Mirrors from Laconia

Images or figures of young girls are not common in ancient Greek art. As the ancient Greeks saw things, adults were more important than children, and males were more important than females, and so adults, and especially males are more prevalent in Greek art of antiquity than are girls. Two exceptions to the rule are grave steles and the bronze mirrors made in Laconia in the 6th century BC. Mirrors were considered to be a typically female belonging, and are the origin of the female symbol ♀ .

Anonymous – Bronze Mirror (c 550 BC – 500 BC)

Laconia is a region in the southern part of the Peloponnese Peninsula. Sparta is the most famous city in Laconia. According to Agnes Bencze of the Department of Art History and Péter Pázmány of Catholic University in Budapest, small scale bronze working was an outstanding facet of ancient Laconian art. Bronze mirrors with handles in the shape of nude girls, often called caryatid mirrors, are characteristic of Laconia in the sixth century BC.

Anonymous – Bronze Mirror, back (c 550 BC – 500 BC)

The term caryatid is derived from the Laconian city Caryae. Pillars in the Temple of Artemis in Caryae are in the shape of women. It is believed that the figurines of girls that form the handles of carytid mirrors represent the nymphs that are the attendants of the goddess Artemis. The Temple of Artemis Orthia was one of the most important religious sanctuaries in ancient Sparta. The “Procession of the Girls” was one of the most ancient and revered ceremonies held at the Temple of Artemis Orthia. When pagan worship was suppressed in the fourth century AD, details of what occurred during the Procession of the Girls was lost.

The first mirror shown here is in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The girl is standing on a lion, and two griffins on her shoulders help support the mirror. The mirror is the disc above the girl’s head, which when new was highly polished bronze. In her left hand the girl holds something which might be a pair of cymbals.

In the next bronze figure, which is also from the Metropolitan Museum, the girl appears to be playing a pair of cymbals. Perhaps cymbals were used during the Procession of the Girls. The actual mirror and the animals or birds on the girl’s shoulders have been broken off and lost, but fortunately we still have the figurine of the girl. Unlike the other mirrors in which the girl stands on a lion, this figure is standing on a frog. Whatever may have been the reason for the lion or frog, the cymbals, and other features has been forgotten.

Anonymous – Bronze Mirror Support (c 540 BC – 530 BC)

Paul Cartledge used an image of the last mirror as the cover illustration for his book Spartan Reflections. This mirror was found at the Laconian town of Hermione. It is similar to the first, but instead of griffins on the girl’s shoulders, there are birds with human heads on the girl’s hair. She seems to have been holding something, now lost, in her left hand.

Anonymous – Bronze Mirror from Hermione (Sixth Century BC)

Kinder (Kids) by Judith Wagner

Judith Wagner was born in Vienna, Austria in 1973. She studied sculpture at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and earned her diploma in 1998. She is currently producing both sculpture and drawings. Subjects of her art include people, horses, and centaurs among other things. Most of her work has an abstract, even grotesque quality that can make me feel uneasy, but nevertheless I cannot deny its power. It is apparently the artist’s intention to challenge the viewer, to force him to see things in a new way. Wagner wrote, “The beautiful and the ugly, the abysmal and the sublime, heaven and hell, that is what people carry within them, layered on top of each other. Just as a plastic is created in layers, sometimes the lower layer can be felt through, sometimes the upper layer hides the lower one. That makes it exciting, that makes me pause and look in amazement. To represent that, to comprehend it in form, to make it visible and understandable is my concern.”

Judith Wagner – Kids (2015) (1)

Judith Wagner – Kids (2015) (2)

Kids, also titled in German Kinder, is the topic of this article. It differs from Wagner’s typical work in two ways. First, the subjects are children. Second, they are portrayed with a realism that is lacking in many of Wagner’s other sculptures and drawings. The stern expressions and the staring deep eyes are the most noticeable features of Kids that are common to Wagner’s art.

You can view more of Wagner’s art on her website.  When I enter the name Judith Wagner into a search engine, the first artist by that name that is found is another Judith Wagner that, coincidentally, also uses horses as a subject for her art.  They are not the same person, so don’t confuse the two.

Judith Wagner – Pink Kid (2015)

Judith Wagner – Blue Kid (2015)

Judith Wagner – Red Kid (2015)

Judith Wagner – Green Kid (2015)

The figures are life size; ranging in height from 4 feet 3 inches to 5 feet. Although the title is gender neutral, all four figures are girls. The original Kids of 2015 are painted resin. A second edition of Kids was made of white concrete in 2018.

