Emilio Casarotto – artist behind buxomy female figurines
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    Auction Finds

    Buxomy black female figurines

    I was previewing photos of an upcoming auction earlier this week when I spotted them. They were figurines of black women, 13 of them, dressed in brightly colored bathing suits, church suits and night-out-on-the-town outfits.

    Whoa! I said in my head, and took another look. The thing that was disturbing about them was the ham-sized thighs on the women and some of the Jezebel-like poses. Among the figurines were a nurse, a Flamingo dancer, a woman in a bathtub with bubble bath, a basketball player and a cocktail waitress.


    There was nothing flattering about them or their poses. To me, they seemed to be a source of ridicule. There was something a bit offensive about their exposed bodies, especially at a time when obesity among black women is a major health issue. Sometimes, I’m reluctant to post these types of images because I don’t want to be a party to our degradation. But I think we as black women should see how we are portrayed.

    Once I got to the auction house the next day, I looked around for the items on a table. And there they were, just as in-your-face in person as they were on the website. The auctioneer described them as “Rubenesque lady figures.” Rubenesque referred to the plump full-figured women in the works of Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). He was known for his movement, color and sensuality, and apparently loved to paint his wife and white models with ample and dimpled hips.

    The Urban Dictionary noted:

    “The women in Rubens paintings were often very plump, with large round hips. While it was once a compliment, now it [is] often a criticism or back handed compliment.”

    At the auction, I stood around just to see who would buy the pieces and for how much. One thing I’ve found is that Black Americana sells at auction houses. I rarely buy any of it, unless it shows us in a favorable light. Rubenesque or not, these did not appeal to me.

    They appealed, however, to one black female bidder.

    When the auctioneer got around to the table with the pieces, he unabashedly lifted one of them up and looked at the bottom, where you’ll normally find any previous price and origin. They were hand-painted in Italy, he said. They cost $1,100 each.


    Then the bidding was on. For the first round, he asked for bids per piece. As usual, the actual bidding got started at $5 per figurine. It ended at $65. The black female bidder took four of them.

    In the second round, each went for $35. She took two more. Next, the auctioneer sold the remaining seven as one lot but by the piece. They went for $15 each to a new bidder.

    Total for all: $435.

    The auction moved on to the next items. That’s the way it is at auction houses, nothing much causes a stir – except in people’s hearts, at least – because this is a business without sentimentality.

    I’m very curious about who made these figurines. They appeared to be mass-produced, with very little or no artistry. Were they supposed to be a compliment or a slap? What do you think?

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    1. I have one of these figurines. A friend purchased it while overseas. I had also seen them in an art gallery in West Bloomfield, MI. Originally I didn’t know how to take them, insult or flattery. Everyday I passed this gallery (and) fell in love with them. I wanted them all but could not afford them because they sold for around 300.00 and more. The artist’s name on mine looks like Emilio Caromolte. I was trying to find more when I came across your article. I’ve given up on searching the web and called the gallery, so I’m waiting on a call back. They think the figures may still be there. Hopefully, your article will help me bargain a better price. Thanks and don’t feel insulted. I’m full figured and love that someone created a statue in my likeness. I think they are beautiful.

      • Thanks, Kathy. I don’t recall if the ones at the auction were signed. I hope the gallery will be able to identify them. I’d like to know more about the artist and the background on the figurines.


        • The name of the artist is Emilo Casarotto of Italy. He also has white models in this line “CHUBBY MODELS”.
          I too think they are beautiful and have previously purchased several pieces, as they are no longer readily available, you can still find a few pieces on ebay.

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