Eliseu Visconti

(Last Updated On May 18, 2022)

Eliseu Visconti was born in Italy in 1866. The Visconti family moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil before Eliseu was ten years old. Visconti studied at the São Paulo School of Arts and Crafts and at the Brazilian Imperial Academy. In 1888 he was awarded a gold medal by the Academy. He went to Paris to study art at the French schools in 1893. Eugène Grasset, a pioneer of the Art Nouveau movement, was one of Visconti’s teachers. Eliseu Visconti introduced Art Nouveau to Brazil.

After returning to Brazil, Visconti was made a professor of painting at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes. He was in Europe again in 1913 to 1920, and during that time he painted the foyer paintings for the Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, and shipped them back to Brazil. Young girls are the subject of many of Visconti’s art. Ten examples are included in this article. Images in this post are from The Eliseu Visconti Project site, where a more comprehensive collection of Visconti’s art, and his biography may be seen.

Eliseu Visconti – Nu de Pé (1892)

Nu de Pé (Standing Nude) was painted in 1892. It is the earliest Visconti painting in this post, and by comparing it with later paintings we can see how the artist progressed. The face is not as expressive as in later paintings; she looks as if she is bored by posing. Her left hand looks large and masculine, almost as if it is another person’s hand.

Eliseu Visconti – No Verão ou Menina com Ventarola (1893)

No Verão ou Menina com Ventarola (In the Summer or Girl with a Fan) was painted in 1893. Like the previous image, Visconti painted it in Paris. The girl’s expression seems more relaxed, and to me this painting seems more natural than Nu de Pé.

Eliseu Visconti – As Duas Irmãs ou No Verão (1894)

As Duas Irmãs ou No Verão (The Two Sisters or In the Summer) is similar to Menina com Ventarola. Look at the bedposts in the background of Menina com Ventarola and you will see that she is on the same bed as As Duas Irmãs. Both paintings have the same alternate title, No Verão.

Eliseu Visconti – Oréades preliminary drawing (1899)

A preliminary drawing and a finished painting for Oréades (Forest Nymphs) are shown. When I first saw Oréades, I thought it was a painting of seven adolescent girls. I saw six girls in flimsy diaphanous garments that left their bodies visible, and one nude but draped with a ribbon that concealed the figure’s right breast and pubic area. According to The Eliseu Visconti Project, the nude figure with the ribbon is actually a shepherd boy dancing with six nymphs. In the preliminary drawing for Oréades, it can be seen that the effeminate appearing shepherd was modeled by an adolescent girl.

Eliseu Visconti – Oréades (1899)

After Visconti returned to Brazil, he organized an exhibition of his work at the National School of Fine Arts in 1901. The study for the cover of the exhibition catalog is typical Art Nouveau. The four nude girls are growing from, and part of a thorny vine. It is to me a very intriguing image. I would have liked to see a full color painting of this work.

Eliseu Visconti – As artes – Estudo para a Capa do Catálogo da Exposição de 1901 (1901)

Primavera (Spring) is another painting with an expressive face. Note that the face is darker than the rest of the body. Is the model blushing because she is shy? That would fit the expression on her face. It could also be that only her face is tanned because she is normally fully dressed when she is out in the sun. As in many Visconti paintings, the main figure is shown in greater detail than the background.

Eliseu Visconti – Primavera (circa1912)

Female Figure Study and Female Figures – Study for the Arcades are both drawings for the murals that Visconti would paint for the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro. The painting based on Female Figure Study was apparently destroyed when the arcades of the concert hall were renovated in 1934.

Eliseu Visconti – Female Figure Study (1913)

Eliseu Visconti – Female Figures – Study for the Arcades (1913)

Olhar de Menina (The Girl’s Look) is the only clothed portrait of a girl included in this article, but Visconti painted many such portraits of girls over his career. Olhar de Menina is one of Visconti’s later paintings. It was painted about 1935, and Visconti died in 1944.

