Captain Barton’s Motu Girl

Captain Francis Rickman Barton (1865–1947) was an officer in the British Army and an amateur photographer who was stationed in New Guinea from 1899 to 1908. In 1904 he began assisting anthopologist Charles Seligman, who was preparing the book Melanesians of British New Guinea (1910). The book features some of Captain Barton’s photos. Sixteen photographs taken there by Barton are now in the British Museum and more than 1,500 of his photos are in the collection at the Royal Anthropological Institute in London. According to the British Museum, nearly all of the photos are of females. The photo below, from the Royal Anthropological Institute, is his most famous.

Motu

F. R. Barton – Motu Girl, Fairfax Harbour, Port Moresby (c1907)

According to Photographing Papua: Representation, Colonial Encounters and Imaging in the Public Domain (2007) by Max Quanchi, the girl in the photo was a regular model for Barton. There is another nude photo of this model that was probably taken the same day. The tatoos on the girl’s abdomen were retouched with lampblack, and she was taken to a secluded area of mangroves away from the port to provide a suitable background.

The book South Sea maidens : Western fantasy and sexual politics in the South Pacific (2002) by Michael Sturma, and Supple Bodies: The Papua New Guinea Photographs of Captain Francis R. Barton (2003) by Christopher Wright, also note that the anthropological photographs of Barton are usually young females carefully posed to produce a photo of artistic as well as anthropological merit.

The photo has inspired other works of art. A drawing by Megaera Lorenz of the girl as an ancient Egyptian is here. Chuck Bowden’s version, drawn in pencil, pen, and colored markers is here. A realistic sculpture by Lisa Lichtenfels is below.  The tattoos on the girl and the mangroves have been deleted, and a few other changes were made.

gly01_img020

Lisa Lichtenfels – Motu Girl (date unknown)

Some Barton photos from the British Museum collection are available on the internet, but they lack the degree of artistry shown in the Motu Girl, Fairfax Harbour, Port Moresby photo. These photos, examples of which are here and here, are more stiffly posed and appear to be produced only for an anthropological study of tatoo patterns. I was not able to find any Of Barton’s photographs from the Royal Anthropological Institute collection. I wonder what artistic treasures may be there.

Girls as Fairies

Several years ago I visited a medieval fair. It was a modern American version of medieval Europe, censored to conform with modern American concepts of decorum. Therefore, I was surprised to see a booth selling what at first glance appeared to be figurines of nude girls. Then I saw they were not really figures of human girls; each had a tiny pair of gauzy wings. They were actually intended to represent nude fairies. Was it really necessary to put wings on the nude girls and call them fairies?

In my opinion, it was. I would not have been offended by figurines of human girls, but I would have been intimidated about entering their booth and perusing their wares if the figures were displayed as human girls, because I thought others would think it was improper. I had the strange feeling that the other people there felt the same. I felt that nobody who browsed through the booth was offended by nudity, but feared others would look down on them if the figurines represented girls instead of fairies.

I did not get one of the figurines, but I have found other fairy figurines, including this one, at the Mollamari web page.

Mollamari - Young Fairy (2015)

Mollamari – Young Fairy (2015)

Note the attention to detail on this figure. It looks like a realistic figure of a girl, and it may not be immediately apparent why it is a fairy. You can see how the figure was made here, and you will see that the ears—not visible on the completed figure because they are covered by hair—are pointed. If the feature that makes the figure a fairy instead of a girl is not easily seen, is it still better to make it a fairy? In my opinion the answer is yes, but I cannot explain why. This is not logical, but nothing about fairies is logical.

Fairies, elves, and leprechauns are known to occultists as “elementals”, spiritual creatures that are neither human souls nor angels. Some UFO researchers believe that flying saucers are fairies that manifest themselves in an updated form, but still play the same irrational, centuries-old pranks. Although some fairies were thought to be of diminutive size as far back as Gervase of Tilbury (1211), most fairies prior to the 17th century were thought to look much like humans. The de Lusignan family of France, in fact, claims descent from a fairy, Mélusine, who for six days of the week looked exactly like a human. According to Richard A. Schindler, Associate Professor of Art Allegheny College, fairies in art became very popular in the mid-nineteenth century, in part as a contrivance to permit nudity that was becoming unacceptable in paintings of humans. This view is shared by Terri Windling, artist, author, and founder of Endicott Studios, and also by Christopher Wood of the Antique Collectors Club.

