Lladró, Part 1: Fantastic Creatures

Looking through any book or catalog of Lladró figurines is an overwhelming experience, but as this was my first love, I felt it important to show the few lovelies that grace my display shelf.

I served in the U.S. Army in the late 1980s and was stationed in what was then West Germany. Of course, there were a lot of wonderful collectibles right there in German shops, but soldiers could see many of the more popular ones in shops on military bases as well. The first of these shops I ever walked into had quite a few figurines. Suddenly, I looked down into one of the cases and saw this centaur girl:

Lladró – #5320 Demure Centaur Girl (1985) (overhead)

I stared at this beautiful thing for a long time, but not long enough for anyone to notice. Every time I was at that base, I’d make a point to go in and look at her again. I could afford to buy it if I wanted, but I felt weird about it. I lived in barracks with a bunch of young macho guys and so I wouldn’t have the guts to display it anyway. In such small quarters, it could easily get broken and a single soldier’s lifestyle made such pleasures impractical. I never forgot about it and wondered why this figure should have this kind of affect on me.

Years later, when I got used to navigating the web, I decided to search “centaur girl” and a tingle went up my spine when one of the images was of that very same figurine. I then learned that it was a Lladró called Demure Centaur Girl and had a similar companion piece Wistful Centaur Girl (#5319) which I remember being displayed in the case as well.

Lladró – #5320 Demure Centaur Girl (1985)

In a little while, I found one for sale and purchased it. I remember waiting what seemed like forever for it to arrive. It was the busy time for postal service and I did not receive it until after the New Year. I had heard of and seen other Lladrós before but was never that impressed so it was a revelation that some of their work could be like this. I decided to see if they made anything else that might appeal to me or if this was just a fluke of aesthetics. Lo and behold, there was an even older centaur girl called appropriately enough, Centaur Girl.

Lladró – #1012 Centaur Girl (1969)

Being an older piece, it did not have the delicate ornamentation seen on later Lladrós, but the delicacy and attitude of the figure struck me even more than the first one. I have studied it many times since and discovered how it achieves its dynamic charm. The girl and front legs of the filly are sweet and proper and serene while the hind quarters give the impression of excitement. The hind legs are in a tense open posture as though ready to spring and the tail is curled like a whip suggesting a frisky demeanor. This piece has its complement as well: Centaur Boy (#1013). I still find it odd that the centaur form is so appealing to many; it seems so front-heavy, but somehow talented artists manage to pull it off.

It turns out that Lladró produced a lot of fantasy pieces over the years, far too many to ever discuss adequately in this blog (stay tuned for Lladró, Part 99!), but I was sufficiently charmed by two of the three Butterfly Girl figurines to purchase them. The third one (#1402) has a distracting feathered hairstyle that gives it an unfortunate dated appearance. I was surprised to discover that the latter centaur girls and butterfly girls were all designed by José Puche but given their similar aesthetic sensibility, it makes perfect sense now.

Lladró – #1401 Butterfly Girl (1982)

Lladró – #1403 Butterfly Girl (1982)

As I share more of my collection, I will also reveal some of the remarkable things that gives Lladró that instantly recognizable style.

Lladró Porcelain (official site)

What’s in a Name? Charles Dodgson

When I first made this post, I had only begun my foray into the scholarship of Lewis Carroll.  I simply wanted readers to realize that even a personality as noted as Carroll engaged in some nude photography of little girls.  I did not realize that some of my sources—most especially Cohen—would be regarded as manipulated and biased.  I may not have the time in the foreseeable future to update this post and remedy things so I strongly suggest after looking at this post, you read the scholarly comment offered by one of our readers and my reply to get a more balanced perspective.  

Also, I have been informed that images of the original photograph used to produce the third image below appeared in Anne Higonnet’s Pictures of Innocence: The History of and Crisis of Ideal Childhood (1998).  I think it is worth a look.  -Ron

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) is better known to most people as Lewis Carroll, the creator of the Alice stories and the inspiration for a plethora of imagery and stories ever since. What is less well-known was his affinity for the company of children and his mastery in photographing them.