Eliseu Visconti – Olhar de Menina (circa1935)

Update on Site Overhaul

(Last Updated On May 18, 2022)

First of all, I would like to thank all of you for your kind and supportive words. Even under this frequent barrage of attacks and complaints, I can reassure readers that I have no intent of shutting down the site. However, given Pigtails’ organic growth and the nature of the publicly-accessible internet, we need to step back and do some long-needed overhauls. We are also going to engage in some recruitment to get help running the site. (details to appear in the next ‘Maiden Voyages’)

Visceral Impact: One of our chief goals is to educate the general public about the legitimacy of the nude form, including those of children. The trouble is that no matter how rationally we attempt to proceed, one cannot overcome the visceral impact of seeing a nude child when one has been conditioned to be shocked by such images. This is a very primal response and no good is served by shoving such images down the throats of the unwilling public. Therefore, we are taking steps to protect those sensitive types from their own rabid response. Please understand that we are not conforming to some societal standard (just our own). We still maintain the ethical high ground and will not be restricting access to anyone who wants it, despite any misguided notions that some presumed class of innocents require protection. However, any person publicly viewing this site should be advised that we at Pigtails in Paint do not depict any kind of lascivious display of children nor any overtly sexual behavior by individuals, groups of children or between children and adults.

Internet Security: No man or woman is an island and neither is any website or online account. Because of the complexity of the World Wide Web, every site depends on the cooperation of many others to function smoothly and offer full access. It is impossible to just carry on obstinately and not have some kind of interference by a service provider, site host, data center, domain registrar, nation or other legal authority. It is clear that middle managers  who receive complaints and are tasked to judge the legitimacy of public content are not expert enough to make sober decisions in the face of public pressure. The imperative of corporate capitalism compounds this problem even further. Therefore, we are taking steps to be less publicly visible so that important content can continue to be preserved and accessible to those who want to see it.

Image Scrutiny: So far, we have gone through and made most posts private which can now only be seen by registered users. I am currently going through one post at a time and making them public again. For those posts that have controversial and triggering images, we are establishing a system that will make certain images private while making the post as a whole public allowing in-site and internet searches to work. The use of AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms has also forced us to use a special application that protects images from being scanned by external automated searches. We have had trouble in this regard from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and there will doubtless be others as the use of AI becomes ubiquitous.

Judging which images are “safe” will have to be somewhat subjective, of course, but I can share some guidelines to give you an idea. The following categories of images will be classified as private: 1) Practically all complete photographic nudes of children, 2) Partial nudes if they could be considered slightly erotic or have an attitude of intimate vulnerability (Taking this precaution will also tend to protect models from the stigma of public ridicule), and 3) Images in any medium that depict children in the context of an overt sexual metaphor or otherwise disturbingly transgressional.

Registered Users: There is no restriction to be a registered user (except those who are suspected of being trolls). Simply go to the ‘Contact Page’ and send me a message from the email you would like to be registered under. You will be sent a password and login instructions. Please understand that those instructions are confidential and should not be shared with anyone. If we have to alter the login procedure because of security leaks, it will inconvenience other users who would have to be informed and learn a new procedure. I have received a few requests already and starting today, will be going through and creating those user accounts.

Navigation: Until all posts are made public again, navigation will be difficult for all users because posts that are still private cannot be searched. I have made all ‘Maiden Voyages’ posts public so that readers can go to the “Month” index found on the right side and go to a particular time period. It will be necessary to click on the post title that appears so that the “next” and “previous” links (in green) will appear on the right side just under the banner. From there you can navigate forward or backward one post at a time. It is my intent that this process of updating the posts will be complete during the summer and will function normally after that point.

Special Bonuses: Many have suggested in the past that Pigtails offer special bonuses for premium users (and that could be a source of some revenue). I still resist that idea because it will create the assumption that we are hiding salacious materials because of our challenging subject matter. However, a few pages will be available to only registered users because they contain images that some might find shocking. A menu item will be created that will index those private pages so those who are registered will know what is available. However, all posts will eventually made public.

Agapeta: Fans of the Agapeta blog may already know that for some reason, the codes to that registered domain have still not been released. As a result, Agapeta is now operating with the domain agapeta.fr. It is still not clear why the codes for Pigtails were released but not those of Agapeta and Ovenden which most would agree are less controversial sites.

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux: Neapolitan Fisherboy and Girl with a Shell

(Last Updated On May 21, 2022)

Though it appears to go hand in hand with the original, Girl with a Shell was actually only carved several years later, and at that was merely a study piece.  Amazing, isn’t it?  What one artist considers a study, the rest of us consider a priceless masterpiece.  Despite the statue’s humble origin, it soon joined its older brother after also being acquired by the Empress, and the two would never part ways again as they made their journey, their synergistic nature apparent to all who laid eyes upon them.  She now stands with her sibling in the National Gallery of Art, quietly flanking one of the entrances into the central dome.