It is my personal observation that most of the fairy paintings from the 1860s or earlier portray fairies as adults. Later artists are more likely to paint fairies as juveniles.

Luis Ricardo Falero (1851–1896), was a painter who specialized in fantasy subjects. Most of his paintings are of women over the age limit for Pigtails, but the butterfly girl in this painting appears to be adolescent. Although the fairy is nude, fairy art by this time was not merely a contrivance for nudity. The atmosphere of fantasy and magic is to me the main attraction of this painting. The girl, the butterfly wings, and the flowers, considered separately, are realistic. When these elements are combined in the painting, we go from realism to pure fantasy.

Falero

Luis Falero – The Butterfly (1893)

Margaret Winifred Tarrant (1888–1959) illustrated fairies for children’s books in the early 20th century. Fairy art was still very popular, but was considered especially appropriate for children. I like the facial expressions on the fairies in this painting of a formal procession.

Tarrant

Margaret Tarrant – Lady’s Smock Fairies (c1920)

Cicely Mary Barker (1895–1973) was another popular illustrator of children’s books. The following are from her series of Fairy Flowers of the Spring.

Cicely Mary Barker - Bluebell Fairy (1923)

Cicely Mary Barker – Bluebell Fairy (1923)

Barker2

Cicely Mary Barker – Daffodil Fairy (1923)

Ida Outhwaite (1888–1960) is the third of the early 20th century illustrators I will include in this post. I did not realize until after I started to gather information that there were so many very good artists who specialized in fairies. These two illustrations are typical of her work.

Ida Outhwaite - When the Fairies Came (c1920)

Ida Outhwaite – When the Fairies Came (c1920)

Ida Outhwaite - Wild Geranium (c1920)

Ida Outhwaite – Wild Geranium (c1920)

Brian Froud (born 1947) is one of the most famous contemporary British fairy artists. His fairies appear to be rustic and mischievous. I like the natural feeling of his paintings. Here are two samples.

Brian Froud - Cover Illustration from Faeries (1979)

Brian Froud – Cover Illustration from Faeries (1979)

Brian Froud - Illustration from Good Faeries / Bad Faeries (1998)

Brian Froud – Illustration from Good Faeries / Bad Faeries (1998)

Erlé Ferronnière (born 1971) is a French artist. His favorite themes are mythology and legend. I think his work is great. It is hard for me to explain why; there is just something magical and otherworldly about his art. The first example of his is this cute butterfly girl.

Erlé Ferronnière - (title and date not known)

Erlé Ferronnière – (title and date not known)

The next is my favorite Ferronnière. Most of the fairies are the wrong age and sex for Pigtails in Paint, but there is a butterfly girl in the lead and a dragonfly girl overhead. Are the fairies kidnapping a human baby? If they are, the baby does not seem to mind. The more I view this painting, the more it draws me into the strange world of fairy.

Erlé Ferronnière - (title and date not known)

Erlé Ferronnière – (title and date not known)

The last artist I want to include is a Japanese artist who uses the name Syuceui. His work is posted on pixiv. You must register on pixiv to view any drawings that feature nudity, but registration is free. Syuceui has realistically drawn girls, but with surrealistic elements such as wings and floating in air. I have included three of his works. All are simply titled Fairy. The last is my favorite. I like the expression on the fairy’s face; it appears she enjoys posing for her portrait. I would like the drawing if it were of a human girl too. If you look at it logically, it essentially is a drawing of a girl. The only things that indicate she is not human are a pair of wings behind her and a frog and mushroom which, if drawn to scale, indicate her size. That is enough to remove her from our world, and put her in the magic and illogical realm of fairy.

Syuceui - Fairy (2015)

Syuceui – Fairy (2015) (1)

Syuceui2

Syuceui – Fairy (2015) (2)

Syuceui Fairy (2015)

Syuceui Fairy (2015) (3)

 

Painting American Beauties: Karen Noles

Karen Noles was born in Nebraska in 1947. She attended the Omaha School of Commercial Art. After graduation, she worked as an artist for the Hallmark Card Company. She then moved to Montana and lives near the Flathead Indian Reservation.

