Maiden Voyages: June 2020

(Last Updated On June 1, 2020)

Sanity for a Change: Pip informed me of the decision regard the sale of dot-org domains. The sale would have been a real setback for many volunteer organizations.

In the Works: As always, new posts appear sporadically. I wish I could dedicate full time to this endeavor but I have many interests and am now in a committed relationship and there can be no cutting corners there. And periodically, opportunities to make new connections or get access to hard-to-find material come up and must be taken advantage of immediately. Currently, I am negotiating to expand PIgtails’ Edwardian postcard collection. This was really someone else’s project but they have been incommunicado for a few years now. I have reached the letter C in the ‘Artists by Name’ database, An outline of definitions will be the basis of the ‘My Thesis’ page to eventually be found under the ‘About’ tab. I have been pressured by a number of serious individuals to put the theoretical scientific and philosophical principles in one place. I often allude to this idea or that on individual posts but there really needs to be one place where readers can understand the “big picture” anthropological framework of our efforts here. Also, there will be a ‘Online Resources’ page for leads on other sites of interest organized by contrivance. It is my hope that Pigtails in Paint can serve as an important nexus with regards to the subject of young/little girls. Stay Healthy! -Ron

Album Covers: Xuxa’s Lambaixinhos

(Last Updated On May 30, 2020)

A reader submitted these covers for consideration. These are the album covers (front and back) for a dance music release produced by the Brazilian television host Xuxa as part of an audiovisual series aimed at children. Unfortunately, I do not read Portuguese and am not completely sure about the background of this release.

Xuxa – Lambaixinhos (front cover) (c2000)

Xuxa – Lambaixinhos (back cover) (c2000)

The interesting thing is that it portrays children dancing (presumably to the music). The presence of the children is appealing and is aimed at that age market, but these images do bring up the question of the ethics of children imitating adults. Like most music of this genre, it is sexually suggestive and children were probably taught do perform the dances convincingly. Also, children who learn dancing at an early age can become quite skilled and well express the joy of the activity (they make it seem effortless). The ethical question, as is often the case, is two-edged: what kind of adult activities should children be allowed to emulate and at what age? and are children at the age shown really all that naive about matters of human sexuality as expressed in their culture? Does “the Queen of Children” go too far in this portrayal?

Random Images: The Joy of Trousers

(Last Updated On May 17, 2020)

In an earlier post, I included a postcard of a girl trying to be one of the boys. Gender aside, we are human beings who want to indulge in the pleasures of life. Until the fairly recent conveniences of life, the demanding requisites of reproduction and child-rearing for women made it more difficult for them—with the possible exception of girls born into aristocratic families. These postcards were meant to be humorous—it really shows how humor changes over time—but I feel a certain sadness when I look at them. That society should impose standards of dress and behavior on girls so that they are less able to experience the joys of freedom inspires pity. The opportunity to wear trousers (with permission or illicitly) must have seemed like a Godsend. A girl could then engage in exuberant physical activities with abandon and not risk appearing indecorous by accidentally exposing her private parts (with or without panties).

‘What a chance’ postcard (c1900)

Random Images: Pity the Child Bride

(Last Updated On May 13, 2020)

An important movement in the effort to stop the sexual exploitation of children was in the Unites States in the 1930s. In rural areas, it was not uncommon for girls to marry at very young ages, much earlier than what we would consider the age of consent. The moral crusades to stop such practices were exemplified in films like Child Bride (1938) starring Shirley Mills (which will be reviewed here at some point). Besides having a controversial plot to get people into the theaters, it was also a form of propaganda showing how backward and ignorant these people were.

What is often forgotten is how marriageable age and life span tend to be linked. In an age of prosperity and creature comforts, people lived longer, and marriage could be put off to allow some enjoyment of the pleasures of life. But life in the Appalachian “hollers” was a rough one and the priority of marriage was not so much to validate the love between a man and a woman, but a household arrangement that would allow the couple and their family to survive. Any man capable of making a good living was quite desirable and families with daughters would hedge their bets—and save money—by marrying off their girls to such men early. I suppose there are many who would speculate about the sexual standards of these arrangements, but even more important was the ability and willingness of girls to manage the household while the husband was working on the family farm, ranch or other business—it was a popular stereotype to regard them all as moonshiners.

