Frankart Inc. was a New York City foundry established by the artist, Arthur von Frankenberg, in the early nineteen twenties. Frankart Inc. produced bookends, ashtrays, lamps, and other metal household accessories. Many of the items featured streamlined, sylph-like female nudes designed by von Frankenberg which were very well received, possibly because they contrasted with classical Victorian nudes and were compatible with the emerging boyish figures of the flapper girls. The success of Frankart items has continued to the present day, and Frankart bookends are collected today by lovers of Art Deco.
One of the earliest pairs of Frankart bookends are popularly known as Nude and Frog. The Nude and Frog bookends are transitional between Victorian and Art Deco styles. Each bookend presents a sylph-like nude standing on one leg and shying away from a frog nearby. The inclusion of the frog is a bow to the passing Victorian style which was overlapping with Art Deco at this time. The frog is a Victorian element which makes the female a creature of nature rather than a sexual object. Victorian nudes were often presented as nymphs or Classical Greek or Roman personages in order to avoid sexual connotation. Art Deco elements in these original bookends include a streamlined female and geometric buttressing.
The woman that posed for these bookends was Leone Osborne, a celebrated model of the day.
The nude in the original foundry pair is stabilized with Art Deco geometric buttressing against the supporting foot and ankle and is marked Copyright 1922 and Frankart Inc. These original pairs are rare. Gray metal, height 11.25 inches Inscription: Copyright 1922, Frankart Inc.
Later Frankart productions are unabashedly Art Deco, as can be seen in the bookends presented on the Decollector website.
There are many Nude and Frog pairs without the geometric buttressing around the nude’s foot and marked only with the 1922 date. These are later Frankart issues, such as the one in the 1930-31 catalog are listed as Frog. There are also unauthorized reproductions. Serious collectors obviously prefer the originals.
For contrast with the transitional Frankart pose, the bookends below show a female nude in Victorian style. She is certainly not an object of prurience, but is rather a creature of the forest and she plays with animals, such as this orange frog, and does not traffic with men.
Armor Bronze, Forest Nymph and Frog, signed by Salvador Morani, circa 1914, height 7.5 inches, electroformed bronze.