Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A Kaby (fl 1910-1930) Boudoir Art


She's lovely - very much typical of the boudoir art style popular in France during the inter-war years; this one is by an artist who signed his work "Kaby" or "A Kaby" . This is a limited edition copper plate etching aquatint, signed in pencil and number with an edition size.

Typical signature

The original etchings by Kaby are quite scarce and those that I have seen have been of small to medium sized. On average smaller than the typical etching by Louis Icart and similar to those by Charles Naillod. That is not to say that his work is rare, as it is quite easy to find examples of his graphic art and illustrations in  printed forms such as postcards.


His pictures always include a girl and often children; the children are cute and cherubic with his girls having youthful charm without being too sexy. I haven't seen any that could be described as erotic, unlike Louis Icarts more risque subjects.

As to who "A Kaby" was ?? I do not know and have not found any biographical detail that will add flesh to his printed legacy. I can be fairly accurate on dating with is work dating from c1910 until 1930. This is  largely thanks to his postcards.


These elegant "Belle Epoque" fashion studies were published by AH&CIB as "Kaby" Serie I & II c1910 and were printed in Germany. His designs also appeared in the series "Fashion Favourites" Set II, published by Alfred Stiebel & Co  of London and cards published in the USA with the trade name L&C. One example below has a clear postmark to confirm the date as 1910.


Kaby's boudoir art doesn't have the belle epoque style of the 1910's rather they have the post WW1 style of the early art deco. A date I was able to confirm as an old newspaper used as packing inside the etching at the top was dated as 1921. Again, this date can be confirmed by the posting dates on his postcards.


These "boudoir art" style postcards feel slightly later than the first etching dated to c1921, so I would suggest these date from the mid 1920's to c1930 with publishers such as E.K & Cie Serie 1989.


I assume that the early postcards were of pictures draw solely as illustrations for the cards, whilst some of the later boudoir style postcards were lithographic copies of published original limited edition etchings. As below, with the postcard on the right. I think the colours on the postcards survive perfectly as they have not been exposed to daylight, shut away in albums ?


If any one has any more information about Kaby, then please leave a comment - every little bit helps.

A note for collectors - when buying these prints always look for the plate mark, as should just above the signature.They are sometimes very faint, but should there. This is the slight indent caused  by the edge of the copper plate when the paper is passed through the press. Don't be worried if there is a slight gap between the mark and the start of the image as this is quite normal. A word of caution; the edge of the printed image should be slightly fuzzy or uneven, a perfect clinical straight edge should be treated with some caution as there modern productions printed lithographs or even gicele on to which fake plate marks are impressed !! Prints without plate mark are most likely to be lithographs and whilst often printed in period are regard less highly than the copper plate originals.


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