When we think of Art Deco, we typically conjure images of streamlined architectural masterpieces like the Chrysler Building, sleek Ruhlmann furniture, or locomotive engines designed by Raymond Loewy. The lines are predominantly straight, the shapes tend to be symmetrical, and the overall appearance is one of elegant efficiency.

But there’s another, more sensuous side to Art Deco, especially in the lamps created during the 1920s and ’30s. In these decorative objects, nude female figurines stand or recline alongside illuminated globes. Many of these Art Deco lamps, on bases that ranged from alabaster to marble, were openly erotic, taking their visual cues from the showgirl culture of the Moulin Rouge in the Montmartre district of Paris. Indeed, some of these figures rendered in bronze and gilded metal might as well have been modeled after the great Josephine Baker.

One well-known designer of these lamps was A.R. Gerdago, who was famous for his Pixie lamps, in which bronze harlequins appeared to play hacky sack with millefiori globes. The Spaniard Enrique Molins Balleste was another prominent Art Deco artist. He made a name for himself in Paris, where he produced female figurines in a zinc alloy called spelter, which were then gilded in silver or gold (frosted glass was a typical Balleste choice for his lamp’s globes).

In the United States, Ronson Art Metal Works of New York produced Art Deco figural lamps with Egyptian themes. Ronson’s Egyptian Moon lamp is one of numerous lamps from the period to mine that mythical terrain—some depicted Cleopatra herself. Even Aladdin got into the act, creating Art Deco lamps whose glass bases were graced by female forms that were not too subtly lifted from the sketchbooks of René Lalique.

Of course, lamps with unclad women were not the only sorts of light fixtures produced during Art Deco. Animals were also common, singly or in pairs—gazelles were especially popular. In an assignment for Sheaffer pens, designer Norman Bel Geddes made lamps that vaguely resembled cobras. Then there were the geometric lamps, whose shades suggested Mayan pyramids, with their rows upon rows of staggered steps.

Finally, Frankart lamps combined both Art Deco impulses. For Frankart’s main sculptor and designer, Arthur von Frankenberg, it was not uncommon to combine nude female figurines with skyscraper-inspired or crystalline-shaped shades. Sometimes a lone green figure would hold a flying-saucer-like disc of frosted glass; other times pairs of figurines combined forces to lift a cylinder or rectangle of soft light high into the air.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Lampworks

The Lampworks

Lamp collector and dealer Dan Edminster has put together an incredible reference site on antique lamps and related … [read review or visit site]

Art Deco 1910-1939

Art Deco 1910-1939

This Victoria and Albert Museum has a terrific collection of Art Deco objects. On the VAM's website, you can learn … [read review or visit site]

Texans Incorporated: The History of a Lamp Company

Texans Incorporated: The History of a Lamp Company

Mark Stevens has created an impressive living memorial to Texans Inc., a 20th century Texas manufacturer of ceramic… [read review or visit site]

Decopix

Decopix

Randy Juster's survey of Art Deco imagery and reference on all things Deco. Includes pages on murals, houses, gov… [read review or visit site]

The Lamps of H. G. McFaddin

The Lamps of H. G. McFaddin

Bruce Bleier's tribute to the Emeralite and Bellova lampshades made from Czech glass and popularized and distribute… [read review or visit site]

Modernism

Modernism

This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]

Fairy Lamp Club

Fairy Lamp Club

This incredible site is a stunning showcase for Victorian and contemporary fairy lamps, a style of lamp with a glas… [read review or visit site]

