Eliseu Visconti

Eliseu Visconti was born in Italy in 1866. The Visconti family moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil before Eliseu was ten years old. Visconti studied at the São Paulo School of Arts and Crafts and at the Brazilian Imperial Academy. In 1888 he was awarded a gold medal by the Academy. He went to Paris to study art at the French schools in 1893. Eugène Grasset, a pioneer of the Art Nouveau movement, was one of Visconti’s teachers. Eliseu Visconti introduced Art Nouveau to Brazil.

After returning to Brazil, Visconti was made a professor of painting at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes. He was in Europe again in 1913 to 1920, and during that time he painted the foyer paintings for the Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, and shipped them back to Brazil. Young girls are the subject of many of Visconti’s art. Ten examples are included in this article. Images in this post are from The Eliseu Visconti Project site, where a more comprehensive collection of Visconti’s art, and his biography may be seen.

Eliseu Visconti – Nu de Pé (1892)

Nu de Pé (Standing Nude) was painted in 1892. It is the earliest Visconti painting in this post, and by comparing it with later paintings we can see how the artist progressed. The face is not as expressive as in later paintings; she looks as if she is bored by posing. Her left hand looks large and masculine, almost as if it is another person’s hand.

Eliseu Visconti – No Verão ou Menina com Ventarola (1893)

No Verão ou Menina com Ventarola (In the Summer or Girl with a Fan) was painted in 1893. Like the previous image, Visconti painted it in Paris. The girl’s expression seems more relaxed, and to me this painting seems more natural than Nu de Pé.

Eliseu Visconti – As Duas Irmãs ou No Verão (1894)

As Duas Irmãs ou No Verão (The Two Sisters or In the Summer) is similar to Menina com Ventarola. Look at the bedposts in the background of Menina com Ventarola and you will see that she is on the same bed as As Duas Irmãs. Both paintings have the same alternate title, No Verão.

Eliseu Visconti – Oréades preliminary drawing (1899)

A preliminary drawing and a finished painting for Oréades (Forest Nymphs) are shown. When I first saw Oréades, I thought it was a painting of seven adolescent girls. I saw six girls in flimsy diaphanous garments that left their bodies visible, and one nude but draped with a ribbon that concealed the figure’s right breast and pubic area. According to The Eliseu Visconti Project, the nude figure with the ribbon is actually a shepherd boy dancing with six nymphs. In the preliminary drawing for Oréades, it can be seen that the effeminate appearing shepherd was modeled by an adolescent girl.

Eliseu Visconti – Oréades (1899)

After Visconti returned to Brazil, he organized an exhibition of his work at the National School of Fine Arts in 1901. The study for the cover of the exhibition catalog is typical Art Nouveau. The four nude girls are growing from, and part of a thorny vine. It is to me a very intriguing image. I would have liked to see a full color painting of this work.

Eliseu Visconti – As artes – Estudo para a Capa do Catálogo da Exposição de 1901 (1901)

Primavera (Spring) is another painting with an expressive face. Note that the face is darker than the rest of the body. Is the model blushing because she is shy? That would fit the expression on her face. It could also be that only her face is tanned because she is normally fully dressed when she is out in the sun. As in many Visconti paintings, the main figure is shown in greater detail than the background.

Eliseu Visconti – Primavera (circa1912)

Female Figure Study and Female Figures – Study for the Arcades are both drawings for the murals that Visconti would paint for the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro. The painting based on Female Figure Study was apparently destroyed when the arcades of the concert hall were renovated in 1934.

Eliseu Visconti – Female Figure Study (1913)

Eliseu Visconti – Female Figures – Study for the Arcades (1913)

Olhar de Menina (The Girl’s Look) is the only clothed portrait of a girl included in this article, but Visconti painted many such portraits of girls over his career. Olhar de Menina is one of Visconti’s later paintings. It was painted about 1935, and Visconti died in 1944.

