When ‘Pigtails in Paint’ Is Under Attack, the Entire History of Art Is Under Attack

(Last Updated On May 31, 2022)

Once again a small faction of loudmouths who are entirely ignorant of art’s long tradition of child nudity are on the hunt, trying to take down this site. When I founded this blog years ago the nude stuff was only one small part of what Pigtails was about. I confess that the attacks and critiques over the years concerning the nudes have ironically only made me post more of it (and focus on it in my own illustration) just to get the goats of those good ol’ boy ignoramuses and fascistically-inclined keyboard warriors who have no understanding of the value of this work or its longstanding and hard-won legal protections. Admittedly that’s not a very good reason to do it, but nor does it invalidate the point of this work. These people apparently cannot look at a nude image of a child without seeing sexual intent behind it. Yes, it is they who are the perverts, these self-glorified hall monitors who seek to remove all challenges to their own sexual discomfort at the mere sight of a nude child, to eliminate all nude child art on the web so it doesn’t serve as a constant reminder that they are so sexually insecure that they cannot look upon a nude child without feeling a tinge of shameful lust.

Thus, they project their feelings onto us and call us the sick ones. Never mind that seeing this stuff constantly has a tendency to remove its mystique and thus diffuse the verboten appeal that is artificially invested in it. Never mind the fact that damn near every major artist from antiquity to the mid-twentieth century created at least one piece devoted to the nude child’s form. Van Gogh, Dalí, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Rembrandt, Picasso, da Vinci, Whistler—in other words, the handful of artists that even most non-art aficionados can name—have all tackled the subject.

Vincent van Gogh – Seated Girl (ca. 1886)

Vincent van Gogh – Seated Girl Seen from the Front (ca. 1886)

Vincent van Gogh – Nude Study of Little Seated Girl

Salvador Dalí – Dalí at the Age of Six When He Thought He Was a Girl Lifting the Skin of the Water to See the Dog Sleeping in the Shade of the Sea (1950)

Michelangelo Buonarotti – Tondo Taddei (1503-04)

Michelangelo was even one of the first artists to depict female putti as well as male:

Michelangelo Buonarroti – Putti

Donatello’s David is one of the youngest versions of the biblical hero ever depicted—the boy appears to be somewhere between thirteen to fifteen years of age.

Donatello – David (ca. 1440-1460)(1)

Donatello – David (ca. 1440-1460)(2)

Putti were common in all of the Renaissance artists’ work, including Raphael’s. The Christ child was also commonly depicted in the nude.

Raphael – Madonna di Foligno (1511)

Raphael – La belle jardinière (1507)

Rembrandt – Child in a Tantrum (1635)

Ganymede has popped up frequently on our blog lately. Remember that Zeus abducted Ganymede because of his beauty and made the boy one of his lovers as well as official cup bearer of Olympus. Keep that in mind when viewing this next piece.

Rembrandt – The Abduction of Ganymede (1635)

Pablo Picasso – The Two Brothers

Pablo Picasso – Young Girl with a Goat (1906)

Pablo Picasso – Massacre in Korea (1951)

Leonardo da Vinci – Study of a Child (1508)

Leonardo da Vinci – The Holy Infants Embracing (1486)

James McNeill Whistler – Nude Girl

Nor was their any particular political slant that favored this sort of work. Everyone from far left Soviet artists like Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin and Alexander Deineka to far right artists like Francoist painter and illustrator Carlos Sáenz de Tejada and German artists Anselm Feuerbach, Gisbert Palmié, Hans Thoma, Adolf Ziegler and Karl Albiker (all of them official artists of the Third Reich), and everyone in between, created work featuring nude children.

Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin – Morning, Bathers (1917)

Alexander Deineka – Children of Leisure (1933)

Carlos Sáenz de Tejada – Girl from Back, Lusita (1917)

Carlos Sáenz de Tejada – Nude Girl

Anselm Feuerbach – Badende Kinder (1864)

Anselm Feuerbach – Children on the Beach

Gisbert Palmié – Rewards of Work (1933)

Hans Thoma – Flora

Hans Thoma – April

Adolf Ziegler – Goddess of Art

Karl Albiker – Tanzerin (Giulietta)(1)

Karl Albiker – Tanzerin (Giulietta)(2)

Of course, some of the most popular artists of all time also created child nudes. French Academic painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau, one of the few Victorian artists to get rich from his work within his lifetime, practically specialized in them.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Love Disarmed (1885)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Amour a l’affut (Love on the Look Out) (1890)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – L’Amour Vainqueur (1886)

One of the most reproduced images of the modern age is this portrait of Cupid and Psyche as children. I’ve seen it featured on everything from dishes and t-shirts to puzzles and handbags.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – L’Amour et Psyche, enfants (The First Kiss) (1890)

In fact, the image which holds the record for being the most reproduced image in history, and the focus of the very first post I ever made at Pigtails in Paint, is this painting by Maxfield Parrish in which one of the models was his then 10-year-old daughter, Jean.  Incidentally, the other model in this image (or at least her face) was the granddaughter of famous Nebraskan Democrat William Jennings Bryan. During Bryan’s time the Democrats were the states’ rights party—basically what the Republicans are now—and the Republicans were the federalist party. Their positions would eventually become reversed in the Civil Rights era.

Maxfield Parrish – Daybreak (1922)

Maxfield Parrish – Daybreak (1922) (detail)

This blog is, if nothing else, a testament to precisely how deep and wide this tradition has been. And that presents a problem to certain parties who would like to keep the masses ignorant of this fact. Hence, the very reason why Pigtails’ existence is so vital. Now, we could stick to the more politically safe works here, but we occasionally flirt with those pieces that are a little dangerous. It’s important to recognize that even dangerous art has validity and value. As Ron pointed out, we were never so naive as to believe that this work would not be challenged. But it is sniveling and cowardly for Shadow Nazis to try to stamp us out by anonymously bullying our providers. We’ve been on the web for years, no doubt closely observed by the authorities. Everything we post is legally vetted and protected art. We have never operated in the shadows and many of the artists we’ve featured are friends of the site—that should demonstrate that we have no ill intentions and nothing to hide. There is not, and never has been, anything untoward going on either in front of or behind the scenes, and I would proudly defend each and every artist and ever piece of art that we’ve shared on this site in a court of law.

The people who are attacking us know this very well. They know that attempting to go through the legal channels would get them nowhere because there is nothing illegal in what we are doing, and the First Amendment, as has been demonstrated in case after case, is on our side. Our attackers thus have no recourse but to make false insinuations about our intent (which, of course, is libel—if they weren’t hiding like the cowards they are they would be open to lawsuits for defamation of character) and to lie to and bully our providers, to scare them into believing things that are not true. The law is on our side and they know it. Our blog would never had lasted as long as it has if that weren’t the case. But these insecure, ignorant fools, most of whom no doubt wouldn’t know their Picasso from a hole in the ground, have taken it upon themselves to equate our well-researched and well-respected site with purveyors of child porn. It’s tragic enough that they can’t recognize legitimate art when they see it, but to label it child porn reveals the utmost disrespect and contempt for the long line of great artists from antiquity to present who have created this fantastic art, as well as everyone who has ever enjoyed it, who have now been reduced to little more than leering and drooling Humbert Humberts for ever getting any pleasure or amusement, no matter how innocent, from the sight of a nude child.

Time and again it has been proven that these sorts of people, the majority of whom are borderline illiterate if we’re being honest, have little understanding of the psychological appeal of the naked youth beyond their own vulgar and limited imaginations. Because of their junior high-level of sexual maturity, they cannot fathom that nudity does not always equate to sex, particularly with respect to children. But even when there is some level of the erotic explored in the underage form, it does not inherently mean that the child is being exploited or that the artist or observers exploring these concepts have perverse intentions, no more than Vladimir Nabokov was laying out his own sexual fantasies when he wrote his masterpiece Lolita. It is simply immature and stupid to think this way.

Grow up, people, and recognize that your simplistic understanding of these issues does not make you right. I realize that your impotency in the face of real-world problems can be temporarily ignored when you manage to take down a website you just don’t like, but your moral outrage is completely misdirected here. In a court of law you would lose, and that is no miscarriage or aberration. It has been tested many, many times. The law is not wrong; you are. Get over it and find something better to do with your time.