With all that being said, I present a news item discovered by an associate. It includes a photo of a man kissing his 12-year-old wife but tells the story of how they were married when she was 10 and the man’s efforts to have the girl adopted properly through the system bureaucracy. Given the circumstances, the courts actually upheld the legitimacy of this marriage. So what is the real cause for our pity: that a girl should marry at such a young age or that in such a prosperous nation, so many people must live these hard lives?

The Pittsburgh Press – ‘Homer Peel, 34, Kisses His 12-Year-Old Bride Geneva On The Steps Of A Tennessee Courthouse’ (April 19, 1937)

This item was found on a historical website called Flashbak that documents interesting and unusual news stories.

Album Covers: “A Little Russian”

(Last Updated On May 13, 2020)

Our last posted album cover did prompt some discussion including the bad use of word play to sell albums in that time period. I also commented that we were unlikely to see anything bizarre with classical music covers, but now I have to eat my words. The following cover is from an obscure release of Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony (known as “Little Russian”) by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. As you can see, this is a kind of tasteless play on words that, I assume, was meant to be eye-catching. Alfred Van Weth conducted that orchestra roughly between 1955 and 1965 but if anyone has more exact details out there, it would be much appreciated. Also, if anyone actually has this album, perhaps the photographer is credited as well.

Album Cover – (Photographer Unknown) (c1960)

Random Images: Edward Atkinson Hornel

(Last Updated On May 13, 2020)

Even though we have a huge backlog of material to get put up on this site, it is still nice to get ideas and suggestions from readers. Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864–1933) was a Scottish painter who did landscapes, flowers and foliage that included children. Here are two favorites from our reader.

Edward Atkinson Hornel – The Coming of Spring (1899)

Edward Atkinson Hornel – Girl and Swans (1918)


Maiden Voyages: May 2020

(Last Updated On May 3, 2020)

No news items came across my desk this month. That is not to say that there is not a lot going on behind the scenes and I will get to that in a bit.

What does seem to be on everybody’s mind is the Covid-19 virus. Some people may be taking solace in the fact that it is the elderly and those with weak immune systems who are the most affected, but for the children, it also means the loss of beloved grandparents, great aunts and uncles whose wisdom influences the upbringing of these youngsters. It should be noted that no trend is perfectly consistent; there have been some deaths even among seemingly healthy young people. For instance, a 12-year-old girl died in Belgium and a 13-year-old boy in the UK. The most alarming aspect is how people are failing to deal with the stress of being cooped up with their children. I have been getting some reports from instructors doing remote learning with students with the necessary equipment. Apparently, some parents out of exasperation are telling their children that the virus will go away if they are good little boys and girls (echos of similar admonitions during the Black Death or the witch hunts). Children already internalize bad things that go on around them and I find it despicable that parents have resorted to this. The kids think they are being punished for misdeeds and that is why they cannot go to the park to play with their friends!

Behind the Scenes: Like many people, the virus did temporarily slow down business for me which gave me a chance to catch up with things. But readers should be assured that if there is not much happening on the surface of the website, there are things happening behind the scenes. You wonderful readers are periodically coming forward with interesting leads and information and it is necessary to follow up in a timely manner. A few of you have noticed some additions to the reference pages of this site and are helping to fill in the gaps. There is also a lot going on to help give proper identifications to random images floating around on the internet. People scan images because they like them (Pinterest is a notorious example) and do not bother having source information attached to the images. Sometimes someone will obsess about a particular model though and so an effort is underway to create an index of model names (or pseudonyms) along with page layout information that can serve as clues to the original source. Because of the effects of censorship, it is not even possible to get a comprehensive index of the books and magazines that have been produced. We are working on remedying that.

Stay Healthy!