He received his first camera in 1856 and in short order, demonstrated his skill with the technology culminating in a public exhibition with the Photographic Society of London in 1858. This is even more impressive given the messy wet collodion process that was common at the time. He did shoot a number of portraits and adult groups which would have been sufficient to secure his place in history never mind his work with children.

When I was invited to co-host this blog, I knew it was important that this be my first post containing images. Not only is this artist historically important, but after I read Lewis Carroll, Photographer of Children: Four Nude Studies and Lewis Carroll: A Biography both written by Morton N. Cohen, I was shocked by the almost identical intellectual, social and aesthetic sensibility we both had. Perhaps some may find it presumptuous, but I feel especially qualified to discuss Dodgson’s motivations and attitudes. The reader will notice I express a greater certitude and less objective detachment than when I discuss any other artist or work.

Although he may have subconsciously registered the natural beauty of children early on, particularly the prettiness of girls, he was first drawn to children because of their minds. They express an exuberant freedom and an openness that Rousseau would have termed their “natural animal spirits”. Even a 6 to 8-year-old girl can have a surprisingly well-developed intellect, facility with language and social skill to make them charming enough companions. Dodgson took the time to lavish attention on his child friends in the form of elaborate tea parties and other diversions. So, it is natural that he should want to preserve forever their images and in the course of that endeavor, begin to consciously notice their physical beauty as well.

Dodgson kept extensive diaries during his life and the first mention of shooting a subject nude was in 1867. His sensitivity about the comfort level of the parents and children is quite touching and his obsession with only shooting girls with “good figures” clearly demonstrate that his work in this area was legitimately aesthetic. His best work were tableaux with staged backgrounds, costumes and situations to build up a scene with the child(ren) center stage. Many good examples can be found online and here in this blog.

Dodgson was quite conflicted about his pursuits: between his desire to produce compelling images for his own enjoyment, concern about how others might regard his unorthodox work and possible ridicule his friends might receive once they grew up. Sound familiar? It is hard to speculate on how many nudes were originally produced, but only 4 are known to survive today. All sitters were children of people he knew personally very well and many plates were sent out to be colorized which is also quite telling. Ben Maddox called these images saccharine, but this perfunctory assessment was unfair given the almost obsessive labor of love these images must have entailed. Dodgson pulled out all the stops in his attempt to enhance the natural beauty of each image. It seems from his diaries that he intended to continue his photography after this prolific burst but he simply could not manage the time to learn the newest techniques after that.

Dodgson secured a mathematical lectureship at Oxford, specializing in logic. The position required that he pursue his religious education as well and eventually he became a deacon of the Church. He must have realized he could not get far because of his stammer but he managed as a kind of substitute minister when needed. Henry Liddell, who became a Dean at Oxford, became Dodgson’s boss and brought with him a young family. Early on, he befriended the oldest girls: Lorina, Alice and Edith. His bond with Alice was especially strong and he would entertain the girls with his vivid nonsensical stories during their outings together and the girls were incorporated as characters in his stories. He finally wrote down some of the stories and bound them as a gift for Alice. Encouragement from friends then compelled him to have them published. The use of the pen name Lewis Carroll was an attempt to keep his popular writings from interfering with his private life. Also contrary to speculation, Dodgson’s fantasies were not hallucination-induced rantings, but creative musings about the bizarre discoveries being made in the mathematics of the period.


Charles Dodgson – Beatrice Seated Before the White Cliffs

Charles Dodgson – Evelyn Hatch (c 1879) (1)

Charles Dodgson – Evelyn Hatch (c 1879) (1)

Charles Dodgson – Evelyn Hatch (c 1879) (2)

Charles Dodgson – Evelyn Hatch (c 1879) (2)

Charles Dodgson – Annie and Frances Henderson (c 1879)

Charles Dodgson – Annie and Frances Henderson (c 1879)

Wikipedia: Lewis Carroll

Follow Your Bliss

This was the great advice Joseph Campbell gave his students. Perhaps more than any other scholar, Campbell got to the source of how myth informs each of our lives when it is functioning properly. He believed that to express our full humanity, we should take time every day to get in touch with our core being. Forget your daily worries and what you owe others and what others owe you. No matter how strange or how others might ridicule you, engage in that thing that you really love. That thing that you love, that makes life worth living is your bliss. Well, as seemingly ridiculous as it my be, my bliss is this: I am in a kind of awe at the perfection manifest in the girl child’s physical and spiritual form. If you frequent this blog, chances are this is your bliss as well.

