research all available biographic information for each model, actress or artist. Because informations about the photographers and especially their models are scarce and difficult to find in most cases, everyone is welcome to contribute any additional information or correction of details.

The postcards and cabinet cards shown on this website are exclusively high resolution 600 ppi scans using Silverfast® scanning-software from our collection of original postcards and cabinet cards.
Recently, in very selected cases, we added a restored postcard from a web-photo in order to complement or complete a certain series of postcards of artists or models whose postcards are extremely rare to find or their prices increased beyond reasonable means (i.e. Miss Fernande, Miss Claire). These postcards are marked with a "W" for web-photo.
On all postcards we performed a meticulous and careful digital restoration with Adobe Photoshop® to minimize flaws and discolorations (see description of restoration workflow).

Of course our website is no encyclopedia for female portrait postcards and French postcards of the early 20th century, but a subjective selection representing our personal collection. And "" is a continuously growing project, due to our love for vintage postcards and photography. Since our start in 2013 this site has grown immensely. There are now about 50 individual pages at the "Belle Epoque Postcards" and almost 40 pages at the "French Postcards". Besides the work of digitally restoring our postcards, we are continously researching on individual biographies. For some artists and models this turns out to be like the search for a needle in the haystack.

Is is a fascinating experience, to get started collecting vintage postcards, then growing more and more into a deeper interest and understanding about all aspects of art and history around the time of the Belle Epoque and vintage photography.

And now enjoy the amazing world of vintage portrait postcards and erotic postcards!



Arlette DorgereBelle Epoque Postcards

Miss FernandeFrench (erotic) postcards

Oriental postcardsOriental Postcards

Cabinet CardCabinet Cards

Carte de VisiteCartes de Visite

French Pin-up and Glamour PostcardsFrench Pin-up & Glamour Postcards


~ Boudoir Cards ~
Vintage Postcards of the Belle Epoque
Copyright by Helmut Schmidt & Grace La Rock
© 2013-2023

Privacy Policy / Datenschutzerklärung