Eliseu Visconti – Olhar de Menina (circa1935)

Natalia Rak’s Big Paintings

Natalia Rak is a contemporary Polish painter, born in 1986, and studied art at University of Lodz. Rak is famous for her very big paintings on the exterior walls of buildings. Women and girls are common subjects of her paintings. In a 2016 interview for The Forest Magazine, Natalia Rak said, “I am a woman and I think I do understand women, even though we are complicated creatures. It is easier to portray affection through a subtle female body and face, than through a male … when I paint children there are no such issues when selecting gender.” Rak acknowledged in the same interview that there are difficulties, and even danger in painting high buildings, especially in bad weather. Nevertheless she seems to enjoy art, and is appreciative of the opportunities to travel that she gets because of her painting.

Natalia Rak – Legend of Giants (2013)

Legend of Giants, also known as Girl with a Watering Can, is Natalia Rak’s most famous painting. Rak said that Legend of Giants is “my dearest, and at the same time, most cursed work. … This mural has somehow confined me in specific areas, which I can not free myself from. Everyone would like to have a little girl on the wall, but I do not want to paint cute little children for the rest of my life.” Legend of Giants is on a building in Białysok, Poland. It shows a girl in traditional Polish dress apparently watering a tree growing in front of the building.

Anonymous – Natalia Rak at Work in Italy (2014)

Although Rak does not want to confine her art to depictions of cute girls, she acknowledges that paintings of girls are popular, and she has created several. All six of the murals featured in this post include girls.

Natalia Rak – Explore Nature (2014)

Explore Nature is a painting of a girl using a magnifying glass to observe a ladybug beetle. Rak painted it on a building in Terracina, Italy for the Festival Memorie Urbane in 2014.

Natalia Rak – Magic Book (2014)

Magic Book was painted in the same year, 2014, for the Art Scrape Festival in Malmo, Sweden. I was surprised to read that Rak took “several days” to paint Magic Book. Given the size of the painting, I would have thought that the painting would have taken weeks rather than days. A cherry picker was used to allow the artist to paint high on the building.

Natalia Rak – Love is in the Air (2015)

The next two paintings are both from the year 2015. Love is in the Air is in Duneden, New Zealand. It is the only Rak painting I have seen in which a word spoken by a character is painted. Adventure Time is in Providence, Rhode Island. It reminds me of Magic Book, in both paintings a girl in darkness opens something to discover a fantasy world.

Natalia Rak – Adventure Time (2015)

Countryside Girl is an ordinary girl with no element of fantasy, but like Rak’s other paintings, it demonstrates the artist’s wonderful ability to capture a facial expression. Countryside Girl is in Montreal, Quebec.

Natalia Rak -Countryside Girl (2016)

Natalia Rak’s web page is here, and her Behance page is here.

Speer’s Khoikhoi Girls

Speer – Young Hottentot Girls (circa1910)

This photo appears in at least two early 20th century books: Das Weib bei den Naturvolkern : eine Kulturgeschichte der Primitiven Frau by Ferdinand Freiherr von Reitzenstein (c1928), and Woman : an Historical, Gynæcological and Anthropological Compendium by Hermann Heinrich Ploss, Maximilian Bartels,Paul Bartels, and Eric John Dingwall (1935). The second book, by Ploss et al, is based on Das Weib in der Natur- und Völkerkunde : Anthropologische Studien by Dr. H. Ploss (1885), but the photo of the Khoikhoi girls is not in the 1885 book. It should be noted that for all of these books, not all editions have the same photographs.

The first book is in German, and the second is in English. Captions in both German and English identify the girls as “Hottentots”. In researching the background of this photo I read that many today consider the term Hottentot to be derogatory, and prefer the term Khoikhoi. Therefore I used Khoikhoi in the title of this article, but for the sake of historical accuracy I have retained Hottentot in the caption. In America the Khoikhoi would be considered Black, but they are racially distinct from other Black people in Africa.

Ploss et al and the Baron von Reitzenstein both attribute the photograph to Speer. Neither book contains any more information about Speer. Ploss has another photograph from Speer, of the girl on the left in the photo in this article. In that photo the girl is posed to focus attention on her genitals, and I did not think that photo would be acceptable for Pigtails. I do not know if Speer took any more photos in addition to those two. The photos may be from a book by Emil Speer, Zur Erinnerung an meine Dienstzeit beim Pferdedepot Sud S.W. Afrika Weihnachten 1911. Apparently Emil Speer was in the military in what was then German Southwest Africa and could be the Speer who took this photograph. I have not seen the book, so I do not know if it truly is the source of the photos. The homeland of the Khoikhoi includes Namibia, formerly German Southwest Africa.