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux – Jeune Fille à la Coquille (Girl with a Shell) (1863-1867)

The statues are near life size and positively radiate with joy.  The children’s exuberant expressions combined with their playful poses make it no wonder why these two pieces  gained such popularity despite their modest size and subject matter.  The best ideas are often not the most grandiose but rather the most well executed, and here lies no better example.  From the fine ridges of the conch shells, to the subtle details of the muscles and bones, to the delicate motion of the children’s fingers, the two statues are almost magnetic in nature, and it was difficult to walk away once they had captured my attention.  The more one stares at them, the more details one notices.  Interestingly, we can see Carpeaux’s artistic improvements in the girl’s statue when compared to her older brother.  The shell which the girl holds is noticeably more detailed, her features are softer and more humanlike when compared to the boy’s smoother, slightly plastic appearance, and the choice to have the her sit on a woven basket overflowing with sardines is a significantly greater challenge than the simple sandy beach on which the boy kneels.

Despite today’s appreciation, Carpeaux’s artwork was surprisingly controversial for its time.  The Baroque movement took hold in the 17th century in Rome and was actually spurred on by the Catholic church as a more vibrant counter to the comparatively dull and rigid Protestant art.  Only around a century prior had Martin Luther nailed his pesky letter to the church door, so Catholicism was doing all it could to sway Christians back to their side.  To this end, the Baroque style employs exaggerated emotions and movements, and features heavy use of ornamentation in an attempt to bring viewers to their knees, figuratively and literally.  However, certain detractors found this tidal wave of detail and romanticism to be too garish and aggressive.  Carpeaux’s architectural decorations were sometimes even criticized for outshining the buildings which they adorned, which is arguably the most flattering critique one could receive.  Despite its objections, the Baroque movement would continue to become a staple of Catholic and even Protestant art, and would eventually evolve into the more lighthearted Rococo style.

Throughout his artistic career, Carpeaux always carried an entrepreneurial focus, and he would constantly do all he could to promote and sell his work.  This carried on even during his earliest studies at the Ecole, a practice which was strictly forbidden by the academy yet for some reason (or perhaps for obvious reasons) was never challenged.  He was noted for refusing to give up reproduction rights to his works, a risky move which eventually paid off as his popularity exploded and he established his own studio.  In fact, his constant exhibition and self marketing was actually seen as brash and aggressive among critics of his time, and this shameless promotion combined with his grip on the control of his work cemented his reputation as, as the NGA puts it, an “institutional bad boy”.  Despite this, Napoleon III himself would continue to be a recurring patron, and Carpeaux would eventually be given the Legion of Honour, France’s highest order of merit, in 1866.

Unfortunately, Carpeaux’s time as an artist was cut tragically short.  As mentioned earlier, he struggled with illness even prior to leaving for Rome.  Neapolitan Fisherboy debuted at the Salon in 1863, but by the fall of the Second Empire in 1870 he was struggling with cancer and had already begun to wind his career down, focusing primarily on finishing existing commissions and only taking on smaller projects.  The last two years of his life were spent traveling before finally passing in 1875 at the age of 48.  To this day, Neapolitan Fisherboy remains one of his most popular works, but it is only with the company of his younger sister that the two pieces shine brighter than either one of them could do alone.

Natalia Rak’s Big Paintings

(Last Updated On May 8, 2022)

Natalia Rak is a contemporary Polish painter, born in 1986, and studied art at University of Lodz. Rak is famous for her very big paintings on the exterior walls of buildings. Women and girls are common subjects of her paintings. In a 2016 interview for The Forest Magazine, Natalia Rak said, “I am a woman and I think I do understand women, even though we are complicated creatures. It is easier to portray affection through a subtle female body and face, than through a male … when I paint children there are no such issues when selecting gender.” Rak acknowledged in the same interview that there are difficulties, and even danger in painting high buildings, especially in bad weather. Nevertheless she seems to enjoy art, and is appreciative of the opportunities to travel that she gets because of her painting.

Natalia Rak – Legend of Giants (2013)

Legend of Giants, also known as Girl with a Watering Can, is Natalia Rak’s most famous painting. Rak said that Legend of Giants is “my dearest, and at the same time, most cursed work. … This mural has somehow confined me in specific areas, which I can not free myself from. Everyone would like to have a little girl on the wall, but I do not want to paint cute little children for the rest of my life.” Legend of Giants is on a building in Białysok, Poland. It shows a girl in traditional Polish dress apparently watering a tree growing in front of the building.

Anonymous – Natalia Rak at Work in Italy (2014)

Although Rak does not want to confine her art to depictions of cute girls, she acknowledges that paintings of girls are popular, and she has created several. All six of the murals featured in this post include girls.

