Now here’s something unique. In July of 2014 a three-year-old little girl named Karina Chikitova became hopelessly lost in the Siberian taiga for nearly two weeks with only her little dog to keep her company! The story of how such a small girl managed to survive those eleven harrowing days and nights borders on the miraculous, but she owes much to her canine companion Naida, who not only helped keep her warm during the near-freezing temperatures of the taiga nights but eventually led villagers back to her when the dog sensed she was in danger. Truly amazing! She has been nicknamed the Mowgli girl because of her survival skills in the wild. You can read all the details of this story here and elsewhere on the web. And because of this story, Russian artist Nicholay Chochchasov was inspired to create a sculptural tribute to the pair called Girl and Dog, which is now installed at the airport in Yakutsk, the capital of the Sakha Republic, where the little girl and her favorite pet reside.
Hey, hey! Sorry I’ve been away for awhile. But I have a good one for you! Henry Clews Jr. was an American artist by birth although he moved to France in 1914 because he felt Europe would be more conducive to his artistic experimentation, and there he remained for the rest of his life. Not long after the move he completed what would become his most famous piece, the marble and bronze God of Humormystics. The central figure is the titular god, and around the base of his pedestal are three other figures, all children. They are Adam, Eve and the God of Human Love (Eros).
Clews and his wife, Elsie Whelan Goelet Clews, called Marie, purchased the Château de la Napoule, a castle located in Mandelieu-la-Napoule, France which they set about restoring as it was in a state of disrepair. Once restored, they decorated it with many of Clews’ artworks including God of Humormystics, a wedding gift for Marie. Clews was an eccentric fellow who fancied himself a Don Quixote, and redubbed the castle Mancha. He also named his first son Mancha, but understandably, when he grew up he legally changed his name to Madison. Clews even called his valet Sancho.
Here you can really see Eve, the figure lying on the ground, very well.
Just a small one today, for the artist Sándor Járay. There were actually two Sándor Járays, and they were uncle and nephew. The first was born Alexander Jeitteles in Romania in 1845, but he established a studio in Vienna, Austria early in his life and remained there throughout his life. He was mostly a furniture designer, for which he was very successful. The second Sándor Járay, his nephew, was born in 1870. As I do not know which of the two designed this piece, I figured I’d better do a short bio for both.
This piece is a unique take on a Biblical theme, as it depicts Adam and Eve as children. I find it quite charming, don’t you?
Alix Marquet was a French sculptor, born in Nièvre in 1875 and died in Paris in 1939. His father Charles Marquet was a stonemason, giving young Alix an early interest in stone as a medium for expression. He also had some early drawing talent which caused the postmaster of his town, Henri Ferrier, who also happened to be a painter to take an interest in the 14-year-old boy and foster his budding artistic interests. With the assistance of some other gentlemen Alix moved to Paris as a teen and began his career as a sculptor. His first work, a bust of his own father, was accepted in the Salon in 1893, when he was just 18 years old. In 1901 he won his first medal at Salon, taking third prize for his piece L’imploration. Two years later he took second prize at Salon with Fin de Labeur. In another two years he at last took first prize, winning for Ceux qui restent. If you guessed that he would win his next big prize in two years, you’re right! Marquet took the esteemed National Prize for the very piece we are about to look at, Il n’est pas de rose…
[Edit: A French speaker kindly corrected my mistaken view that the title of this piece meant ‘It is not pink’ when it actually means ‘it is not a rose’ which definitely changes the meaning but I’m not really sure what the piece is meant to say. But a big thanks to you, sir! I think I’m just going to quit trying to translate these things myself!]
A cute toddler trait: curling the toes underneath the foot.
Here you can see she still has some of her baby fat as her belly protrudes somewhat. It’s also adorable how she gnaws on her pinkie finger as she considers the paradox of the rose that isn’t rose-colored.
I do have one other piece by Marquet to show you, but unfortunately I only have one image for it and it isn’t the best. C’est la vie.
And now to my first Italian sculptor! Cesare Lapini was a Florentine artist born in 1848 and died in 1890, at the age of 42. His favorite subject was the female of all ages, and his little girls are especially charming. The first piece is called Impara l’arte e mettila da parte, an old Italian aphorism that translates to something like “Learn an art and put it aside”, except with a nifty rhyme. The point of it is you never know when some little thing you learned might come in handy later. So this little girl is learning to knit, something a lot of girls her age learned in the 1800s and early 1900s.