The photo may be considered an anthropological contrivance, but it is definitely posed for an aesthetic purpose. From what I have seen of books from the early 20th century, nude photographs were more respectable then, and may not have needed a contrivance.

Drawings by Luc-Olivier Merson

Nicolas Luc-Olivier Merson was born in Paris in 1846. His father was a painter, and Luc-Olivier followed his father in becoming an artist. He studied in France and Italy, and was awarded several honors and commissions. He was a leading painter of the Classicism school, adhering to traditional styles. Merson’s designs for currency and postage stamps were accepted by the French government. Merson was awarded the Legion of Honor for his contributions to French art.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Étude de Figures (undated)

Most of the figures in Merson’s paintings are adults. Male children are often portrayed as cherubs, but they are painted with a very effeminate appearence. The first of Merson’s work shown in this post does not have any girls in it, but I hope Ron will allow it because it is an example of how Merson made illustrations of boys that look like girls. In many of his paintings, the cherub’s sex is concealed by the pose or drapery. In this illustration the male genitals are visible, but are small and seem to have been added as an afterthought.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Fillette Nue (undated)

I am reminded of a post in Pigtails here, about Eugene Delacroix. Delacroix used a female model for the infant Jesus, and Pip wrote, “There is also an argument to be made that he may have chosen a female purposely, since feminine children were already perceived as prettier and more graceful than masculine children by then…” In addition to Delacroix, the painter Eliseu Visconti and the sculptor Abastenia St. Leger Eberle used a female models to portray boys. I have a feeling that Merson may have also used female children as his models, even if they were portraying males.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Head of Boy Singing (undated)

The following two drawings are from different places on the internet. Fillette Nue (Naked Girl) is the title of the first. The second was titled in English Head of Boy Singing. It looks like the same model was used for both drawings. Was the model a boy or a girl?

Luc-Olivier Merson – Etude de Fillette Nue (undated)

Etude de Fillette Nue appears to be the same model as Fillette Nue and Head of Boy Singing. In this case, there is no doubt that the model was a girl. Note the similarity in the musculature of the legs and hair style. Note also a faint sketch of wings behind the figure. Apparently this figure was intended to be painted as a cherub. Since Merson tended to strictly follow classical conventions, his cherubs were male, even though the model may have been a girl.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Etude de Fillette (undated)

Opéra-Comique is a prestigious Paris opera company. Luc-Olivier Merson apparently created an artwork for Opéra-Comique, but I was only able to find this drawing that seems to be a preliminary sketch. Merson made many drawings (but not paintings) of children, including boys, girls, and those whose sex was indeterminate. Strangely, I was not able to find a painting (as opposed to a drawing) of a child that was definitely intended to be a girl.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Etude Pour L’Opera Comique (undated)

Young Girl is a drawing, but it is not strictly monochrome; it was drawn with red chalk and black pencil.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Fillette Nue Debout de Trois-Quarts à Droite (undated)

Le Pas De Danse (The Dance Step) and Young Naked Girl illustrate the graceful sense of movement that typifies Merson’s art. Étude de Face de Fillette Nue Debout and Young Naked Girl both appear to be holding something, but it is not clear what it is.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Young girl (undated)

Luc-Olivier Merson – Le Pas De Danse (undated)

Luc-Olivier Merson – Young Naked Girl (undated)

Luc-Olivier Merson – Étude de Face de Fillette Nue Debout (undated)

Nancy Coonsman Hahn and Mrs. Kincaid’s Fountain

Nancy Coonsman was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1887. She studied art at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and finally as a student of Abastenia St. Leger Eberle in New York. When she married Emanual Hahn in 1918, she was one of the most celebrated sculptors in America. Her most prestigious works are the World War I memorials in Cheppy-Varennes-en-Argonne, France (1922) and Veterans Park in Memphis, Tennessee (1926).

Nancy Coonsman – Girls with Frogs (1915)

Earlier in her career she created some beautiful but less famous works, including a couple of fountains. She designed a fountain with cherubs for the Mullanphy Floral Shop in St. Louis, and another for Randolph Laughlin’s new home, “Lachlin,” (built 1907–1912). A little girl from St. Louis was the model for Randolph Laughlin’s fountain. I have not been able to find an image of either of these fountains.

