Pierre Brun illustration from Revue des Arts Décoratifs

There is virtually no information available about French illustrator Pierre Brun (who is not to be confused with earlier artist Jean-Baptiste Pierre Le Brun, though he may have been related to him). This is one of a handful of works I could find attributed to him, and the only one that really fit the Pigtails theme. It comes from the French art and style magazine Revue des Arts Décoratifs, though I couldn’t tell you which issue or page. Otherwise I might be able to find a better copy of it elsewhere. But this one isn’t bad.  After a bit of cleaning up, that is. It definitely fits into the Art Nouveau mode and was a practice example of a border illustration such as was often found in books of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Pierre Brun – From ‘Revue des Arts Décoratifs’

Pierre Brun – From ‘Revue des Arts Décoratifs’ (detail)


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About Pip Starr

I am the founder and original editor-in-chief of Pigtails in Paint, running it initially by myself for the first few years. Then Ron joined the party, and I eventually ceded overall control of Pigtails to him, taking a back seat to focus on other things. Best decision I've ever made.

4 thoughts on “Pierre Brun illustration from Revue des Arts Décoratifs

  1. This is my first time commenting. My comments pertain to the site in general. I’m posting them here because this looks like the most recent blog entry.

    I’ve enjoyed reading through many of the posts. I think Pigtails in Paint serves several important purposes. As things have turned out, clearly one of its main points is to battle against unhealthy attitudes toward childhood nudity and sexuality.

    I agree with the position that our taboos about child nudity stem from irrational fears of pedophilia and child pornography–fears that have reached hysterical proportions–and it seems plausible to me that the whole system of taboos and fears is self-reinforcing. Therefore, it’s particularly healthy, in general, for people to permit themselves to see children nude (in ordinary nonpornographic contexts of course). This is probably especially good for children themselves, who have a natural sexual curiosity that shouldn’t be repressed. Pigtails in Paint facilitates this healthy practice in a world where it’s much more difficult than it should be. It also advocates for more relaxed attitudes toward childhood sexuality, which I think could be a very positive type of change if we could get the specifics right. Prudery has done significant harm.

    That said, I feel that the attitudes expressed in the text and comments sometimes seem to miss a couple of essential points about childhood sexuality and its proper place in society. Perhaps it’s the disregarding of these important factors that makes a lot of people–parents especially–queasy about what seems to be advocated here.

    The hard thing about advocating social change is how to draw the line. We start envisioning brave new worlds, and where does it end? With childhood sexuality, for example, at some point we’ve gone too far. Hysteria aside, most people–even people who advocate a lot of openness–would say that it’s going too far to suggest that adults should be allowed to have prepubescent kids as sexual partners. That’s simply childhood sexual abuse. It’s well over the line. But where is the line itself exactly? How far is just too far?

    I submit that we must find the line by subjecting our brave new worlds to the same standards that we’re subjecting our present world to. We say repression of childhood sexuality is unhealthy because it’s unnatural. Nature would have children validate and act on certain sexual impulses as they grow, and we hamper their proper development when we repress those impulses. Therefore, whatever we advocate instead should be something more natural–in general–than what we have now.

    It’s very important to recognize that Nature gave children parents. I feel that this consideration is conspicuously lacking from a lot of the text and discussion here. Yes, children are whole people: first-class citizens. But they are not yet ready to live autonomously. They need adults to protect them and help them navigate through the early part of life. We can observe not only that this need exists, but also that under normal circumstances children naturally form very strong emotional bonds with both parents at birth, and these bonds continue throughout childhood. If we wanted to ignore the proper roles of parents, we’d have to divorce ourselves from a majority of what’s known about healthy childhood development.

    Yet in reading the commentary and discussion about childhood sexuality here, several times I found myself coming back to the question: Where are the parents in all this? My perception was that the speaker wanted to consider childhood sexuality in the world of Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts” comics: a child’s world, where adults are never seen and participate very little.

    Children are not served by pushing aside their parents. In fact, when a nefarious adult enters a child’s life, the first thing that adult will generally try to do is weaken the child’s loyalty to his or her parents. The child molester knows that children who obey their parents will not be cooperative. So the evil adult must first break down Nature’s defenses by convincing the child to keep secrets from parents and embark on activities the child knows his or her parents would disapprove of.

    As a parent myself, when I read discussions about children’s scope of sexual expression, and those discussions completely leave parents out of the picture, I can’t help feeling that the writer is somebody who might encourage children to break free from their parents and keep them in the dark about what’s really going on. And of course that feels nefarious to me. It’s just what a child molester would want a child to do, and it’s certainly not in the child’s best interests.

    I read one discussion in which (if I recall correctly) the poster and a commenter considered whether (in, I presume, a hypothetical society) an adult should be free to pursue a sexual relationship with a pubescent child. The poster argued that although it might conceivably be good for the child, it might also be bad, and therefore it would be best not to pursue such a thing. The commenter countered that we never really know even how being born is going to come out for the child. (I assume this meant the commenter thought it should be okay for the adult to pursue sex with the child.) But throughout the discussion there seemed to be a tacit assumption that it was totally a question of what the adult and the child wanted, without any consideration of what the child’s parents felt about it, or how it would affect the family dynamic if it happened. That lack of consideration made the discussion feel creepy to me. One of the major benefits I’d hope to see in a more open society would be more parental involvement in adolescents’ sexual choices, so that the kids could be better protected.