This next one, Volere e Potere, is a variation on the same theme. It seems Lapini liked rhyming titles. This is another old saying and it means basically, “Be willing and you’ll be able.” Or to put it the way most English speakers would recognize it, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” It appears she is either learning to sew or trying to tie a knot.
The last featured piece is a young adolescent couple. The boy tries to steal a kiss but the bashful girl is not having it, even as she does this with a sheepish smile. It’s called Il Primo Bacio which means “The First Kiss” and is my favorite of this collection.
And we’re back in Gaul with François Moreau, better known as Hippolyte, one of three sculptor brothers who were the sons of another sculptor, Jean-Baptiste Moreau. I’m guessing that Jean-Baptiste really wanted his kids to follow in the old man’s footsteps! Well they certainly did. Although Hippolyte, the middle brother, was somewhat overshadowed by the baby of the family, Auguste, he did some wonderful stuff in his own right.
Hippolyte was born in Dijon in 1834, a full ten years after his older brother Mathuri, and Auguste would come along about two years after Hippolyte. He exhibited his work at the Salon throughout the late 1800s up until 1914. His sculptures even won awards at both the Exposition Universelle of 1878 and the Exposition Universelle of 1900. His most reknowned piece is a statue of French scientist Alexis Clairaut at the Hôtel de Ville de Paris, the Paris Town Hall. He died in Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1927. The majority of his works are now housed at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon.
Hippolyte’s pieces, like his younger brother’s, have often been rendered as objets d’art and that’s the case with all but one of the examples shown here. Our first piece is Le Petit Chaperon Rouge. You know who that is don’t you? A certain little girl with a red cape who is off to see her grandma with a basket of goodies, that’s who!
And speaking of little girls with baskets…
Here’s a sweet little lady with a tiny guitar.
One of Moreau’s favorite subjects was the child couple as represented by the last three pieces.
We move away from France for the moment and examine a living Swedish sculptor by the name of Peter Linde. For an artist who’s still living and working there isn’t much info about him on the web, so let’s just go right to his work, shall we?
The first piece we’ll look at is called Lärjungen, or The Student. The sculpture sits in a space near the Kulturhuset (House of Culture), in Sergels Torg. She sits serenely on her block, holding her feet, attentive to whatever or whoever it is she is watching. With her crossed legs and curious gaze she reminds me very much of statues of the Buddha. The model for this piece was Linde’s own daughter.
Here you can see the bottom portion of Edvin Öhrström’s sculptural tower Kristall, vertikal accent i glas och stål (Crystal, Vertical Accent in Glass and Steel), the centerpiece of the large fountain at the center of Sergels Torg, added in 1974.
Here it is again seen in the evening, fully lit. I love this shot!
Through rain or shine our little student never stops learning!
Now this cute little lass is called Mimi, and one version of her stands outside of Kyrkbyn in Göteborg, Sweden. The other is in Östersund, Sweden. Little Mimi has well-formed thighs which provides her an easy stance, and she seems to be captivated by something in her hand. A ladybug maybe?
Edit: I added a couple more images for Mimi, taken from Linde’s website. I also found a page with a good amount of info on Mr. Linde at this site. It’s all in Swedish though so no clue what it actually says.
We’re back to the French again this week, with Urbain Basset. Basset was born in Grenoble in 1842 and died in Bernin in 1924, and was most active during the Belle Époque (around 1870 to 1914). He exhibited several of his pieces in the Salon, like this one. Here we see a young Egyptian girl somewhere between 10 and 12 years of age, placing vernal flowers in her hair. The title of the piece, Les premières fleurs, has a double meaning. It refers to both the flowers the girl has picked and to the girl herself, who is very near to blossoming into womanhood. There is a wonderful description of this piece (in French) in Revue du Dauphiné et du Vivarais, Volume 4:
En revanche quel fin morceau que cette statue intitulée au livret: Premières fleurs. C’est une toute jeune fille dont le corps souple et menu nous apparaît dans sa gracieuse nudité, comme velouté par les tons adoucis du bronze. Elle est debout, portant sur la jambe gauche le torse légèrement cambré, un bras replié au-dessus de sa tête, cherchant de l’autre à fixer dans sa coiffure les fleurs argentées qu’elle vient de cueillir. Cette coiffure un peu bizarre et se yeux en émail donnent à la tête quelque chose d’étrange que intéresse et qui captive. L’ensemble, d’un dessin très-ferme, présente des lignes exquises dans leur simplicité; l’attitude est naturelle et charmante. Mais c’est surtout par l’exécution que se distingue cette délicieuse figure. On voit que M. Basset a trouvé quelque joli modèle et qu’il l’a reproduit fidèlement. De là quelques traits réalistes qui, du reste, étant donné le sujet, ne nous déplaisent point. Nous aimons cette sincérité, ce culte exagéré de la forme que l’on aperçoit dans ces bras un peu maigres, dans ce bassin étroit, dans ces jambes légèrement cagneuses, mais d’un dessin si juste et si vrai. Il y a là une teinte de naturalisme de bon aloi qui nous attire et nous séduit. La modelé du torse et du ventre et d’une remarquable finesse; il rend parfaitement les formes délicates de l’enfance. (p. 413)
The girl wears a headdress marking her out as Egyptian royalty, but is otherwise nude. Unfortunately it looks like there are a couple of holes in her, one at the pubis and one at the navel. Could she have been damaged by bullets during wartime? Very possible! Even with the holes she is gorgeous, don’t you think?