Nancy Coonsman Hahn’s best-known fountain is the Margaret R. Kincaid Fountain in St. Louis, Missouri, dedicated in 1915. Margaret R. Kincaid made a bequest to the City of St. Louis to build a fountain in a public park in the city. Mrs. Kincaid stipulated that the artist designing the fountain must be a woman. A competition was held, and Nancy Coonsman won. Ms. Coonsman proposed the design shown in the first illustration. The two girls would have been surrounded by frogs, and water would have been sprayed from the frogs onto the girls. Wikipedia gives the date of Frogs and Girls as 1897. Apparently this date is given because the picture is from International Studio Magazine, which says on the cover that it was entered as second class matter with the post office in 1897. Nancy Coonsman was ten years old in 1897; the edition of International Studio Magazine with the photo is from about 1919.

Nancy Coonsman – Margaret R. Kincaid Fountain (1915)

Surprisingly, the proposed design resulted in considerable outrage. The Women’s Protective League and the local newspaper protested. The Union Trust Company, custodian of the bequest, rejected the design. The nudity was not acceptable. Coonsman was irritated at having to make a new design for the fountain. I would have thought that after the uproar over her original design, the new fountain would be designed without nudity. Coonsman felt otherwise, and submitted the design shown in the second photo, with naked children dancing around the fountain. Perhaps because the children were younger, perhaps because they were in bas-relief, or maybe for another reason, the second design was approved.

The city and the Union Trust Company should have expected nudity; why were they shocked by the first design? I don’t know if there were any nude figures in the other two Coonsman fountains in the St. Louis area, but one featured cherubs, who are conventionally portrayed nude. Other great sculptors of the time were creating fountains with nude young girls, including Water Lily (c1913) by Bessie Potter Vonnoh, Seaweed Fountain (1914) by Janet Scudder, and At Water’s Edge (1914) by Edward Berge. It seems that people sponsoring a competition for sculptors should be familiar with what sculptors are doing.

What if these people with the task of approving the design were not familiar with the world of art? This contest happened in 1915, the year of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which made nude sculptures familiar to everyone who read the newspaper. Many of the Panama-Pacific statues (three-fifths according to the Richmond [Virginia] Times-Dispatch) were modeled by America’s first supermodel, Audrey Munson. In addition to being an artist’s model in real life, she played the part of an sculptor’s model in the movie Inspiration, which was one of two movies with nudity released in 1915. No copy of the movie is known to exist today, but we know from reviews that there were explicit nude scenes in Inspiration. Local news around the nation reported the controversy about whether the movie should be shown in their city, and which if any scenes should be cut. Even somebody who followed only the local news in 1915 should have been well aware that sculptors used nude models. My reason for mentioning these things is to show that everybody should have expected nudity in the fountain design in 1915. If they didn’t want it, they should have told Nancy Coonsman up front instead of making her redesign it.

Note the concrete bench in the background of the approved fountain, The bench, with the little elves sitting beneath it, was also designed by Coonsman.

Girls of the Naga Hills

The Naga Hills of northeastern India and adjacent parts of Myanmar (Burma) are the home of several ethnic groups that collectively call themselves Naga. Pigtails has published several articles on ethnographic photos and ethnographic contrivances, and such photos are fairly common from the Americas, Africa, Australia, and the Pacific. Not as many are found from east Asia, perhaps because girls in that region are usually clothed as completely as girls in the Western world. Naga girls were an exception. Several ethnologists have published works on the Naga people. At least two of them, Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf and John Henry Hutton, have photographed quite a few posed portraits of girls.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf – Two Girls Standing in front of a House (1936-37)

Of the twelve photos in this article, eleven are by Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf and only one was taken by John Henry Hutton. The reason is that the best quality photographs that I could find are those of von Fürer-Haimendorf. Von Fürer-Haimendorf first visited the Naga in 1936; his last expedition to the Naga Hills was in 1970. He took over 10,000 photographs, many of which are online at University of London SOAS.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf – Two Small Girls on a Platform (1936-37)