Album Covers: Jimmy Rhodes

(Last Updated On May 20, 2020)

There is an interesting addendum at the end of this post. -Ron

A reader just sent me a number of leads on album covers. Normally, Pip handles these things, but given that he has stepped away from the site for the most part, it falls to me to pick up the standard. I should advise readers that I will not have anything whatsoever to say about the music itself since my interest is in classical, ragtime, blues, jazz etc.

It is often a mystery why an album cover design is chosen and sometimes there are clues for us to speculate, but today’s item is pretty straightforward. It is an image of musician Jimmy Rhodes serenading his daughter.

Jimmy Rhodes plays for Deborah (altered album cover)

Perhaps in the days before the internet, people could be forgiven for not knowing that Deborah is Rhodes’ daughter. But on the other hand, that is beside the point. Whether the girl is close relative, friend of the family or just charming neighbor girl, some accounting should be made for the power of little girls to serve as muse. Only those with the basest mentality would assume there is something sexual going on even in cases when a girl is being portrayed erotically (Balthus, for instance). Human social interactions are more complex than that and little girls do indeed make excellent muses because of the way they can bring out life affirming feelings and take wonder at the artistic process.

This reminds me of a tangential connection that is nonetheless relevant. In the Robert Altman film Gosford Park, Julian Fellowes (the screenwriter) commented about the behavior of entertainers. In one scene, Ivor Novello (a real historical figure) is serenading one of the guests at a fancy country house. A casual observer might make the mistake that the performer—in this case, a singer, songwriter and pianist—is trying to woo the listener as she rapturously listens to the performance. In fact, Novello was actually gay and would have had no sexual interest at all, but as a performer, he has to put on the right kind of show for the audience. Thus if a little girl happened to admire daddy’s skills as a performer, it would be perfectly sensible for him to make use of this to hone his performance and—what the hell—give some pleasure to the girl.

[200520] A colleague of mine just sent me a scan of the original cover. It turns out that someone with a twisted sense of humor (or an ax to grind) altered the album cover to make it more sensational. They took the trouble to match the font and color to make it convincing. This is the actual cover:

Jimmy Rhodes plays for Deborah (original album cover) (1975)

Farm Girls in Naturalist Painting 3: A Harvest of Brown Eyes and Auburn Hair

(Last Updated On April 23, 2020)

After poor French peasant girls covered with rags, we will now see English beauties wearing a clean white pinafore while they take part in harvesting and haymaking … probably a less realistic view of rural life.

The son of a painter, George Clausen was born in London on April 18, 1852. He first trained as a draughtsman in the office of the company George Trollope & Sons. He studied at South Kensington School of Art between 1873 and 1875. Then he worked with several academic painters, first in the studio of Edwin Longsden Long, next in 1883 at the Académie Julian in Paris, under William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury.

He soon showed an interest in country life and landscape, and he was particularly influenced by Jean-François Millet and Jules Bastien-Lepage. He admired the naturalism of Bastien-Lepage, and he would write a long essay about him in André Theuriet’s memoir; he praised him while seeing a limitation in his “literal representation” of nature. Indeed, Clausen would to some extent be influenced by Impressionism.

He loved to paint the countryside and rural life in northwest Essex. His major works can be found on Wikimedia Commons, the Art Renewal Center site, ArtUK, and Tate. Many drawings by him, as well as some pastels and watercolours, can be found in the Royal Academy Collection.

Clausen won official recognition, being elected to the Royal Academy, first as an Associate in 1895, then as Academician in 1906, and he taught painting there. During World War I he served as an official war artist. He was knighted in 1927. He died in Newbury, Berkshire, on November 22, 1944. Further details about his life and works can be found on The Victorian Web and the site of The Hundred Parishes Society.

I now present a few paintings by Clausen of peasant girls involved in harvesting or haymaking. They all wear a white dress or a white pinafore. I suspect that the scenes must be idealised, as it is difficult to remain so clean while participating in a rather dirty work.