Gas Pressure Lanterns, Lamps and Stoves

Gas Pressure Lanterns, Lamps and Stoves

Terry Marsh’s beautiful showcase of gas-pressure lanterns, lamps, stoves, irons, and heaters from the 1920s o… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Rare Accessory E&j Edmunds And Jones Type 20 Headlamp Hot Rat Rod SctaAntique Art Deco Era Nude Lady Statue Mercury Glass Crystal Ball Old Parlor LampRare 1930s French Art Deco Nude Ball Dancer Sculpture Lamp By Limousin1930's Art Deco Figural Lady Lamp On Alabaster Base3pc Rare Antique Art Deco Semi Nude Lady & Flower Statue Figural Lamp Mantel SetRare Vintage 1920s Nuart Nyc Art Deco Nude Pair Nymphs Women Lamp Flapper1 Of 2 Vintage Art Deco Crome & Glass Wall Lamp Mid Century Machine Age 30s 40sFab Antique Art Deco *2 Girls & A Glass Gazing Globe* Table Lamp Vintage LightMillefiori Art Deco Pixie Dancer Harlequin Lamp 1920s Danseuses Des IndiesAntique Astra Hand Cut Lead Crystal Lamp C1930s Art DecoVintage 1950s Lightup Antique Art Deco Lamp In Beautiful Original Condition Art Deco Spelter Lady LampAntique Empire Art Deco Bronze Floor Lamp C.1920 Tiffany Handel .99 Start Nr2 Of 2 Vintage Art Deco Crome & Glass Wall Lamp Mid Century Machine Age 30s 40sMagnificent C. 1920 Art Deco Figural Lamp Of Lady With All Original Patina Art Deco A Decorative Table/desk Lamp With Tiger & Lion 1920 Sculpture Origina Superb 1930s Art Deco Seagull Bird Sculpture Table Mood Lamp Glass Globe FranceArt Deco Chrome Table Lamp With Naked LadyAntique/vintage Frankart Nude Girl 15" Lamp Art Deco Art Deco Chrome Table Lamp & Frosted Glass ShadeFrench Art Deco Modernist Chrome Table Lamp C1930's Art-nouveau-deco-lamp-winged-victory-nude-lady-womanVintage Art Deco Nude Lady Lamp With Torch Spelter Repair RestoreVintage Art Deco Alabaster/marble Cast Metal Harlequin/pixie Night Light/lampArt Deco "1939 Ny Worlds Fair" Airplane Lamp Usa Art Nouveau Deco Dodge Inc. *nude Mermaids* Antique Lamp Vintage ClockAntique Vintage Art Deco Cast Iron Light Fixture Lamp Old Parrot Ceiling Metal Original Art Deco Silhouette Lady Figure Lamp & Flame ShadeAntique Art Deco Slip Shade Ceiling Lamp Cap Hanging Chandelier Light FixtureVintage Deco Aladdin Alacite Pressed Glass Electric Lamp & Finial Antique Table Lamp Art Nouveau Shade Vintage Glass Tiffany Style Original DecoVintage Duplex Oil Lamp 30's Opaline Glass Shade Art Deco Table Lamp Rustic ChicArt Deco Aladdin G-16 Sensual Nude Lady Art Glass Lamp Peach Silk Shade C.1920Art Deco Rembrandt Metal Mesh Screen 18" Lamp Shade Arts&crafts Floor Light Vintage Douglas Dc 3 Airplane Art Deco Table / Desk Lamp From 1950's / 1960'sAntique Art Deco Figural Table Lamp Glass Shade. 1935Antique Art Deco *nude Under Streetlight* Lamp4 Matched Art Deco Marigold Glass Slip Lamp Light Shades Elec Chandelier SconceVtg Art Deco Skyscraper Milk Glass Antique Light Lamp Shade GlobeArt Deco Chromium Plated Table / Desk Lamp *12Art Glass Czech Art Deco Shade For Figural Lamp Cased End Day SpatterCirca 30s Art Deco Porcelier Ceiling Light Fixture Chandelier Antique Lamp VtgAntique Astra Hand Cut Lead Crystal Lamp C1930s Art DecoArt Deco Hanging Slip Shade Chandelier Lamp Center Light Part Stem Super Neat Art Deco Cast Iron And Marble Table Lamp W/ Faux Alligator Shade Vintage Antique Chalkware Half Doll Lamp Shade- Deco Boudoir LadyArt Deco Rare Coralex Houze Glass Bridge Table Lamp &exceptional Etched ShadeStunning Art Deco Fulper 1920's Ballerina Lady Perfume Lamp - Frankart Era Art Deco Mcm Faip Abstract Nude Woman Table Lamp & Shade Frederick Weinberg EraBohemian Czech Art Deco Glass Iridescent Glass Large Lamp Shade Desk Lamp Vintage Dazor Ufo Saucer Deco Industial Century Retro Drafting Shop Vintage Art Deco Sarsaparilla Chrome And Glass Air Plane LampVintage/antique Copper/brass Trench-art Style Deco Lamp W/eagle Wwi/ww12 Art Deco Bottom Lamp Finials Hanging Pan Chandelier Slip Shade Light Fixture Rare Copper 3-d Art Deco Period Table Motion Lamp Dog Reading Man By FireplaceAntique Victorian Hanging Lamp 5 Bulb Chandelier Art Deco Light Fixture 1 Of 3Art Deco Nouveau 5 Lt. Ornate Polychrome Chandelier Ceiling Lamp Four Art Deco Wooden Table Lamp BasesPair Pure Art Deco Satin Glass Slip Lamp Light Shades Electric Chandelier SconceAladdin Alacite Lamp Finial Pair Antique 1900-1940 Deco