Before there was the 'Vargas Girl' there was the Kirchner Woman. Raphael Kirchner (1876 - 1917) was a popular illustrator and a purveyor of the popular genre of erotica known as cheesecake. Thanks to advances in color printing the postcard, along with the poster and the illustrated magazine, were the phone apps of their day, distributed far and wide. I suspect that Kirchner's erotic photographs were never sent through the public post as they are of an altogether more directly arousing intent. Being European, the Kirchner woman was ginger-haired and full of ginger, the sort who would not hesitate to stuff a yule tree down a chimney. The state of her virtue was as evanescent as her garments, as in 'now you see it, now you don't.'
Raphael Kirchner was born in Vienna but, like many artists of late 19th century, he moved to Paris in 1900 , then the center of the art world. He is known to have produced more than one thousand illustrations, many of which are now in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, thanks to the beneficence of the omnivorous postcard collector Leonard Lauder.
1. Raphael Kirchner - Angel Putting a Christmas Tree Down the Chimney, 1903, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
2. Raphael Kirchner - Byrrh !, 1906, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.