A French postcard is a small, postcard-sized photograph of a nude or semi-nude woman. Such erotic cards were produced in great volume, primarily in France, in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Because nudity was seen so far only in classic paintings, people were excited by the new technique of photography, which made it possible to collect erotic images otherwise not accessible apart from expensive artworks. New industrial reproduction techniques allowed publishers of postcards to sell large amounts of various series. The cards were sold as postcards, but the primary purpose was not for sending by mail, as they would have been banned from delivery. Due to the contemporary moral and law, these cards were usually sold and traded discretely in stores or by street dealers.
Most of the photographers kept their work anonymous by using acronymic signatures. They didn’t want to risk their public reputation, or to get in troubles with the law. Nevertheless photographers in Paris like Jean Agélou, Louis Amedée Mante or Julian Mandel produced numerous series of semi-nude and nude photographs of a large variety of anonymous models. Modelling for nude photography was kept secretly too. This is why there are only a very few known names of artists from theatre or music halls.
Jeanne Juilla, born in 1910 at Villeneuve-sur-Lot (Lot-et-Garonne), France, was a model and actress. She elected Miss Garonne in 1930 and Miss France the next year. On February 5, 1931, in Paris, she became the first French Miss Europe, among the representatives of 16 European countries.
Being a contestant for Miss Europe was tough. In the countries that already had pageants, the girls began in small contests and worked their way up, from local cantons to provinces and finally the capital. The contestants had to possess those genuine, innocent yet sensual charms. Some entrants came from privileged backgrounds, where they had been taught the etiquette of table manners and the art of small talk from an early age, but the judges could also be touched by a young lady’s journey from small town baker’s daughter to culture symbol to the metropolis. Such a girl had led a wholesome, positive life, a role model the world.
“My greatest ambition is to make my mother happy. I will not go on the stage or screen. Just a few weeks ago I saw a large city for the first time—Paris!” Jeanne Juilla, Miss Europe 1931: Time Magazine, Feb. 16, 1931
It was a standard for the winners of such beauty-pageants to have several types of photo shoots, and some were in nude. Jeanne Juilla, was above average in height with hazel eyes of bluish/greenish/grey, and dark hair. She worked as a dress maker with her mother in a small business in Villeneuve-Sur-Lot, where she spent the greater part of her life, according to “The Straits Times, 18 April 1931”.
Tracing what happened to the various contestants after they won turns up precious little. A few moved on to acting or modelling careers, usually short lived and unspectacular. For most the beauty pageant was their one brief brush with fame.
Jeanne Juilla’s filmography: His best client (1932), The Prison of St. Chlothaire (1934), A woman chipée (1934), Samson (1936).
Sources / More to read:
Wikipedia: French postcard
Wikipedia: Jeanne Juilla
Boudoir-Cards: French (Erotic) Postcards
Boudoir-Cards: Jeanne Juilla
One Man’s Treasure: Pageants of Pulchritude