Judith Wagner – Second Edition Kids (2018)

The model for the blue Kid is shown with Wagner’s abstract drawings of horses in the background.

Judith Wagner – Blue Kid and Model (2015)

Friedel Grieder

Ida Schweighauser became Friedel Grieder when she married Ernst Grieder in Switzerland in 1913. According to Wikipedia she not only changed her surname to Grieder, but also changed her given name from Ida to Friedel.  It was not explained why.  They had three children, one of whom died shortly after birth. The family lost their money during World War I. Friedel’s husband died in 1927, and their daughter Rösli died in 1929 when she was only 12 years old. In the same year Friedel Grieder, then age 39,entered into psychological treatment to cope with the tragedy in her life.

Friedel Grieder – Dreispitzpark Mädchen (no date) (1)

Friedel Grieder – Dreispitzpark Mädchen (no date) (2)

Her treatment included art therapy, and her talent was immediately evident.  She started sculpting, and created many sculptures of young children.  Two years later, in 1931, she opened her studio in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. Grieder taught and gave art therapy at a sanatorium in Kreuzlingen. Several of her works are on public display in Kreuzlingen. Dreispitzpark Mädchen sits in Dreispitzpark. Wehrlischulhaus Mädchen is by the military schoolhouse. Both portray a girl about 12 years old, the age at which Rösli Grieder died.  Friedel Grieder died in 1980 at age 89.

Friedel Grieder – WehrlischulhausMädchen (1952)

Edward Berge

Edward Henry Berge was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1876. He studied art first in Maryland then went to Paris and studied under Auguste Rodin. He returned to Baltimore and lived there until his death in 1924. Berge sculpted in both marble and bronze.

Edward Berge – Sea Urchin – (1921) (1)

Edward Berge – Sea Urchin – (1921) (2)

Edward Berge – Sea Urchin – (1921) (3)

Sea Urchin is a four-foot-tall statue of a girl standing on a sea urchin. It was sculpted in 1921 for a public fountain in Baltimore. Smaller editions were made, as shown in the second and third illustrations. In 1961 the Sea Urchin was replaced by a copy sculpted by Berge’s son, and the original was moved to Johns Hopkins University. Edward Berge had two sons who were also artists, and Edward’s father was a German gravestone carver.

Edward Berge – Wild Flower (1909) (1)

Edward Berge – Wild Flower (1909) (2)

Some of Berge’s finest work are his fountain statues of nude girls. Wildflower is one of his more famous. Originally cast life-size in 1909, subsequent editions were cast in 1916 and 1923. Professor Moses Slaughter purchased Wildflower in 1917 and donated it to the Madison Wisconsin Public Library in memory of his two daughters. Wildflower was placed in a pool fountain outside the library building. In the 1960s, the library was moved to a new location. Wildflower was moved to an indoor location on the second floor of the new library, and in 2015 it was moved again to the children’s room of the new library. Another copy of Wildflower is in Homeland Garden, Baltimore.

Edward Berge – Violet (c1916) (1)

Edward Berge – Violet (c1916) (2)

Violet is another sculpture that is similar to Wildflower. Three violets are in the girl’s hair. Violet was intended as a fountain, with water flowing from the girl’s hands.

Edward Berge – At Water’s Edge (1914)

At Water’s Edge differs from the other statues in this article in that it features a sitting girl. The serene expression on her face, however, is like the others.

Edward Berge – Poppy (1922) (1)

Edward Berge – Poppy (1922) (2)

Poppy represents a tiny wood nymph with a poppy on her head. Nymph on a Turtle (aka Will-o’-the-Wisp) is a water nymph on a turtle. This statue was featured in a previous article here.

Edward Berge – Nymph on a Turtle (date unknown)

The dates given for the sculptures in the captions are often the date from a particular example. When I could find the date a work was originally created, I used that date. Duck Mother is dated 1924. If that is the date of the original, it may be one of Berge’s last pieces.

Edward Berge – Duck Mother (1923)

Random Images: Admiring a Little Dancer

A reader submitted an interesting photo of two girls admiring a statue. The sculpture turned out to be a bronze casting of Edgar Degas’ (1834–1917) La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (The Little Dancer of Fourteen Years) originally sculpted in the early 1880s from an unusual combination of media. Beginning in 1920, bronze casts were made of this remarkable piece and now appear in various museums and private collections. This photograph was taken at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California. This casting was made sometime after 1936 and was acquired by the museum in early 1977.

