Julian Mandel

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Julian Mandel erotic postcard ca. 1920

"Julian Mandel" (1872–1935) is the identity given to one of the best-known commercial photographers of female nudes of the early twentieth century. Signature photography bearing that name became known in the 1910s and was published in Paris through the mid-1930s by such firms as Alfred Noyer, Les Studios, P-C Paris, and the Neue Photographische Gesellschaft.

Biographical information on Mandel is scarce and there has been speculation that the name is only a pseudonym.

The models often are found in highly arranged classical poses, photographed both in-studio and outdoors. The images are composed artfully, with exquisite tones and soft use of lighting—showing a particular texture created by light rather than shadow.

Reportedly, Mandel was a member of, and participated in, the German avant-garde "new age outdoor" or "plein air" movement.[citation needed] Numerous pictures sold under this name feature natural settings, playing on the ultra pale, uniform skin tones of the women set against the roughness of nature.

The nude photographs were marketed in a postcard-sized format, but as "A Brief History of Postcards" explains, "A majority of the French nude postcards were called postcards because of the size. They were never meant to be postally sent. It was illegal to send such images in the post (see History of erotic photography). The size enabled them to be placed readily into jacket pockets, packages, and books.

The full name, Julian Mandel, usually appears on the front of these card-sized photographs, being one of the few photographers of the day to stamp or sign a name on the front of works. This application of a marketing concept, contributes to the idea that the name might have been a pseudonym. Large numbers were sold.

There is a belief nowadays[who?] that Julian Mandel was the pseudonym of Julian Walery, a well known photographer of the same period.[citation needed] Walery also created "plein-air" and exquisite deco-style nudes in the 1920s. It may well be that Walery used the name "Mandel" when selling work to publisher Alfred Noyer, for publishing as postcard-sized images. The use of the name "Julian" and the similarity of the imagery where nudes are concerned is too great to write off as mere coincidence.

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