Jean Agélou

Jean Agélou (1878-1921; French) was the largest producer of nude postcards during the period of 1908-1916. He left little of his personal history behind but a vast amount of nude works in the form of stereo views, postcards, and magazines.
In the a book, "Jean Agélou: De l’académisme à la photographie de charme" by Christian Bourdon and Jean Agélou, the grandson of George Agélou, GA. Bourdon, a collector of postcards, accumulates many images bearing the initials JA. Starting with very few clues, he was able to trace the birth of the photographer, the address of his business (which we only have seen on one JA cabinet card) and the registration of his business. He finds the grandson of George Agelou (GA), whose name is also Jean Agélou and, together, they write a compelling story, filling in some of the missing details of the two photographers’ lives.Images of nude women are as old as photography itself but the distribution of the nude image was very poor. Agélou started his business marketing stereo views but due to the obvious limitations, he needed another outlet. Postcards were just beginning to revolutionize the distribution of the photographic image, in particular, the nude, and timing couldn’t have been better for Jean Agélou.In 1908, Jean Agélou began producing magazines for artists called "L’Etude Académique". Billed as model references, the magazines were sold in newsstands in a sealed envelope complying with the law of 1899 and while artists benefited from the production of the magazine, Agélou’s "real" business was dealing in mail order, fully nude, un-retouched postcards, which were discreetly delivered directly to the home.

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