"Bosoms: They've Been Prominent In History"
by Cyrus W. Bell
Vol. 5, No. 12, 1961
IN THE YEAR 1505 when
Henry VII was the King of England a crackerjack team of envoys left London
for Valencia to size up the widowed Queen of Naples as a potential marriage
partner for the young British monarch seeking a royal wife. King Henry
had given instructions to his three representatives to make a reconnaissance
and double-barreled survey of "her upper physique."
Satisfied that Queen Joanna possessed considerable
wealth and abundant land and that she had a reasonable amount of charm
and poise, the King nevertheless sought something more than this in his
bride. He wanted to know if "said woman's breasts were somewhat great and
full." He ordered his scouting party "to mark her breasts and paps, whether
they be big or small, and to ascertain whether they be trussed somewhat
To King Henry the measurement of his intended spouse's
upper anatomy was definitely not the least important part of her total
property, as you can see from the way he dispatched sex spies all the way
to Spain. Royal smartie that he was, Hank the Seventh wanted to know for
sure whether the female who was to share his bed and board "was every inch
For the envoys sent back a full report to the effect
that "the said Queen's breasts were great and full to satisfaction." The
report also noted that Joanna's globoids were trussed so high "after the
manner of the country that her neck appears shorter than it is."
Speaking of King Henry's sex mission to Spain, leads
us right into the subject matter for today: Bosoms.
This is a topic that would make any red-blooded
research man titillate with excitement. When it comes toyou-know-what,
all women fall somewhere between Anita Ekberg's
(00) and Grace Kelly's (oo). And, according to historical documents, that's
the way it has always been down through the ages, ever since the female
form was first fashioned from Adam's rib.
Some people today seem to think that this era's
interest in the blouse-busting brigade is something that sprouted after
World War II. Guess again, podner. People have been interested in the double-grapefruits
for a long, long time. When it comes to "busting out all over," June, Joan
and Jane have played prominent parts. (pun intended) throughout the centuries.
Since the daughters of Eve have always made interesting pets for men, this
documented article will make a clean breast of everything and trace the
history and body-logy of Adam's bosom pal. So here's the lowdown on the
First, let's go all the way back to Egypt. Scientists
exploring the tombs of the Pharaohs discovered that these ole timers knew
a good thing, too. On the murals of nearly every Egyptian tomb have been
found paintings of the femme figure dressed at half-mast. One famous drawing,
titled "Banquet Scene," dates From the reign of the 18th Dynasty, the great
Ikhnaton, who hies back to 1350 B.C.
Even the ancient tribes that roamed England--the
Britons and the Picts--used the female front for what probably were man's
first movies. Once a year these barbarians staged a feast in honor of the
goddess Anu--at which time the young girls all tinted their pectoral appendages
with various dyes and tattoos.
Then when the maidens danced, the men sat back and
enjoyed the pictorial pectorals which quivered in slow motion. These were
the first motion pictures. Naturally the Academy Award went to the best
"movie" put on by the lassie who had the largest screen surface. The Britons
and the Picts apparently recognized the advantages of CinemaScope 2,000
years before Hollywood.
Not all of the ancient peoples, however, have held
the breast in such high esteem. In Greek history, according to Herodotus,
the tribe of warrior women who were defeated and taken prisoner by the
Greeks used to burn the right bosom off so that in battle it would not
interfere with the handling of a spear or a bow and arrow. Hence the name
Amazon, which means "breastless." The Amazons eventually made their escape
by sea to the Crimea and mixed with the Scythians. The offspring of these
intermarriages abandoned the practice of removing one breast because the
women decided to emphasize the differences between the sexes and be sweethearts
as well as soldiers.
Man's treasure chest, unfortunately, received still
another setback, along the course of its history, during the Middle Ages,
when the Inquisition developed torture and punishment into one of the prevailing
fine arts. To punish an offending female, an executioner would tie her
to a pole with arms stretched up ward. Then he would drive long spikes
sideways through her breasts and nail the wretched victim to the wooden
On the other hand, the Renaissance brought, for
the first time in several centuries, an appreciation of Eve's features
north of her equator. In their dress women began to remove the cloth that
had constricted their throats and gradually freed the line of the neck.
The line moved down and soon fashionable ladies of Florence, proud of their
décolletage, were showing the first swelling of the breasts.
Now it didn't take long for the artists to get into
the act. Painters and sculptors, bold spirits that they were, were quick
to seize the opportunity to depict chesty women sans brassiere--both in
marble and on canvas. Botticelli's "Venus Anadyomene" was one of the first
art works to kick off the trend--it showed her covering her intimate parts
as if she were captured nude on the high seas by pirates and were looking
for some garments to cover her accessories.
But the real art of the nude bosom was born in Venice.
This lagoon city made no bones about admitting that milady was interesting
in so far as she excited the senses. The painter responsible for starting
the ball rolling was a genius known as Giorgione ("Big George," if you
prefer the English translation of his name). Although he died in early
manhood at the age of 32, in an epidemic of the plague, Giorgione became
one of the most influential nude painters of the Renaissance. Women besieged
this genius to have him paint their bountiful breasts for all to see. This
is nice work, if you can get it--and Big George got it.
