The Broken Vase and Mrs and her Maid, by Jacques Biederer.
Source: the Internet Archive
The Biederer Studio, a.k.a. Studio Biederer, was one of the main producers of high quality erotic and fetish photography in Paris in the years between the two world wars. Its photographs explored sensational, explicit, and often ironic fantasies that pushed the boundaries of accepted sexuality.
In 1908 Jacques Biederer (1887-1942), a Czech immigrant, set up a photography studio in Paris. His brother Charles, who joined him in 1913, helped run the studio. Biederer most probably began as a portrait photographer who later switched to making erotic studies of undraped figures.
His earliest known photographs were fashionable, tastefully posed nudes inspired by classical art. Over time his compositions became more contemporary. He began to shoot outdoors, creating photo-sets that told a simple story, such as a romantic couple cavorting in a park.
At first, Biederer signed his photographs. When he began specializing in more risque subjects, he marked some with his initials J.B. or just “B” beneath an accent mark, and then stopped signing them altogether. Scores of unmarked images have been identified by the repeated use of the same models, costumes, props, furnishings and set decorations.
Sometime in the 1930s a subdivision called Ostra Studio was created. This line of photographs was intended for publication in erotic books, catalogs, and self-published “Editions Ostra” of photo-sets based on a theme. A few of these photos are marked “Ostra”, others have a question mark inside an inverted triangle symbol. Most are unmarked, which has created difficulties in separating the work of one division from the other.
The Ostra pictures encompass a broader range of subjects, including fantasy, romance, history, and humor. Unlike the studio-bound Biederer pictures, many of these are taken outdoors. These range from mildly suggestive images of romantic couples on a picnic to more risque, and sometimes humorous, displays of nudity, implied lesbianism, and playful spanking. One series with a historical theme shows a Napoleonic soldier confronting two women and then spanking them. Ostra produced an extensive series of nudes in semi-classical poses and elegant images of corporal punishment erotica that blends into the similar line made under the Biederer Studio name.
Biederer worked for other companies as well. He created photographs for Yva Richard’s La Lingerie Moderne mail-order catalog of lingerie and bondage accouterments. Many of these photos bear Ostra’s triangle-and-question-mark logo.
The studio also produced some of the earliest known 8mm (non-pornographic) stag reels depicting erotic F/F spanking and whipping scenarios. A few of these brief, silent reels have survived to the present day (see the Ostra Studio page for details).