    Prudery has the unhealthy effect of surgically isolating human sexuality from the rest of the human condition and considering it as a thing unto itself. I think if we look to what’s natural, sexuality is inextricably interwoven with all the complex bonding mechanisms at work between humans. Coitus does not generally happen in an emotional vacuum. Nature would have it that people are attracted, and they bond, and they have sex. The bond leads to sex, and sex strengthens the bond. The idea that sex could be “purely physical” is nonsense. For “pure” physical gratification, a well-designed sex toy would be as good as another person. Sex is fundamentally an activity of intimate connection and bonding between two people: sort of like a hug on steroids. This removal of sex from its emotional context–romantic love–is a negative consequence of prudery. We were told that love is beautiful but sex is dirty. Thus, we learned to consider sex as a separate thing.

    The antidote to this isn’t to keep sex as a separate thing and start insisting that it’s great and encouraging everyone to do it as often as possible. The real antidote is to reintegrate it. The term “sexual” is really a pretty arbitrary category. Is a hug sexual? It’s a physical contact between two people that expresses intimacy, and it feels good to the participants. But hugs are not considered dirty or even separate from ordinary affection. In the context of adult romantic love, sex has its place as an expression of an intimate bond between two people. We don’t pursue hugs because they feel pleasurable physically. We pursue them because we want to express affection. If sex were in its proper place, it wouldn’t be separated from love. Even the radical vision of childhood sexual openness in Will McBride’s “Show Me!” keeps sexual relations and love firmly fused together.

    Sexuality is complicated. At all ages and in every stage of development, our sexual feelings also involve warm fuzzies toward other people. This is one of the tragic things about sexual repression–it’s really expressions of affection that we’re stifling.

    It’s unnatural to single out sexual urges, thoughts, and behaviors and artificially repress them. It’s equally unnatural to single them out and artificially stimulate or encourage them. We ought not teach children that sex is dirty. But neither should we teach children that sex is something they should be really into as soon as possible and as fanatically as possible. We ought to teach them what sex is, that when it happens, it’s natural, and that there are certain risks involved, especially after puberty, so that parents should be aware of what’s going on and involved. If we never made the subject taboo, it would be perfectly normal for children to discuss it with their parents, and thus the kids would be protected–from exploitation by adults as well as from other hazards like pregnancy and STDs.

    It’s a bad thing that kids are defying their parents and having sex on their own–high risk sex as often as not. Sometimes I get the feeling that we are proposing to declare that a good thing, and people even seem to be suggesting that adults could be young children’s sexual partners. To me, that all loses sight of where we started–what would be natural. Nature gave kids parents. In terms of what’s natural, I don’t think healthy adults desire young kids as sexual partners, and I don’t think young kids generally desire adults–to the extent they can correctly sort out and interpret their own feelings, which is still limited at puberty. Sexual relationships are naturally peer relationships, because the sex is an expression of an emotional bond that’s normally on a peer level. An adult can manipulate a child into consenting to something that he or she may think is a good idea at the time, but will later regret–perhaps bitterly, as sex is a very powerful expression of one’s intimate self. That’s why we have “age of consent” laws to govern sex between adolescents and adults. It seems silly to suggest that we’re stifling children sexually by having such regulations. That feels more like a complaint coming from hebephiles who would like it to be okay to pursue sex with kids. But in general, when parents are involved, they can help their kids understand their own feelings and make good choices with all the relevant information.

    These two considerations–parental roles, and the natural place of sexuality in the larger context of normal human relationships and family life–these two considerations seem to be absent from a lot of the rhetoric I see on the subject. I feel that if we were to forge new attitudes toward childhood sexuality without considering these essential facts, we’d likely do at least as much harm as good.

    • Firstly, thank you for this long and thoughtful reply. However, it is quite long, and I needed several days to process it. Upon reflection, there’s little in it that I take issue with. I will say that the main reason parents don’t appear in these images very often is because it is not the focus of the blog. The focus is the girl-child, and as such, she gets the overwhelming bulk of attention here. I would add that this blog is not ultimately an ideological blog, save that it reflects the spirit of freedom of expression. Of course parents are important in the decision of children modeling publicly, including whether or not they appear in the nude. To my knowledge, we have never suggested that children’s parents shouldn’t be involved in the decision of whether or not their kids may appear in art to be publicly displayed. But parents agreeing to allow their kids to model for art, nude or otherwise, has never been the deciding factor for the state or critics of the work in terms of its appropriateness or legality. If anything, the criticism has been levied at the parents almost as frequently as the artists who produce the work, and often they are one and the same anyway, for good (mostly) or for bad (consider the case of Irina Ionesco). But again, family dynamics are not the main focus of this blog, or even a secondary focus. Always keep that in mind as you peruse the site.

    • In situations with young girls involving nudity or sexuality, the question always comes up, “Where are the parents?” along with the mandated wringing of hands. To which I answer, “Hopefully, right there making sure their child’s well-being is being protected.” Being nude is in no way innately harmful, certainly no more than, say, participating in athletics or the myriad other things parents shepherd their children into. Indeed, risk of abuse is present in all realms of endeavor where children participate. And, while we can all be sickened at the revelations regarding Larry Nasser, without meaning minimize that horror, it is a statistically small risk in comparison to the tremendous physical damage child gymnasts and dancers inflict on their bodies before they are even fully grown. My physical therapist has some true horror stories.

      If we want to talk about the parents’ role in protecting vs permitting risk, we can look at the example of Selah Schneiter (who I hope to see celebrated on this site soon), climbing El Capitan at age ten. She was climbing almost before she could walk, but we rightly celebrate her courage and determination, and commend her father for raising such a strong child. Yet the consequence of a fall from great height is immeasurably greater than that of being seen naked in a photograph by someone unsavory in another time and place. It’s an example of our culture’s skewed moral priorities. I for one would like every child to have a set of healthy, well-adjusted parents who truly have her best interests at heart. And I also want a pony. The world is what it is.

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