Natalia Rak – Explore Nature (2014)

Explore Nature is a painting of a girl using a magnifying glass to observe a ladybug beetle. Rak painted it on a building in Terracina, Italy for the Festival Memorie Urbane in 2014.

Natalia Rak – Magic Book (2014)

Magic Book was painted in the same year, 2014, for the Art Scrape Festival in Malmo, Sweden. I was surprised to read that Rak took “several days” to paint Magic Book. Given the size of the painting, I would have thought that the painting would have taken weeks rather than days. A cherry picker was used to allow the artist to paint high on the building.

Natalia Rak – Love is in the Air (2015)

The next two paintings are both from the year 2015. Love is in the Air is in Duneden, New Zealand. It is the only Rak painting I have seen in which a word spoken by a character is painted. Adventure Time is in Providence, Rhode Island. It reminds me of Magic Book, in both paintings a girl in darkness opens something to discover a fantasy world.

Natalia Rak – Adventure Time (2015)

Countryside Girl is an ordinary girl with no element of fantasy, but like Rak’s other paintings, it demonstrates the artist’s wonderful ability to capture a facial expression. Countryside Girl is in Montreal, Quebec.

Natalia Rak -Countryside Girl (2016)

Natalia Rak’s web page is here, and her Behance page is here.

The Child Portraits of Laurie Wilson

(Last Updated On May 2, 2022)

Laurie Wilson is another one of the artists that has largely been forgotten and not much information exists either in books or on the internet. Child studies were only a small part of this artist’s collection, in fact these images may be the only ones on the internet. I still believe there are enough images to warrant inclusion on a website dedicated to the female child throughout art history. What made me write an article about this artist was when the following image disappeared off the Australian National Gallery website.

Laurie Wilson – No title (1977)

Taking into account the hysteria and irrational behavior surrounding child nudes many could guess why it disappeared. It appears similar in style to George Platt Lynes, so it may be inspired by that set of images or it could be coincidence. The following is a close up portrait of Gabby, implying that much like George’s set of images there should also be a set of Laurie’s images.

Laurie Wilson – Gabby (1977)

Lawrence “Laurie” Wilson was born on 17 August 1920 at Geelong West, Victoria, Australia, to parents George Alfred Wilson, laborer, and his wife Lilian May, née Oldaker. The artist had the most minimal of education, leaving Newtown State School at age 14, to help his father run the family farm.

The first sign that he had an interest in photography came in 1941 when he started work as an assistant at Lockwood’s Photographic Studio, this was probably the extent of his photographic training. The artist left after only ten months and started searching for a higher paying job, which he found at the Corio Theatre.

Laurie Wilson – The Imp (1968)

Wilson and his wife, Gwen, started their own studio in 1945, whilst supplementing their income through teaching ballroom dance. The secondary business was helpful in promoting the photographic studio as they would photograph their dancers at the end of each dance season. The main focus, and income, for the artist at this time was wedding and debutant photography. To a lesser extent there was also family, farm-based and small scale commercial photographic jobs, as well as making calendars for local customers and his own business.

Wilson had been physically frail all of his life, though it was a major operation and subsequent treatment for bowel cancer in 1963 that caused him to close his studio, sell his equipment and live off an invalid pension. As much as ninety-five percent of his archive from this early period is presumed lost. Unexpectedly, this decision resulted in what could possibly be a larger and more noticeable collection of work.

Laurie Wilson – Girl on a Sandy Beach (1975)

After regaining his strength and adjusting to his new disabilities he joined his local camera and photographic club. Being a part of this club increased his skill and knowledge of how to create interesting and memorable images. He remained within the club for the rest of his life. The first show to display his work was the small, yet still noticeable Castlemaine Camera Club in 1966. From this point onwards the shows he displayed at became more frequent and noticeable. From 1966 up to the start of 1974 his work had been exhibited at sixty-four different shows and competitions, from local all the way up to international level. During these eight years he was also awarded thirty seven trophies as well as a Associate membership in 1970, followed by a Fellowship in 1971 of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain. Due to the time that has elapsed and the lack of information available it is unlikely that anyone knows how this accomplishment was achieved.

Landscape photography constituted most of Wilsons output, to a lesser degree there was also documentary, still life, abstract and portrait photography. One of these portraits was considered so memorable and of such high quality, yet also charming and innocent that it deserved to be on the cover of an exhibition catalogue.