John Henry Hutton documented the lives of the Naga in the 1913 to 1928 period. Neither he nor von Fürer-Haimendorf were artists in the strictest sense, but both seemed to try to pose models for an aesthetically pleasing photograph. Judged by their artistic merit, I believe that Hutton’s photos are at least equal and probably superior to von Fürer-Haimendorf’s. Unfortunately, the Hutton photographs available at the University of Cambridge Digital Himalaya project are low quality.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf – Procession of Girls Carrying Wood (1936-37)

Two Girls Standing in front of a House is the first photo in this article. Note that the most necessary adornment for the prepubescent girl consists of necklaces and earrings. Postpubescent females, like the one on the left, almost always wear at least a skirt in Naga photos I have seen. Von Fürer-Haimendorf posed his models well; I like the contrast between the folded arms of the woman and the elbows out posture of the girl. I think it would have been better if he had not cropped the photo at the ankles; it makes it look like their feet were cut off.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf – Two Girls, One with Curly Hair (1936-37)

Two Small Girls on a Platform also has a problem with cropping. The girl on the left has the top of her head cut off. Other than that, it is a very nice picture. I like the expression of the girl on the left; it looks like she is trying not to laugh. There are some small black dots on the right side of this photo as it appears at University of London SOAS. Although both girls are quite young, one is fully clothed. The photos I have seen indicate that as a general rule children go naked and adults are clothed, but there are exceptions to that rule.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf – Naked Young Girl with Necklace (1936-37)

Procession of Girls Carrying Wood is, in my opinion, a well composed picture. If a painter were to copy one of the photos in this article, Procession of Girls Carrying Wood might be his best choice. They are carrying a lot of wood, but do not appear to be overburdened. The girl on the left wears a very small skirt. These minimal skirts are common in photos of young women and teenage girls.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf – Untitled (1936-37)

Naga people usually have straight hair. When von Fürer-Haimendorf found an individual with curly hair, he found it to be noteworthy. He found three curly-haired Nagas, two men and one girl, whom he photographed. Photos of the men are both head and shoulders portraits, while the picture of the girl is full length. Both girls in Two Girls, One with Curly Hair are at the age when girls are most often depicted wearing skirts, but only one has a skirt in this photo. It’s a good image, even though the subjects are poorly centered.

J.H. Hutton – Untitled (1913-28)

Young girl with Necklace is a simple yet pleasing photo. It is well-centered and well-cropped. However, the image is appealing more for the beauty of the model than the skill of the photographer.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf – Row of Girls Dancing in Festive Attire on a Platform (1936-37)

The next photo is the only image by von Fürer-Haimendorf that is untitled, and the only one of his in this article that is from University of Cambridge Digital Himalaya project. Like the previous photo, it is well-centered and well-cropped. I find the pensive attitude of the model intriguing.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf – Three Little Girls (1936-37)

The next photo, by J. H. Hutton, is also from University of Cambridge Digital Himalaya project. The style is much like von Fürer-Haimendorf’s, even the cropping off of the girls’ feet.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf – Small Girl with Bamboo Fibres in Her Hand (1936-37)

Row of Girls Dancing in Festive Attire on a Platform is another example of von Fürer-Haimendorf’s method of centering his subject. There is plenty of empty space on the left, but the dancer on the right is only half visible in the image. The dancers wear “festive attire”, and are therefore more dressed than most other girls in these images. The robes of the girls on the right are open, and it appears that their fancy dress is for ornamentation rather than concealment.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf – Three small girls on a platform (1936-37)

The last four photos are of younger girls. That last is one of von Fürer-Haimendorf’s few color photographs. Note that the middle girl in Three Little Girls wears only earrings. Maybe she is not as rich as the other girls who have necklaces, or maybe it is just because she is younger. Little Naga girls have short hair, while the older girls wear their hair longer.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf – Little Girl – Colour Photograph (1936-37)

Manon Gropius, the Muse

The Wikipedia entry for Manon Gropius lists her occupation as “muse”. It was not an occupation for which she was paid, but she did inspire works of music, literature, and sculpture.

