* 1893 (?)
Miss Fernande was presumably a courtesan in Paris, the beginning of the 20th century. She was the favorite and almost exclusive model of French photographer Jean Agélou. Although she appears on postcards by different publishers, we didn't know any photographs of her taken by another photographer than Jean Agélou or his brother Georges Agélou. But while researching on the internet about Louis Amédée Mante, we saw two coloured photos by Mante (shown on the right), which show a dressed woman, most probably being Fernande. So far we have no reliable evidence for this.
Subsequently we found two postcards of Miss Fernande dressed in the Belle Epoque style by publisher "Astor" and several other postcards by publisher "Croissant", which show Miss Fernande in a very different style of dresses and modeling. We are very excited about these unique finds, because to our knowledge this is the first time that the model of these postcards is identified as Miss Fernande.
Apart from the postcards, photographs of Miss Fernande appeared in several issues of an artist magazine called "L'Étude Académique", published in Paris between 1904 and 1914. Most of the photos for "L'Étude Académique" were taken by Jean Agélou.
Miss Fernande is known as "the queen" of French erotic postcards. More than a hundred years after her modeling career, Miss Fernande is still the most popular model among numerous of anonymous nude vintage postcard models, and her postcards get sold for the highest prices of all at online auctions. Jean Agélou's numerous photo series show Miss Fernande modeling over several years, documenting the change of her body from a young girl to a more voluptuous woman in later years.
She must have used the postcards as signature cards for her business, and that's probably the lucky reason why her name is still known today. The story about discovering her name is told in the book "Die verbotene Venus" (The Forbidden Venus) by Ferruccio Farina. The author found a postcard of her (displayed here on the right) with imprinted name and address and a handwritten signature on the backside.
Some internet sources erroneously identified Miss Fernande as Fernande Barrey (1893-1960), but there is no real proof for this hypothesis. The article on Wikipedia cites Christian Bourdon's book about Jean Agélou, but in his book he actually says that there is not more than just coincidence in age.
Apart from Miss Fernande's first name, there is no other reliable information available about her life or other biographical details. At least her year of birth is quite reliable verified, because Jean Agélou mentions the age of his models shown in the magazine "L'Étude Académique". In issue No.119 from February 1st 1911, Miss Fernande is shown on 4 photographs and the model's age stated is 18. If this stated age is not just "corrected" out of legal reasons, Miss Fernande was most likely born in 1893.
There is an incredible comprehensive website of Miss Fernande's postcards, created and published by Louis La Volpe, that we would like to mention for all the fans of Miss Fernande. But most of them will already know:
Most of the information from that website and plenty of her cards are available as a Kindle download at Amazon.
Die verbotene Venus
- Erotische Postkarten 1895-1925
Parkland Verlag, Stuttgart 1989
Venus unveiled (English edition)
Magna Books, 1989
Cartoline Intime (original Italian edition)
Bourgeron, Jean Pierre; Bourdon, Christian
Jean Agélou -
De l'academisme à la photographie de charme
Éditions Marval, Paris 2006
French Postcards - An Album of Vintage Erotica
Rizzoli International Publications Inc., New York 2006
La Volpe, Louis
Miss Fernande Online
Sexy French Postcards: Miss Fernande Part 1-7
(Kindle eBooks at Amazon)
Numéro 119 du 1er Février 1911
Fernande (?) by Louis Amédée Mante
Numéro 119 du 1er Février 1911
7, Passage de Flandre, Paris 19 (France)
backside of a postcard (serie 69) of Miss Fernande
from the book by
Die verbotene Venus -
Erotische Postkarten 1895-1925