My name is Ron and perhaps you have seen some of my comments here before. Pip has graciously invited me to contribute my voice to this site. Pip and I respect and recognize the talent and knowledge of the other and we hope this synergy will enrich your experience.

Like Pip, I have similar tastes and we both like doing research and sharing our discoveries with others. Also, it is in my nature to be a teacher and as in savoring a good meal, knowing something more about particular images or artists gives it a greater depth enhancing the enjoyment.

It is no small matter that so many people find these pursuits appealing and as such are a deeply human endeavor. Therefore, I can say wholeheartedly to everyone reading this, “Follow your bliss!”


Well, this is some truly exciting news!  I would like to welcome Ron to the editing team of Pigtails in Paint (I use the word ‘team’ lightly, as at this point it is only he and I).  Ron has been offering his insights/comments as replies for awhile,  and we have been corresponding quite heavily over the last couple of weeks, enough for me to get a good impression of his personality, interests, etc., and I trust that he will make an excellent addition to the blog.  Anyway, he will be making an introductory post later today, so keep an eye out for that, PiPsters.

Eugene Vardanyan

Eugene Vardanyan (aka Leda) is a Russian photographer, primarily of erotic portraits of women, but he occasionally photographs children too.  These shots are highly reminiscent of the work of Jan Saudek, and as with several of Saudek’s images of children, the adult erotic cues given to these little girls are intended to be ironic and slightly surreal.


Eugene Vardanyan – Aleksandra, 6 Years Old (2003)

Eugene Vardanyan – Сказка про Крас (2003)

Eugene Vardanyan – Сказка про Крас (2003)

Eugene Vardanyan – Сказка про Мами (2003)

Eugene Vardanyan – Сказка про Мами (2003)

Eugene Vardanyan – (Title Unknown) (2003)

Eugene Vardanyan – (Title Unknown) (2003)

Eugene Vardanyan – Fairy Tale (2003)

Eugene Vardanyan – Fairy Tale (2003)

Eugene Verdanyan – Hunger (2003)

Eugene Verdanyan – Hunger (2003)

Photodom.com: Eugene Vardanyan


From Ron on July 28, 2012

The first name that comes to my mind is Irina Ionesco with theatrical and dark erotic costumes and backgrounds. The attitude here is slightly more cheery, however.

From pipstarr72 on July 28, 2012

Ha! Cheery isn’t the word I would’ve used, though I don’t think the mood is depressing. I think here the poses are less forced than with Ionesco, and there’s a sense that the girl is just playing around for a bit, whereas with Ionesco’s photos you get the sense that Eva was pressured to pose constantly and quite bored with it all, not to mention the feeling, however intangible, that the girl’s mother is overbearing. Of course, I must admit that those feelings are quite possibly ex post facto on learning of Eva’s adult feelings toward her mother and the photographs she participated in.

Marvin Newman

Let’s do some photography today, shall we?  I don’t know the title of this photo, if it even has one, but it was taken by Marvin Newman.  The scene is of adults washing children and readying them for bed at a kibbutz.  I scanned this from one of the books in a Time-Life series called Human Behavior.  I found several of the books at a yard sale years ago and picked them up for a dollar a piece, if I remember correctly.  It’s an old series with some outdated information, but it was certainly worth a buck a piece just for the photographs alone.


Marvin Newman – (Title Unknown)

Wikipedia: Marvin E. Newman


From Ron on July 26, 2012
I know this point has been made in many other places, but isn’t it funny how nudity is acceptable when it is in the name of anthropology? The insidious implication being that such people are a lower form of human and are not entitled to the same respect and dignity as “civilized” people.

From pipstarr72 on July 26, 2012
Yeah, and this is how Victorian photographers frequently got around the censors–they focused their cameras on indigenous peoples and cultures that recalled the classical era, classical art being very popular in their time.