Laurie Wilson – Cover of Woman 1975

WOMAN 1975, was my introduction to the work created by this artist. It is part catalogue, part book and part historical record of an exhibition put together by the Young Women’s Christian Association of Australia to celebrate 1975, the International Year of the Woman. It was exceptionally rare for these images to appear within Australian publications, let alone on a cover. The untitled image outcompeted a thousand other images to become the cover photo and further enhanced the artist’s recognition.

There is no record of Wilson having a solo exhibition. He came close, when in 1975 a collection of his images was exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), in conjunction with John Cato’s photographic essays. Also in 1975 one of his images, from the Dog Rocks collection, was exhibited at the international exhibition, The Land, at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The image was the only Australian photograph selected. Additionally, in the same year, he received a grant from the Visual Arts Board of the Australian Council. No longer restrained by the need to save money for fuel and accommodation costs he spent most of the following year travelling around Victoria and greatly increased his landscape photography portfolio. A selection of this work was exhibited in the NGV along side John Rhodes’ Australia, in 1978.

Laurie Wilson – Rainy Day (1970’s)

By 1978 his health was deteriorating and he returned to focus on reworking old negatives, as well as photographing local landscapes. Laurie Wilson died from cancer in September of 1980. As he had no close descendants much of his archive and money was bequeathed to the NGV. The bequest allowed for the production of a book displaying his work. Published in 1982 and entitled Laurie Wilson, it largely focuses on his landscapes, however, contains none of his child portraits. His work is held in many other Australian and International institutions, however over time he has increasingly been forgotten.

There is very little information on the internet about the artist. Most of this article was compiled from the above mentioned book and also The Australian Dictionary of Biographies. More images may be added if they become available, hopefully the few that do exist do not completely disappear into the archives.

Maiden Voyages: May 2022

(Last Updated On April 30, 2022)

Things have been heating up on many fronts. The most important announcement is that in order to import the necessary subroutines to protect the site from the wrong kind of scrutiny, we will have to shut down in the next couple of days. Don’t worry, we are doing this ourselves and hopefully the hiatus will be a relatively short one (hopefully only a few hours). We have put this off for a few days to give readers some notice so I won’t be inundated with emails asking what is happening.

Future Outages: Whether we are making voluntary revisions to the site that will require us to go offline or we have another carrier, data center or registrar who perfunctorily shuts us down again, remember that I will communicate to readers through our Facebook page. You can also take note of my Pigtails email and contact me directly.

Allied Websites: Because Pigtails shared an account with Agapeta and the Graham Ovenden sites, they were affected by the protests against our site. Clearly, these sites are much less edgy than we are and it is unfortunate they were affected. From now on, our host has promised to run the sites on separate accounts so that they don’t suffer these collateral effects. For some reason, the old registrar released the Pigtails domain access codes but not the correct ones for the other sites. Therefore Agapeta is not up and running yet and Graham’s sites (Personal and Garage Press) are operating under different domain names. Christian is protesting the delay in transfer. No word yet if this is some kind of deliberate act or an honest mistake.

Registered Accounts: As mentioned in my recent ‘State of the Blog Address’, we will be instituting a registration process for readers who want to see all the images of this site. Applicants will be screened by myself before being added as a user. Initially, we are taking the precaution of protecting images that are not publicly available so that automatic systems will not come across them and they can’t be reported to the internet hierarchy. We can no longer trust technicians and managers of internet providers to make educated decisions about acceptable forms of nudity. This is one of the reasons for the short downtime mentioned above.

Poignant Performance: The Russian invasion of Ukraine is regarded by most as a travesty, making many citizens pawns in a political struggle and causing yet another immigration crisis. Yet in the midst of this sublime chaos, there are rays of sunshine. I will let you take a look at this video yourself. The same reader also offered this charming (albeit less poignant) video of a little girl singing as well.

Presidential Pets: As I have mentioned before, I have been binging a lot of podcasts which are peppered with a multitude of interesting tidbits. For instance, Theodore Roosevelt was not the kind of president who was happy sitting behind a desk and during one of his excursions to the west (Arizona in this case), he was presented with a pet badger from a little girl. I tried to look it up but although I did find some information about the animal, I could find no mention on the girl who offered the gift nor a publicity photo during the offering.

First Black Millionairess? Conventional wisdom is that a woman named Sarah Breedlove Walker was the first Black woman millionaire. But a young girl may have beaten her: Sarah Rector. She inherited the fortune while still a little girl and required some involvement of advocacy organizations to keep her from getting taken advantage of. This item appears in an episode of Stuff You Missed in History Class.