A girl in a wheat field:

George Clausen - Brown eyes (1891)

George Clausen – Brown eyes (1891)

Next, one near a basket of wheat, while a man harvests behind:

George Clausen - Little Rose (1889)

George Clausen – Little Rose (1889)

Here the background looks like a wheat field:

George Clausen - Head of a young girl (1890)

George Clausen – Head of a young girl (1890)

Here we don’t see a field, but the title says all:

George Clausen - Young rural girl (1896)

George Clausen – Young rural girl (1896)

The rake indicates that the girl has been working:

George Clausen - Noon in the hayfield (1897)

George Clausen – Noon in the hayfield (1897)

This girl is not working, but going to school; however, she still wears a pinafore and she is walking along a field:

George Clausen - Natte / A schoolgirl (1889)

George Clausen – Natte / A schoolgirl (1889)

Readers will probably have noticed that these girls all have brown eyes and auburn hair. Maybe Clausen selected them because these colours are in harmony with those of their work environment: straw, hay, trees and soil. Indeed, he painted several other girls with different eye or hair colours and in a different environment; I mention a few ones here, with a link to the images. First a girl with auburn hair but blue eyes; she still has a white pinafore, but the background only vaguely reminds of hay. Next, two girls with black hair and green eyes: one with a greenish scarf and a dark green coat, surrounded by bright greenery, and one in a green meadow. Finally a girl indoors, with black hair and brown eyes, in front of a brown wall.

We have thus seen how in the choice of a painting, the harmony between the subject and the topic can sometimes involve some little details that would escape the ordinary onlooker.

Farm Girls in Naturalist Painting 2: Pauvre Fauvette

(Last Updated On April 23, 2020)

After The Goose Girl of Mézy, here is another rural girl covered with rags.

Jules Bastien-Lepage was born on November 1, 1848, in the village of Damvillers, near Verdun. His father owned a vineyard. He went to Paris in 1867, where he worked some time at the postal service. His first application to the École des beaux-arts de Paris was unsuccessful, but he was nevertheless allowed to follow courses as an aspiring student. The next year he entered the workshop of the academic painter Alexandre Cabanel, where he was trained in drawing. In October 1868, he was finally admitted to the École des beaux-arts. In 1870-71, he fought in the Franco-Prussian war, and was wounded. Then he returned home, where he painted villagers.

In 1875, he won the second place for the famous “Grand Prix de Rome” with his painting L’Annonciation aux bergers. He would soon be recognized in France as the leader of the emerging Naturalist school. His brother Émile (1854–1938) also became a painter, studying with him. Jules died of cancer on December 10, 1884 in Paris, at the age of 36.

His works can be found on Wikimedia Commons, the Art Renewal Center site, WikiArt, and ArtUK. They include many portraits, but also depictions of rural life, in particular work in the fields.

I present here my selection, the portrait of a poorly clad little farm girl. It is an oil painting on canvas, 162.5 × 125.7 cm² (63¾ × 49¼ in²). This image from the Art Renewal Center, with its predominant green colour, is different from most other renderings, which have large patches of yellow and orange. I cannot ascertain which one is more faithful to the original painting, since I don’t know in which month it was made: green would prevail in spring, and orange in autumn.

Jules Bastien-Lepage - Pauvre Fauvette

Jules Bastien-Lepage – Pauvre Fauvette (1881)

The French title translates as “Poor Warbler.” Indeed, the French word fauvette translates as “typical warbler” (a bird in any species of the genus Sylvia). It is also a forename for girls, but a quite rare one: according to French official statistics, only 76 girls born in France between 1900 and 2018 were named Fauvette (and none later than 1970). The bird’s name comes from the word fauve that designates the fawn colour, a somewhat dark orange—the art school of Fauvism is named after that colour. This makes me even more puzzled about the colour of the landscape in the original painting: is it a “fauve” scene?

Bastien-Lepage did another painting of a poorly-clad peasant girl, titled Young Girl. Compare the two renderings of it by the Art Renewal Center and by WikiArt.

My third post in the series will be devoted to the peasant girls painted by George Clausen, in particular to the colour of their eyes and hair, which is in harmony with their participation in harvesting and haymaking.