Unfortunately, only a few of his authentic paintings
survive today. The most famous one, "Sleeping Venus," is now in the Dresden
Gallery in Germany. According to a top art historian, the contours and
proportions of Giorgione's Venus are delicately perfect and harmonious
against the landscape setting. In his "Rustic Concert," now in the Louvre
in Paris, Giorgione enhances the charm of his nude by placing behind her
two fully clad male figures--a gimmick subsequently copied by many painters.
Giorgione's fellow countryman, Titian, carried on
the movement of painting the undraped bosom for fully two generations after
the former's premature death. Kings and emperors competed for "Venuses"
which Titian turned out like sausages to satisfy the demands of the Renaissance
VIP's. Titian's stuff was even more interesting to the men because many
of the portraits were of grand ladies of the era. The Duchess of Urbino,
for example, sat stripped for hours on end as Titian's model. The canvas
is still on public exhibition in Florence's Uffizi Gallery.
Other famous masterpieces of this type of art are
Rembrandt's "Daphne," Goya's "Nude Maja" and Tintoretto's "Susannah." This
last piece alone is valued at over a million dollars and is on exhibit
in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum. Mention also should be made of Germany's
Lucas Cranach the Elder whose sensual figures make him the master north
of the Alps, largely for the clever way he contrasted his bared courtesans
with wavy feathered hats.
Curiously enough, France--which normally leads the
continent in the field of sexual pleasure--lagged be hind the Italians
in adopting the cult of the nude breast. Comparatively late in French art
did such painting begin to emerge. Perhaps the most daring example is the
one, done by an unknown hand, which is in the Louvre. In it two young women
sit side by side in a bath--one of th. girls is touching the other's nipple
Although the French took a long time to catch up
to their southern counterparts on the long thin Mediterranean peninsula,
they eventually--as was to be expected--surpassed the Italians and went
them several steps better.
Around the time of the French Revolution, according
to official documents, a number of well-known actresses and ballet dancers
frequently walked along the fashion able streets of Paris with their bosoms
completely exposed. For nearly three years this was a fad among showbiz
dolls who were inordinately well endowed. This particular style of dressing
caused its share of sensation, but never a scandal. Need less to say, it
was especially good for business at the boxoffice.
The pendulous Parisienne who started this unique
fashion was one Theresia Cabarrus, sometimes described as the possessor
of the most beautiful twin-pointers in all history. Theresia, a brunette
from Bordeaux who bragged that she never wore a bra in her life, was said
to have measured 111.76 centimeters on top, 40.64 cm. in the middle and
81.28 cm. down below. So if you do your metric measurement arithmetic properly,
that comes out to a startling 44--16-32.
By a quirk of fate Theresia al most never had an
opportunity to show her stuff to the world, for during her teen years she
was arrested as a counter-revolutionary and sentenced by Robespierre to
be guillotined. If it hadn't been for the intervention of Bordeaux's pro-consul,
Jean-Lambert Tallien, who was a member of the Convention and who was indeed
fascinated by her enormous dimensions upstairs, Theresia might have made
a premature exit with her beautiful head detached from the superb rest
of her. What a loss that would have been!
Paris today still retains some of the after effects
of Theresia's bare-breasted boulevard bravado. Today if you visit the Paris
Opera House near the American Express office you'll be hit squarely between
the eyes by the lineup of stacked statues which surround the venerable
theare on the outside. They're all female dancers in dionysiac ecstasy
who are wearing nothing above the ankles. They are the work of Jean-Baptiste
Carpeaux, leading sculptor of the Second Empire, whose inspiration came
years later from top-heavy Theresia's biography. An organized storm of
indignation erupted in the French capital because of the "naked women on
the boulevard," but nothing came of the howls.
Another influence of Theresia's public display of
her unique equipment was to give rise to the strip tease as we know it
today. Taking a cue from the mammarific mademoiselle, American actress
Adah Isaacs Menken is generally credited with having performed the first
stage striptease in 1863 while appearing in the title role of "Mazeppa"
in London. Since that time the art of shedding the bra has projected into
a big business.
Registration figures from the American Guild of
Variety Artists show that there are more than 2,000 strippers currently
paying dues. One of these peel-for-pay packages is Evelyn West, who has
had her 42- inch front insured for $50,000 by Lloyds of London. Another
Guild performer, sleek Ann Corio, achieved a certain immortality for herself
when it became known that Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes would visit
the Gaiety Burlesque Theatre in Washington every week just to view her
topographically perfect superstructure which she bared with dual personality.
Today's crop of D-cup lovelies have figure-filbert
connoisseurs all over America specializing in seam- bursting statistics.
No living citizen of the United States, be he over the age of 15½,
can honestly say he's never heard of Anita Ekberg's
eminent 40-22-37, or Sabrina's pulsating 42-18-36,
or Jayne Mansfield's whistle-bait 41-20-35. These
are numbers that are more famous than No. 10 Downing Street.
The bosom has come into its own since great English
poet Robert Herrick wrote his classic ode entitled, "Upon the Nipples of
Julia's Breast," in a century when young women tended to be ashamed of
Nature's bilateral masterpiece. To day busts are booming. The bosom derby
is in high. Stocks such as Formfit common and Maidenform preferred have
These are bare facts. Such figures as 39-23-36 and
38-24-35 in the sexonomic curve of the graph add up to a lot of nifty numbers.
With the tight sweater queens showing off their assets, they have hit upon
a form-ula that has created quite a bit of interest in the front lines
of big business.