 

State of the Blog Address: Spring 2022

(Last Updated On April 29, 2022)

Dear Valued Pigtails Readers,

When Pip and I met, we quickly learned that we were of one mind about how to handle the sensitive subject of what I now call, “The Cult of the Girl Child”. The intent was never to have a long-term site but we both began to realize it filled a need in public education. Every time some crisis shut us down, our consolation was that we already accomplished a lot given the political and moral climate of the time. If something like this were to continue to operate, our motivations had to be above reproach but not appear to censor in the conventional sense just to “fit in”. When Pip needed to move on to pursue other interests, it was easy for him to pass the reins to me. Although I am pleased with the contacts that I have nurtured, I had not found someone who fully understood the long-term vision of this site and could be trusted to run it in its entirety.

I am by nature a Renaissance Man and so my interests inevitably pulled me away from the girl child and the peripheral and frank subject of child sexuality. The reason I stayed with it for so long is that I felt a strong moral obligation to keep things going as a resource. That is why, even though I have not personally been very active lately, I kept it as a platform for commentary and contributions of others who had knowledge of the subject.

This latest interruption was pretty much caused the same way as the rest: zealous opponents putting pressure on our internet service chain until it was not worth the trouble to keep us as a customer. Predictably, the excuse was that our site hosted child pornography even though several organizations tasked with monitoring issues of child welfare have found nothing to take action on (apart from C3P’s recent efforts which were simply reports generated by a poorly-designed AI visual subroutine). These are unmitigated acts of cowardice and at no time did we receive direct warning from law enforcement or a court order that we had better desist (sometimes there were complaints about a specific item). Our attackers know they have a weak case legally and so have had to resort to these back alley tactics.

I have hung on this long because I feel it would be wrong to give in to the ignorance of moral panic and the subject of the girl child legitimately needs some debate and academic study beyond the mere appreciation of physical beauty. I have thought long about many aspects of the this subject and realize there has been only the most superficial coverage of this subject so far. It is one entangled not only in human nature, but the ways technologies have distorted a healthy balance including instant communication, digital photography, the law and the nature of civilization itself.

However, I would be remiss not to pursue some of my latest interests. I am a human being and have to do work I find fulfilling. There really won’t be that much of a change from my recent activity but I have decided to post an abridged version of the site to minimize the amount of fodder that can be used against us and to plan a more secure way to keep the site up and running. I am proud that Pigtails in Paint has operated for over 10 years with a few interruptions here or there and it is important that we maintain a presence on the internet until such point as the general public acknowledge us as a respected permanent fixture on the web.

My idea—and that may change at any time—is to maintain an summary version of the site for a while. The latest three months of posts will be publicly available as well as any important cross-reference libraries. Posts that are no longer visible will be indexed in the ‘Artists by Name’ and ‘Thematic Posts’ pages. I will try to accomplish this during the coming summer when I have more time on my hands. After discussing it with technical support, I realize we can implement a suggestion made by others in the past. Some of you may want to be registered viewers and can be given access to the entire site on a case by case basis. The only inconvenience is that you would have to sign in but you could still maintain your anonymity. All decisions about who gets access will be made by me, the Editor-in-Chief. We have nothing really to hide, but we are going to try this to see if we still get the same amount of heat about our site with this smaller public profile. It is hoped that we can relaunch the full site when we are confident that our continued operation cannot be interfered with by vigilantes. Since Pigtails has been the main focus of attackers, it has lamentably caused disruptions on Agapeta, the Graham Ovenden and Garage Press sites. We will also continue to work on getting the Sam Gates website re-established and, if at all possible, the launch of the Novel Activist website as an archive. Pigtails will keep its domain name and we are contemplating the idea of a backup domain so readers will know where to go if we are interfered with again.

The contact form and Pigtails email will also be maintained so readers can always contact me and lend their support, ideas, submit articles and the like. In the mean time, we will be researching ways to maintain our own servers and access to the internet that is not controlled by private companies who can shut us down on a whim. We are also seeking academic institutions who would be interested in preserving an archive on the subject so that key materials might be available to future researchers and not interfered with by short-sighted legal authorities.