The Flatheads call themselves “Salish” in their native language. Neighboring tribes formerly bound the heads of infants so they would develop a pointed skull. The Flathead people did not bind the infant’s heads, so neighboring tribes called them “Flatheads”. Karen Noles’ models are from the Flathead Tribe.

She writes, “I love painting children because of their innocence, their genuine, honest, and spontaneous response to life.”

The first image is of a girl with hair in traditional braids holding a basket.

Karen Noles "Little White Dove"

Karen Noles – Little White Dove

The next painting, of a girl in front of a teepee, is titled Little Bare Feet.

Karen Noles - "Little Bare Feet"

Karen Noles – Little Bare Feet

Safe and Serene is the title of the painting of an Indian girl holding a young fox.

Karen Noles - Safe and Serene

Karen Noles – Safe and Serene

The next portrait is called Little Bear.  Perhaps it is the girl’s name.

Karen Noles - Little Bear

Karen Noles – Little Bear

The painting of the girl with a cat is Feathers and Fur.

Karen Noles - Feathers and Fur

Karen Noles – Feathers and Fur

The flowers in this painting appear quite large; Little Wildflower may be the name of the girl.

Karen Noles - Little Wildflower

Karen Noles – Little Wildflower

One of my favorites is this cute girl holding a doll.

Karen Noles - Shy One

Karen Noles – Shy One

The girl and the pup both seem happy.

Karen Noles - Innocent Delight

Karen Noles – Innocent Delight

The last painting I will post is Kiowa Babysitter.  Although most of the models are of the Salish or Flathead tribe, the artist sometimes references other Indian Nations in her work.  Most Kiowa live in Oklahoma.

Karen Noles - Kiowa Babysitter

Karen Noles – Kiowa Babysitter

Unfortunately, I was not able to find the dates each painting was completed.

Karen Noles’ web page

Native American Beauties

In the year 1500, Pedro Cabral became the first European in recorded history to visit Brazil. He seemed particularly impressed by the beauty of the Indian girls he encountered, and he wrote,

Aly amdavam antr’eles tres ou quatro moças bem moças e bem jentijs, com cabelos mujto pretos comprjdos pelas espadoas, e suas vergonhas tão altas e tam çaradinhas, e tam limpas das cabeleiras, que de as nos mujto bem olharmos nom tijnhamos nenhuūa vergonha.

The translation, according to Alessandro Zir is,

In that place, three or four young women walked among them, very young and very heathen, with very black hair, long to the shoulder blades, and their shames so high, so shut, and so cleaned from hair that, so well we look at them, we felt no kind of shame.  -Luso-Brazilian Encounters of the Sixteenth Century, a styles of Thinking Approach by Alessandro Zir, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2011

The word vergonhas, which he translates as shame, was a euphemism for genitals. Four hundred years later, the Indian girls of tropical South America became a favorite subject for photography. The first photo is of two girls of the Canela tribe in Brazil. The photograph, taken between 1908 and 1946, is from the Coleção Etnográfica Carlos Estevão de Oliveira of the Museu do Estado de. Pernambuco.

(Uncredited) - Canela Tribe Girls

(Uncredited) – Canela Tribe Girls

These Okaina girls were photographed by Thomas Whiffen in 1914 in either Peru or Colombia.

Thomas Whiffen - Okaina girls (1914)

Thomas Whiffen – Okaina girls (1914)

This photo is of a South American dance. It was published in The Secret Museum of Mankind in 1935.

(Uncredited) - Snake Dance of Amazonian Girls

(Uncredited) – Snake Dance of Amazonian Girls

Indian girls impressed early European visitors to North America as well. William Strachey, secretary for the Jamestown colony in Virginia wrote, in 1612, an account of Pocahontas coming to Jamestown naked and turning cartwheels with the boys of the colony:

Pocahontas a well-featured but wanton young girle . . . sometymes resorting to our Fort, of the age then of 11, or 12 yeares…would gett the boyes forth with her into the markett place and make them wheele, falling on their hands, turning their heeles upwardes, whom she would follow, and wheel so herself naked as she was all the Fort over . . . .

