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French Postcards ~ Models ~ Miss Fernande

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Miss Fernande

* 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:

http://www.missfernande.com

Most of the information from that website and plenty of her cards are available as a Kindle download at Amazon.

 

References:

  • Farina, Ferruccio
    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

  • Stevens, Martin
    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)

  • L'Étude Académique
    Numéro 119 du 1er Février 1911

 

Miss Fernande

 

Fernande (?) by Louis Amédée Mante

~

 

L'Étude Académique

L'Étude Académique
Numéro 119 du 1er Février 1911

~

 

Fernande address

Miss Fernande
7, Passage de Flandre, Paris 19 (France)

backside of a postcard (serie 69) of Miss Fernande
from the book by Ferruccio Farina:
Die verbotene Venus - Erotische Postkarten 1895-1925

 

Websites:

Because Miss Fernande is one of the most portrayed models in a large amount of different series,
- mostly published by the studio Jean Agélou / Paris -
we decided to present her postcards on separate pages according to the series numbers.
Three digit numbers beginning with a zero are assigned to the two digit series respectively.
Some of her cards are from other publishers like GP, GA, BG, or WV,
but the original photographs were most probably taken by Jean Agélou or Georges Agélou too.
Currently we show about 100 postcards of Miss Fernande on the following linked pages.
Below these series we show very rare postcard-motifs of Miss Fernande
by publishers Irisa, Croissant/Paris and Astor on individual pages.
Some unidentified postcards or unusual publishers are shown at "Other Rarities"
Recently we added our first stereo-view photographs of Miss Fernande.


Miss Fernande ~ Postcard-Series

 

Miss Fernande ~ Postcard Rarities

Absolutely different to all of Miss Fernande's other postcards are our recent finds, which show Miss Fernande more in the style of the typical Belle Epoque postcards by photographers like Reutlinger or Nadar.
We have no information or hints about the photographer of most of these postcards.
The postcards by Astor are the only postcards of Miss Fernande that we have ever seen so far in this style, and to our knowledge this is the first time that Miss Fernande was identified on a Belle Epoque greeting card.
Recently we were able to add postcards of Miss Fernande by the French publisher "Croissant, Paris" to our collection. These postcards are pretty unusual for Miss Fernande's style and dresses too and quite rare finds.

Miss Fernande ~ Stereoview-Photos

Miss Fernande appears also on several stereoview photos, which were very popular in the Belle Epoque time. The photo settings of these stereo-photos are mostly different to the ones we know from her Agélou postcard series. Some of her stereo-photos seem to be taken from the same photo-sessions of the postcards, i.e. Serie 42. For others there are no information about the photographer, because they show no signatures or other details. But some backgrounds remind to the one's from the Agélou studio. On our page for the stereo-photos we show the stereo-photo followed by a larger size single photo respectively.

Miss Fernande stereo-photos

 

Fernande as a Child?

This postcard of a young child provides some room for speculation and discussion, if Fernande was already modeling at a very early age. The similarity of the physiognomy of the face, especially the eyes, is quite surprising. But of course it will remain a keen hypothesis, if this is the first published photo of Miss Fernande.

 

 

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