Anonymous – Manon Gropius as a Baby (1917)

Alma Manon Anna Justina Carolina Gropius (nickname Mutzi) was born in Vienna, Austria in 1916. She was the daughter of Walter Gropius and  Alma Schindler Mahler Gropius. Manon’s father, Walter Gropius, was one of the outstanding architects of the 20th century, and the founder of the Bauhaus school of art. Manon’s mother, Alma Gropius, was a composer, diarist, and socialite. Alma Gropius was an attractive woman known for a scandalous life of adulterous affairs and multiple divorces. Alma began an affair with poet Franz Werfel in 1917. Werfel was the father figure during Manon’s childhood.

Anonymous – Manon Gropius, Anna Mahler on Right, and Two Others (1917)

Manon’s parents separated when Manon was two years old. Her early childhood was spent traveling between her mother’s three homes, two in Austria and one in Italy. She was short-tempered as a young child. At age five Manon decided that she wanted to be an actress, and that was her goal for the rest of her life. Alma was quite proud of her daughter Manon’s beauty, and she allowed Manon to go naked as much as possible.

Anonymous – Manon, Grandmother Anna Sophie Moll, Sister Anna Mahler in Venice (1922)

Manon mellowed as she entered puberty. She developed an interest in religion. Although she had been baptized as a Protestant, Manon felt that the Catholic concept of spirituality was more compatible with her. In 1932 she converted to Catholicism. Manon’s kindness, innocence, and beauty made a deep impression on people. The author Elias Canetti described 16-year old Manon as “an angelic gazelle”.

Anonymous – Manon Gropius Naked (c1923)

Canetti considered Manon to be the opposite of her mother Alma. Alma, in Canetti’s opinion, viewed Manon as just another trophy of which to boast; like Alma’s expensive possessions, and the many men with whom she slept. As Alma aged her ability to manipulate men with her beauty waned. Alma apparently hoped to continue to manipulate men, at least vicariously, through her beautiful daughter Manon. Manon, however, was developing into a very gentle, non-manipulative young lady.

Anonymous – Manon, Franz-Werfel, Alma Werfel in Venice (1924)

Franz Werfel seems to have had a deep platonic love and respect for his stepdaughter Manon. He compared her to saints, especially to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron of animals. This was because Manon had a remarkable affection for animals. Manon loved animals, and animals loved her. It is normal for a girl to love her pet cat, as Manon did, but Manon’s empathy with animals extended much farther. Domestic dogs and cats that did not know Manon would follow her. She could approach wild animals that normally fear people. Her affection was not only for cute animals like dogs and cats, but even included snakes.

Anonymous – Walter Gropius and his Daughter Manon Gropius at Dessau (1927)

In the spring of 1934 Manon caught polio in Venice, Italy. She started to recover to an extent, but other complications arose, and she was in poor health for the rest of her short life. She died a year later on Easter Monday 1935. She was eighteen.

Anonymous – Manon Gropius and her Cat (1932)

Franz Werfel and composer Alban Berg were both at Manon’s funeral, and both vowed to memorialize her in art. Berg had been working on an opera at the time of Manon’s death. He quit working on the opera and switched to composing a violin concerto in memory of Manon. He completed the concerto Dem Andenken eines Engels (In Memory of an Angel) before he died on Christmas Eve, 1935. Critics of classical music consider Berg to be one of the great composers of the 20th century, and Dem Andenken eines Engels is considered to be his greatest work. An article in Pigtails about Gilbert O’Sullivan’s muse Clair Mills provoked controversy due to differing interpretations of the lyrics expressing love for Clair. Dem Andenken eines Engels uses programmatics in the music, rather than lyrics, to express love for Manon, and has not aroused any controversy of which I am aware.

Anonymous – Manon Gropius on a CD Cover for Berg’s Violin Concerto (no date)

Werfel took longer to write his novel as a tribute to Manon. In 1935 he planned a novel about a fictional 17th century saint, but it was still only a plan in 1940. By that time Europe was at war, and Werfel was among the refugees fleeing to neutral Spain. On the journey to Spain he stopped at the French village of Lourdes. There he heard the story of the teenage girl, St. Bernadette Soubirous, who in 1858 encountered the Virgin Mary at a grotto near the village. Werfel changed his plan from a novel about a fictional saint to a novel about a real saint, and completed writing Das Lied von Bernadette in 1941. Das Lied von Bernadette is what we would now call a historical narrative; the main events and characters are real, but details and conversations have been added to give the characters a personality and make them seem alive to the reader. The personality given to St. Bernadette is that of Manon Gropius. Das Lied von Bernadette was translated into English as Song of Bernadette in 1942, and was number one on the New York Times best seller list for thirteen weeks. Song of Bernadette was released as a movie in 1943.