12 thoughts on “When ‘Pigtails in Paint’ Is Under Attack, the Entire History of Art Is Under Attack

  1. Pip has right. However, in my eyes, there is still this to solve. Law is more or less clear when the nude becomes porn and what porn – with minors – is forbidden. But what to do with the beholders eye that find children portraiture attractive in a ranch more or less from eyecandy to straightway porn? (Childporn can also be very strongly ranched from here to there and I leave behind now what kind of here and there for the reader can imagine that self). So, law on the one hand and an esthetic approach of the child nude on the other. But an eye can even feel attracted or sexually excited to child portraits in clothes. One shoudl not take this into secret attacks upon any site off course, but I am curious what to answer the attracted, excited eye! And even more than that, sometimes children themselves seem to be excited and pose by themselves in a possible attractable, excitable way. So, also the question, what to do with that? What to do with such beholders and now and then such child models?

    • Thank you for your comment, Dmitri. What we do about those situations you describe is . . . nothing. You don’t force all of society to sacrifice a right—in this case the right of artists to depict children in the nude and the right of everyone to view them—because a handful of people might be turned on. The risk of sexually arousing a few pedophiles is small price to pay for freedom. Anyway, artists and art fans should not be held responsible for the actions, whatever they may be, of those who get turned on by these images. The people who go on to view real child porn or who abuse children are entirely responsible for their actions.

      • I could have given this answer earlier.

        However, still also beautiful, esthetic child nude van arouse erotic feelings, by the viewer, the artist and the model. In that lies the stupid attacks on the site. Doing nothing with it, just activist for the basic right and leave the rest to the beholder, producer, model is fine. But you can also discuss upon this. Or is that one step to discuss pedophilia? I am not talking here about child porn produced in misuse.

  2. From what I remember I met pigtails in paint at the end of last year, this site enchants me, an incredible artistic collection, what you do here is an extremely responsible and quality work!

    I am really very sad to know that once again this site is under attack … But I am very confident that you will resist! Art will always win against dishonesty and ignorance!

    A hug from your Brazilian reader!

  3. Artists are all obviously perverts! Have you seen the disgusting pornography painted by that guy Kandinsky? Canvasses should all be covered in 50% gray…I think it says so in the bible.

    • Ha ha, yeah. And don’t even get me started on Jackson Pollock. Now that guy was just an out-and-out perv!

  4. I would suggest that it is not only ‘Pigtails’ but humanity itself that is under attack. Klemperer, in his diaries that detail his daily experience between 1933 and 1945, illustrates how an ideology can subvert a nation and its culture such that no single small increase in persecution is in itself more than the equivalent of a bee sting: it hurts, it creates discomfort but only a very few succumb to anaphylactic shock. But if you are stung by many bees repeatedly over a long period…

    I love your website because of your erudition. I have learned so much about myself simply because of the way you help me see the subject and artist in context. Christian’s comment (above) is frightening proof of your assertion that the real danger is the anonymity afforded to illiterate, uneducated, psychologically damaged bigots: just the suggestion which Christian reports (that Amor Vincit Omnia might be ‘child porn’) is proof enough that these bigots are using the gullibility of the masses to oppress.

    I think you mistake the attacks on your website for the action of intellectually challenged zealots. Just recently I saw a report on the ‘taking down’ of a ‘dark-web’ site by the FBI who then ran the site for 13 days as a sting (during which time it was reportedly more efficient than it had been previously) using a warrant of questionable legality. When the premier government law-enforcement agency of a putative democracy uses tactics that are in and of themselves of doubtful legality (if not actually illegal) I fear that we are a few years past ‘1933’.

    Of all your examples I would single out Parrish’s ‘Daybreak’ and Picasso’s ‘Massacre in Korea’. The expressions of the two girls speak volumes; I have seen children like this many times: the work conveys a truth. Picasso’s piece I had never seen before (shame on me, I know) but it’s power is all the greater because of the defenceless nudity of the victims and the arrogant, rapine nudity of the murderers. If your detractors succeed, as I now fear they may, then Parrish will, metaphorically, be forced to clothe the standing girl but even that travesty cannot mask the honest humanity of the interaction of the subjects. But censor Piccasso and the censors stand on the right with the rapine aggressors…

    • On a side issue, it should be pointed out that there is debate among historians regarding whether or not that alleged massacre in North Korea actually occurred. This of course does not detract in any way from Picasso’s stature as one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century.

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