28 July 2020

The Boudoir Series of Jean Agélou

The Boudoir Series of Jean Agélou - Black & White Photography and Stereoscopy Blog

My first encounter with boudoir photos from the early 20th century was a coincidence. My purchase of a Taxiphote stereoscope included 74 glass stereoviews from Jules Richard's Atrium collection. I started reading about the history of erotic photography during La Belle Époque and discovered the photographs of Jean Agélou.

A boudoir is a woman's private sitting room or bedroom. Boudoir style photos are sensual or suggestive images of a scantily dressed woman in her private room. These photos stand out from the full nude or more explicit images. Strictly speaking, the images in this post are not boudoir photos because they are shot in a photo studio, but they have the same style.

Erotic photography was big business in the beginning of the 20th century in France. There are many images that indicate that there was money to be made. Uncomfortable or unexperienced models and images of low artistic quality are very common. What I appreciate about the photos of Jean Agélou is that they are of high quality. His models seem relaxed and attention is paid to the composition and decoration in the studio with furniture and romantic backgrounds. His photos are stylish, tasteful and atmospheric.

Agélou - card with a preview of the postcards from serie 102
Card with a preview of the postcards from serie 102

Agélou's French postcards and stereoviews contain a series number. Each series features one model in different poses. His postcards were sold in series of 5 or 10 and I assume this also applied to his stereoviews. Each stereoview series was available in different formats and the images were black & white or with a sepia tone.

It seems that Agélou worked during a single photo session with a normal camera and a stereo camera. Both postcards and stereoviews exist from the same photo shoot, featuring the same model and with the same studio setting, but shot by different cameras.

The Boudoir Series of Jean Agélou
8,5 x 17cm stereocard in black & white from serie 25
The Boudoir Series of Jean Agélou
9 x 15cm stereocard from the same series with a sepia tone
The Boudoir Series of Jean Agélou

References:

  • Jean Agélou - De l'académisme à la photographie de charme, Christian Bourdon, 2006
  • Stereo nudes 1850-1930, S. Nazerieff, 1985