Although Pocahontas has been a subject of several artists, she is usually depicted as older and fully clothed.

A statue of a young Pocahontas stands in Gloucester County, Virginia. The sculpture by Adolf Sehring was completed in 1994. This photo is from a postcard by Michelle Harbour.

Adolf Sehringwas - Pocahontas (1994)

Adolf Sehring – Pocahontas (1994)

David McFall made a nude statue of Pocahontas Pocohontas La Belle Sauvage in 1955. However, Pocahontas appears to be about 20 years old in this statue.

In Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of North American Indians
by George Catlin, first published in London in 1844, Catlin writes of his visit to the Minataree Indian village on the Upper Missouri River. He wrote:

In this manner we were conveyed to the middle of the stream, where we were soon surrounded by a dozen or more beautiful girls, from twelve to fifteen and eighteen years of age, who were at that time bathing on the opposite shore.

They all swam in a bold and graceful manner, and as confidently as so many otters or beavers; and gathering around us, with their long black hair floating about on the water, whilst their faces were glowing with jokes and fun, which they were cracking about us, and which we could not, understand.

In the midst of this delightful little aquatic group, we three sat in our little skin-bound tub (like the “three wise men of Gotham, who went to sea in a bowl,” &c.), floating along down the current, losing sight, and all thoughts, of the shore, which was equi-distant from us on either side; whilst we were amusing ourselves with the playfulness of these dear little creatures who were floating about under the clear blue water, catching their hands on to the sides of our boat; occasionally raising one-half of their bodies out of the water, and sinking again, like so many mermaids.

Catlin was a pianter, but unfortunately did not paint a picture of this incident.

The anthropologist Frederick Starr photographed this girl in Silao, Mexico, while doing research among the Indians in 1896. The image is scanned from the book Partial Recall, edited by Lucy R. Lippard (1992).

Frederick Starr - La Pinta, Silao, Mexico (1896)

Frederick Starr – La Pinta, Silao, Mexico (1896)

Frederick Monsen was born in Norway in 1865. He immigrated to America, and became a photographer. He accompanied the Army on the expedition that captured Geronimo in 1886. He is best known for his early 20th century photographs of Indian life in the southwestern United States. The first two images were photographed in about 1907.

Frederick I. Monsen - Nude pueblo Indian girl holding small child at swimming pool (c1907)

Frederick I. Monsen – Nude pueblo Indian girl holding small child at swimming pool (c1907)

Frederick I. Monsen - A Study in Bronze (c1907)

Frederick I. Monsen – A Study in Bronze (c1907)

The third image by Monsen was taken in 1921, and was published in National Geographic.

Frederick I Monsen - Three naked, Hopi girls sit together on a rock ledge (1921)

Frederick I Monsen – Three naked, Hopi girls sit together on a rock ledge (1921)

The photo of this Hopi girl is by Edward Curtis.  Curtis (1868–1952) is one of the most famous photographers to specialize in American Indians.  He began photographing Indians in 1895.  In 1906, J.P. Morgan financed a project to photograph and document as much of the remaining traditional Indian culture as possible.

Edward Curtis - Hopi Angel (c1905)

Edward Curtis – Hopi Angel (c1905)

The next two photos are of Kiowa girls, both from the early 20th century or late 19th century.

(Photographer Unknown) - Kiowa Girl (c1900)

(Photographer Unknown) – Kiowa Girl (c1900)

(Photographer Unknown) - O-o-be-aka Oyebi Kiowa girl (c1894)

(Photographer Unknown) – Oyebi Kiowa girl (c1894)

A photo of an Apache girl.

(Photographer Unknown) - Apache girl (c1880)

(Photographer Unknown) – Apache girl (c1880)

The next photo is from the cover of a book about Cynthia Ann Parker, a white woman captured by the Comanche Indians.  I could not identify the photo or the photographer, but it is not a photo of Cynthia Ann Parker herself.  It is possible that it is her half-Indian, half-White daughter, but that would only be speculation.

(Photographer Unknown) - Comanche Girl (c1870)

(Photographer Unknown) – Comanche Girl (c1870)

Although documenting the photographers and dates of these photos on the internet is difficult, it is our hope that a reader who is expert on South and/or North American Indians might come forward with more definitive information.  -Ron