Speer’s Khoikhoi Girls

(Last Updated On May 24, 2022)

Speer – Young Hottentot Girls (circa1910)

This photo appears in at least two early 20th century books: Das Weib bei den Naturvolkern : eine Kulturgeschichte der Primitiven Frau by Ferdinand Freiherr von Reitzenstein (c1928), and Woman : an Historical, Gynæcological and Anthropological Compendium by Hermann Heinrich Ploss, Maximilian Bartels,Paul Bartels, and Eric John Dingwall (1935). The second book, by Ploss et al, is based on Das Weib in der Natur- und Völkerkunde : Anthropologische Studien by Dr. H. Ploss (1885), but the photo of the Khoikhoi girls is not in the 1885 book. It should be noted that for all of these books, not all editions have the same photographs.

The first book is in German, and the second is in English. Captions in both German and English identify the girls as “Hottentots”. In researching the background of this photo I read that many today consider the term Hottentot to be derogatory, and prefer the term Khoikhoi. Therefore I used Khoikhoi in the title of this article, but for the sake of historical accuracy I have retained Hottentot in the caption. In America the Khoikhoi would be considered Black, but they are racially distinct from other Black people in Africa.

Ploss et al and the Baron von Reitzenstein both attribute the photograph to Speer. Neither book contains any more information about Speer. Ploss has another photograph from Speer, of the girl on the left in the photo in this article. In that photo the girl is posed to focus attention on her genitals, and I did not think that photo would be acceptable for Pigtails. I do not know if Speer took any more photos in addition to those two. The photos may be from a book by Emil Speer, Zur Erinnerung an meine Dienstzeit beim Pferdedepot Sud S.W. Afrika Weihnachten 1911. Apparently Emil Speer was in the military in what was then German Southwest Africa and could be the Speer who took this photograph. I have not seen the book, so I do not know if it truly is the source of the photos. The homeland of the Khoikhoi includes Namibia, formerly German Southwest Africa.

The photo may be considered an anthropological contrivance, but it is definitely posed for an aesthetic purpose. From what I have seen of books from the early 20th century, nude photographs were more respectable then, and may not have needed a contrivance.

Drawings by Luc-Olivier Merson

(Last Updated On April 26, 2022)

Nicolas Luc-Olivier Merson was born in Paris in 1846. His father was a painter, and Luc-Olivier followed his father in becoming an artist. He studied in France and Italy, and was awarded several honors and commissions. He was a leading painter of the Classicism school, adhering to traditional styles. Merson’s designs for currency and postage stamps were accepted by the French government. Merson was awarded the Legion of Honor for his contributions to French art.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Étude de Figures (undated)

Most of the figures in Merson’s paintings are adults. Male children are often portrayed as cherubs, but they are painted with a very effeminate appearence. The first of Merson’s work shown in this post does not have any girls in it, but I hope Ron will allow it because it is an example of how Merson made illustrations of boys that look like girls. In many of his paintings, the cherub’s sex is concealed by the pose or drapery. In this illustration the male genitals are visible, but are small and seem to have been added as an afterthought.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Fillette Nue (undated)

I am reminded of a post in Pigtails here, about Eugene Delacroix. Delacroix used a female model for the infant Jesus, and Pip wrote, “There is also an argument to be made that he may have chosen a female purposely, since feminine children were already perceived as prettier and more graceful than masculine children by then…” In addition to Delacroix, the painter Eliseu Visconti and the sculptor Abastenia St. Leger Eberle used a female models to portray boys. I have a feeling that Merson may have also used female children as his models, even if they were portraying males.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Head of Boy Singing (undated)

The following two drawings are from different places on the internet. Fillette Nue (Naked Girl) is the title of the first. The second was titled in English Head of Boy Singing. It looks like the same model was used for both drawings. Was the model a boy or a girl?

Luc-Olivier Merson – Etude de Fillette Nue (undated)

Etude de Fillette Nue appears to be the same model as Fillette Nue and Head of Boy Singing. In this case, there is no doubt that the model was a girl. Note the similarity in the musculature of the legs and hair style. Note also a faint sketch of wings behind the figure. Apparently this figure was intended to be painted as a cherub. Since Merson tended to strictly follow classical conventions, his cherubs were male, even though the model may have been a girl.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Etude de Fillette (undated)

Opéra-Comique is a prestigious Paris opera company. Luc-Olivier Merson apparently created an artwork for Opéra-Comique, but I was only able to find this drawing that seems to be a preliminary sketch. Merson made many drawings (but not paintings) of children, including boys, girls, and those whose sex was indeterminate. Strangely, I was not able to find a painting (as opposed to a drawing) of a child that was definitely intended to be a girl.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Etude Pour L’Opera Comique (undated)