Manon Gropius has also been memorialized in literature in the Nobel Prize winning memoirs of Elias Canetti. Canetti devotes two chapters of his memoirs to Manon. Manon’s World : A Hauntology of a Daughter in the Triangle of Alma Mahler, Walter Gropius and Franz Werfel by James Reidel (2021) is another novel about Manon Gropius.

Manon’s half sister Anna Mahler sculpted a statue of a young woman holding an hourglass for Manon’s gravestone. This statue was destroyed by bombing during the war, before it was ready to be placed on Manon’s grave.  After the war Manon’s father, Walter Gropius, designed the Bauhaus style marker currently on Manon’s grave.

Slavica Janešlieva’s Cut-Out Paper Pioneer Doll Kit

Slavica Janešlieva was born in 1973 in Skopje, which was then in the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, one of six republics that were united in Yugoslavia. Skopje is now in the independent Republic of North Macedonia. In 1998 Janešlieva earned a master’s degree from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Skopje. In 2011 she became a professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts, at the University of St. Cyril and Methodius. Her art has been displayed in exhibitions and museums around the world.

Slavica Janešlieva – Cut-Out Paper Pioneer Doll Kit (2006)

Slavica Janešlieva spent her childhood in a relatively stable, though authoritarian country. The government of Yugoslavia tried to encourage the people to accept diversity. Even though the Yugoslav ethnicities had traditionally been enemies, it was hoped they could learn to live and work together in harmony. During the Cold War, Yugoslavia was not aligned with either NATO or the Warsaw Pact. As a result, both the United States and the Soviet Union sought the friendship of Yugoslavia. In the 1990s, the dream of different peoples living together in a peaceful stable country came to an end.

Anonymous – Slavica Janešlieva as a Child – (circa1983)

I believe that to understand Cut-Out Paper Pioneer Doll Kit it is necessary to know some of this background information about the artist’s country. Yugoslav Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia until 1991. From 1991 through 2019 Skopje was in the Republic of Macedonia. Greece objected to the name, because a region in Greece is also called Macedonia. The name was changed in 2019 to the Republic of North Macedonia. The country could accurately be called West Bulgaria, because the ethnic Macedonians are Bulgarian. They may not have wanted to name their country West Bulgaria out of concern that Bulgaria would object or try to annex the country (which they did during World War II). Albanians are the second largest ethnic group in North Macedonia; there is antagonism between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians.

Perhaps Janešlieva has some nostalgia for the old Yugoslavia. Note the Pioneer Pledge to “love and cherish our homeland ‘my MBC’ and all its nationalities and ethnic groups.” Note also that the map of the Make Believe Country is a map of the former Yugoslavia. The doll’s nudity implies a vulnerability. A real paper doll has clothing that can be cut out to fit on the doll. In this work, the blouse, pantyhose, and shoes could not fit the doll.

Cut-Out Paper Pioneer Doll Kit was exhibited at the Bitola Museum in Bitola, North Macedonia in 2015. It was part of the “In-First-Person” exhibit for self portraits of contemporary Macedonian artists. I don’t know if the girl is really from a childhood photo of Slavica Janešlieva. Here in the USA most people don’t have nude photos of themselves as children. It may be different in North Macedonia.

Barbara Bradley, Queen of the Perkies and Cuties

Barbara Bradley was one of the most popular illustrators of the 20th century, but her name is not well-known by the general public. Artists recognize her as one of their profession’s greatest. She was born in 1927 and developed an interest in drawing while still a child. In a 2008 interview for femaleillustrators.blogspot she said that she was influenced by comic artists Hal Foster and Milton Caniff. She drew the illustrations for her high school yearbook. After high school she attended college for seven years, but did not get a degree. Later she was awarded an honorary doctorate.