Update: Ron got a nice email from someone named Moko with more information on the holes in this piece that I mistook for bullet holes. I guess Moko contacted someone in the know, and it turns out the holes are most likely intentional as there was probably another part attached that shielded her nakedness, now missing. I’ll just go right ahead and put up the response Moko got. I do love to get new details from experts on the pieces I adore, so a big big ‘Merci!’ to Moko and Mme Valérie Huss, you beautiful people you!
Il y a effectivement deux petits trous dans cette statue. Les trous sont très réguliers et je pense qu’ils devaient servir à fixer une applique (feuillage ?, fleurs ?) pour cacher le pubis de la jeune fille. Cet élément a disparu à une date que nous ignorons et nous n’avons pas de photographie ancienne pour le prouver. De même les yeux étaient, à l’origine, incrustés de métal noir et blanc.
Let’s move away from French sculptors for a while and look at the work of an American sculptor, Chauncey Bradley Ives. Mr. Ives, who was born in 1810 in Hamden, Connecticut, worked mostly in the Neoclassical style. A favorite subject of this sculptor was the carefree little girl, reflected in his frequent use of a common artistic tradition: a revealing dress slippage. Today someone would probably call it a ‘nip slip’ but let’s not be crass, hey?
The first piece I could only find one image for and it isn’t a very good one. This little girl seems a little shy. Her dress has just started to fall down over one shoulder. She’s carrying a pouch of something at her side. What could be in it I wonder?
The next one is really my favorite. It’s called The Truant. There’s a little story here. She has skipped school to spend time alone at the beach, picking up shells and listening to the ocean in them as the breeze flutters her hair. This one would be nice submerged in a shallow little pond, with one foot gently splashing in the water!
The next piece is very similar. It’s called San Souci, which means “without worry” in French. All these little girls with their dresses falling down might seem obscene to the modern viewer but they actually are supposed to put forth the idea that these girls are sexually innocent. They are unaware of their revealing state. It doesn’t matter to them because they have no knowledge of sex yet. The Victorian viewer would’ve understood this perfectly and it wouldn’t have been a problem for them.
As well as his naturalistic, allegorical and mythological sculptures, Ives sculpted busts and full-length portraits of many notable people of his day. These include Noah Webster, William H. Seward, Jonathan Trumbull, Roger Sherman and Thomas Day, who wrote one of the earliest children’s books based on the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, called The History of Sandford and Merton. He moved to Europe in 1844 and lived and worked there for the rest of his life. He died in Rome in 1894.
My second post is dedicated to René Iché, another French sculptor. He was born in Sallèles-d’Aude in 1897 and died in 1954. Iché was a soldier in WWI, where he suffered injuries and trauma. His experiences in the Great War inspired him to create one of his most famous works, Guernica. Many artists were moved by this historic event where the German Luftwaffe deliberately bombed a Basque civilian population, and created memorial works, most famously Pablo Picasso. But Iché’s piece is much simpler than Picasso’s. It is simply a single skeletal little girl, a symbol of the most innocent victims of the attack.
Another fascinating piece by the artist is Contrefleur, a word that translates to “Anti-Flower” which doesn’t seem very flattering. This is Iché in realist mode. In stark contrast to the usual artistic ideal for the youthful feminine figure, he gives us a pubescent girl who is a little fleshy, and her demeanor is somewhat shy and standoffish. Additionally, her pubis—usually smooth in sculpture—is meant to be covered in matted pubic hair. No fay little creature, this! And yet I still find her beautiful. I think Iché did too, and he meant the title ironically, as a snub to critics and idealists.