The striking female image on the February 2, 1992 LIFE Magazine cover created by the illustrator Frank Xavier Leyendecker (1877-1924) was apparently the inspiration for the lovely “Butterfly Girl” bookends. The cover was labeled The Flapper and bore the date of 1922. The title and the date suggest an Art Deco image, but Mr. Leyendecker gave us an Art Nouveau image instead. The date of 1922 was very early in the Flapper era. Flappers, the bohemian young ladies of the nineteen twenties, became associated with low-waisted dresses and the Bob hair style, but not with wings. The Flapper cover displays a winged lady and a clinging, diaphanous dress, replicated in the bookends with the addition of whiplash curves in the wings, all iconic Art Nouveau features.
The bookends are large and heavy – six inches high, seven inches wide and 3.5 inches deep, nine pounds per pair, gray metal, and attributed to Ronson, circa 1923. We need to classify them as Art Nouveau style, but they give us a wonderful, fantasy, reminder of the bygone nineteen twenties.