Young Girl is a drawing, but it is not strictly monochrome; it was drawn with red chalk and black pencil.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Fillette Nue Debout de Trois-Quarts à Droite (undated)

Le Pas De Danse (The Dance Step) and Young Naked Girl illustrate the graceful sense of movement that typifies Merson’s art. Étude de Face de Fillette Nue Debout and Young Naked Girl both appear to be holding something, but it is not clear what it is.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Young girl (undated)

Luc-Olivier Merson – Le Pas De Danse (undated)

Luc-Olivier Merson – Young Naked Girl (undated)

Luc-Olivier Merson – Étude de Face de Fillette Nue Debout (undated)

Nancy Coonsman Hahn and Mrs. Kincaid’s Fountain

(Last Updated On April 26, 2022)

Nancy Coonsman was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1887. She studied art at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and finally as a student of Abastenia St. Leger Eberle in New York. When she married Emanual Hahn in 1918, she was one of the most celebrated sculptors in America. Her most prestigious works are the World War I memorials in Cheppy-Varennes-en-Argonne, France (1922) and Veterans Park in Memphis, Tennessee (1926).

Nancy Coonsman – Girls with Frogs (1915)

Earlier in her career she created some beautiful but less famous works, including a couple of fountains. She designed a fountain with cherubs for the Mullanphy Floral Shop in St. Louis, and another for Randolph Laughlin’s new home, “Lachlin,” (built 1907–1912). A little girl from St. Louis was the model for Randolph Laughlin’s fountain. I have not been able to find an image of either of these fountains.

Nancy Coonsman Hahn’s best-known fountain is the Margaret R. Kincaid Fountain in St. Louis, Missouri, dedicated in 1915. Margaret R. Kincaid made a bequest to the City of St. Louis to build a fountain in a public park in the city. Mrs. Kincaid stipulated that the artist designing the fountain must be a woman. A competition was held, and Nancy Coonsman won. Ms. Coonsman proposed the design shown in the first illustration. The two girls would have been surrounded by frogs, and water would have been sprayed from the frogs onto the girls. Wikipedia gives the date of Frogs and Girls as 1897. Apparently this date is given because the picture is from International Studio Magazine, which says on the cover that it was entered as second class matter with the post office in 1897. Nancy Coonsman was ten years old in 1897; the edition of International Studio Magazine with the photo is from about 1919.

Nancy Coonsman – Margaret R. Kincaid Fountain (1915)

Surprisingly, the proposed design resulted in considerable outrage. The Women’s Protective League and the local newspaper protested. The Union Trust Company, custodian of the bequest, rejected the design. The nudity was not acceptable. Coonsman was irritated at having to make a new design for the fountain. I would have thought that after the uproar over her original design, the new fountain would be designed without nudity. Coonsman felt otherwise, and submitted the design shown in the second photo, with naked children dancing around the fountain. Perhaps because the children were younger, perhaps because they were in bas-relief, or maybe for another reason, the second design was approved.

The city and the Union Trust Company should have expected nudity; why were they shocked by the first design? I don’t know if there were any nude figures in the other two Coonsman fountains in the St. Louis area, but one featured cherubs, who are conventionally portrayed nude. Other great sculptors of the time were creating fountains with nude young girls, including Water Lily (c1913) by Bessie Potter Vonnoh, Seaweed Fountain (1914) by Janet Scudder, and At Water’s Edge (1914) by Edward Berge. It seems that people sponsoring a competition for sculptors should be familiar with what sculptors are doing.

What if these people with the task of approving the design were not familiar with the world of art? This contest happened in 1915, the year of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which made nude sculptures familiar to everyone who read the newspaper. Many of the Panama-Pacific statues (three-fifths according to the Richmond [Virginia] Times-Dispatch) were modeled by America’s first supermodel, Audrey Munson. In addition to being an artist’s model in real life, she played the part of an sculptor’s model in the movie Inspiration, which was one of two movies with nudity released in 1915. No copy of the movie is known to exist today, but we know from reviews that there were explicit nude scenes in Inspiration. Local news around the nation reported the controversy about whether the movie should be shown in their city, and which if any scenes should be cut. Even somebody who followed only the local news in 1915 should have been well aware that sculptors used nude models. My reason for mentioning these things is to show that everybody should have expected nudity in the fountain design in 1915. If they didn’t want it, they should have told Nancy Coonsman up front instead of making her redesign it.

Note the concrete bench in the background of the approved fountain, The bench, with the little elves sitting beneath it, was also designed by Coonsman.