Barbara Bradley – Polly Pigtails (1951 – 1957)

In the early 1950s she was working as a professional illustrator. Bradley was well-known for her illustrations in Polly Pigtails’ Magazine for Girls. Below are three of Barbara’s illustrations featuring Polly Pigtails and her dog. She said that the dog was one of her best models.

Barbara Bradley – Polly Pigtails (1953)

Barbara Bradley – Polly Pigtails (1950s)

Bradley also worked for the Merrill Publishing Company. Four of her cover illustrations for Merrill children’s books are shown below. The books were for both boys and girls, and so a typical cover illustration included children of both sexes. However, Bradley’s main interest throughout her career was to draw girls. Barbara Bradley referred to herself as “Queen of the Perkies and Cuties”.

Barbara Bradley – Read Write Count Color (circa 1950s)

Barbara Bradley – Busy as a Bee (circa 1950s)

Barbara Bradley – Sound and Say (circa 1950s)

Barbara Bradley – Bobby and Betsy’s Easy Coloring (circa 1950s)

Advertising illustrations were another important part of Barbara’s work. Below are two of her advertising drawings. The Carter’s ad has a boy, a girl, and a dog. Note how often Bradley has animals in her drawings. The other illustration is for a Dole’s Pineapple advertisement. The style is entirely different than her other drawings, proving Bradley to be a very versatile artist.

Barbara Bradley – Carter’s Advertisement (circa 1950s)

Barbara Bradley – Dole Pineapple Hawaiian Kids (circa 1970)

Barbara Bradley – Two Girls (date unkown)

Barbara Bradley – Two Girls and Two Boys (date unkown)

The next two illustrations show a helpful sister, and girls getting attention from boys. I thought these illustrations were particularly effective in evoking a mood. The last picture is the cover of her book, Drawing People. This book has been acclaimed by artists as one of the best instruction manuals for drawing the clothed figure. When Bradley began the book she went at it as a perfectionist. Then her granddaughter was born, and the book occupied a much lower priority. Her book was published in 2003, and Barbara passed away five years later.

Barbara Bradley – Drawing People Cover(2003)

Františka Drtikol

Czechs seem to have a knack for photography. Rudolf Franz Lehnert and Jan Saudek have already been featured in Pigtails. Josef Větrovský may be the subject of a later article in Pigtails. These are not all of the famous Czech photographers, but they are some that included young girls in their work. For a country with a current population a little over 10 million, this is a remarkable concentration of photographic talent. This article is about some young girl photographs of the Czech photographer Františka Drtikol.

Františka Drtikol – Ervínka (no date)

Františka Drtikol was born in 1883. He studied photography in Munich as a teenager, and in 1901, at age 18, he opened his own studio in his native town of Pribram. In 1907 he moved to Prague. Drtikol began his career in the Art Nouveau style, and was an early advocate of Art Deco. Much of his work was of portraits and female nudes. Drtikol was an active photographer until 1935, when he abandoned photography for painting and study of Buddhist philosophy. Drtikol died in 1961.

Františka Drtikol – Ervínka Standing (1928)

Františka Drtikol’s daughter Ervínka was the model for some of his most expressive portraits. The first portrait of Ervínka is not dated, but was probably photographed about the same time as the next two, which are dated 1928. The fourth photo is titled Malá Ervínka (Little Ervínka), and appears to have been taken several years earlier. The fifth is a photo of Ervínka in an Art Nouveau style costume. It is titled Dcera Ervínka v Otcově Ateliéru (Daughter Ervínka in her Father’s Studio).

Františka Drtikol – Ervínka Sitting (1928)

Františka Drtikol – Malá Ervínka (no date)

The first nude of Ervínka Drtikol has a title that translates as Ervínka with Cubist Decorations. Františka Drtikol was into most of the avant-garde art movements, including cubism. The following photo is a New Year’s card and the title translates to Nude – Happy New Year.

Františka Drtikol – Dcera Ervínka v Otcově Ateliéru (no date)

Františka Drtikol – Ervínka s Kubistickými Dekoracemi (no date)

The last two photos in this article are an untitled nude, and one simply titled Nude Girl.

Františka Drtikol – Akt – Šťastný Nový rok (no date)

Františka Drtikol – Untitled (no date)

Františka Drtikol – Nude Girl (1928)