One thing I’ve discovered in my quest for girl art is that there’s about a gazillion paintings of little girls in a field picking flowers. There are so many it actually borders on being nauseating. But some are certainly better than others. What I like about this particular one is how this curly-headed moppet has one sock off and one on. It’s endearing and adds a little extra oomph that makes the painting stand out from the crowd.
From Reverend Benjamin M. Root IV on May 26, 2012
The one-sock thing is definitely the clincher here. Naughtiness and/or naivety, either way, shakes up the pristine idealism of Victorian childhood. It makes her alive, real.
I think that’s also why Bouguereau’s girls so often had bare feet. Sure, they may have been peasants who didn’t even own shoes, but I bet for the artist, it was about grounding them (pun definitely intended), making them real, flesh, earthly angels, not cherubs (what’s your term?).
In a genre where sexuality is still nonexistent for the subject/model (and taboo for the artist), a bare foot is a touch of the carnal. And not in any creepy euphemism way, but actual pure youthful aliveness.