Photographer Unknown – Two girls admiring Degas’ Dancer (after 1977) (monochrome)

For some reason, the monochrome form of this photograph was submitted. In the course of researching this image, the color version was also found.

Photographer Unknown – Two girls admiring Degas’ Dancer (after 1977) (color)

Ludmila Šechtlová, Model for a Photographer and a Sculptor

My language is English, so I initially had some confusion about the Czech names. The model’s legal first name is Ludmila, but in the titles for the photographs she is called Lída, Lidy, Liduška, and Lidušky. These photo titles are from the Šechtl & Voseček Museum site, operated by the Šechtl family, so I have no doubt that they are correct. Lída is a diminutive nickname for Ludmila. Ludmila’s grandfather originally spelled the family surname as “Schächtl”, the German form of the name. Later he began using the Czech spelling “Šechtl”. The feminine of Šechtl is Šechtlová. J.V. Dušek is the most common form of the name of the sculptor for whom she modeled, but in three of the photo titles Lída is identified as the model of J.V. Duška. Dušek and Duška are different forms of the same name.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Rodinné, Liduška (1915)

Lída also modeled for her father, the renowned photographer Josef Jindřich Šechtl. Josef Jindřich’s father, Ignác Schächtl, opened his photography studio in 1876 in the town of Tábor, now in the Czech Republic. Schächtl Studio became Schächtl & Voseček when Jan Voseček became a partner, and later it became Šechtl & Voseček Studio. Josef Jindřich Šechtl operated the studio after the death of his father in 1911. Photos from the Šechtl & Voseček Studio of another model, Eva Záhořová, were featured on Pigtails here.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Lída Šechtlová (1919)

Josef Jindřich was one of the outstanding photographers of his time. He was known for his use of light and shadow in his photographic art. Photographs of women and children, and photos documenting the history of Tábor were his specialties. (The historical photos would later get his son sent to prison.) Josef Jindřich married Anna Stocká in 1911 and their daughter, Ludmila Šechtlová was born in 1912. Anna, like Josef, was artistically inclined. The two were friends with other artists, including the sculptor Jan Vítězslav Dušek, who was also a resident of Tábor.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Liduška (1919)

Many childhood photographs of Ludmila may be found on the Šechtl & Voseček Museum site. A few are included in this post. The first photo is of Ludmila at age two or three. The new clothing, willow branches, rabbit figurine and artificial egg indicate that this was an Easter portrait of Ludmila. Rodinné means “family”, and Liduška could either be her nickname or a Czech word for a human. Ludmila was six or seven when the next two photographs were taken.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Lída Šechtlová, model pro J.V.Duška (1921) (1)

The last five photographs of Ludmila in this article, all nudes, were taken in 1921, when Ludmila was eight or nine. In three of these five photos, she is proudly named as the model for J.V. Duška. She was also the daughter of the photographer, but perhaps it was more prestigious to say that she was the model for a famous sculptor. In the first of these Ludmila is posed between two stands; her pigtails are supported by one stand and her hands by the other. I get the idea, but I am not sure of this, that the stands would allow her to hold a pose for a longer time when modeling for a sculptor. She appears to me to be a bit like the girl on the banner illustration for Pigtails in Paint. The other four nude photos show her posing without any props. Several other photographs like these, with only minor variations to her pose, are in the Šechtl & Voseček Museum.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Lída Šechtlová model pro J.V.Duška (1921) (2)

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Lída Šechtlová,model pro J.V.Duška (1921) (3)

The last illustration in this article is a photograph of a statue modeled by Ludmila Šechtlová, sculpted by Jan Vítězslav Dušek, and photographed by David Peltán. The statue of a girl holding a beehive is titled Spořivost, which means thrift. Dušek created this statue for the Tábor Savings Bank. Dušek was one of the most prominent Czech sculptors. He is famous for his monuments, portraits, and for his competition as an artist in the 1924 and 1936 Olympic Games.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Akt Lidušky (1921)

Spořivost portrays Ludmila as slightly older than she appears in the photographs in which she is identified as “model pro J.V.Duška”. There may be another statue of Ludmila by Dušek, made when Ludmila was younger, but in searching for Dušek’s works on the internet, I could not find it.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Akt Lidy Šechtlové (1921)

Josef Jindřich Šechtl died in 1954, and Ludmila’s brother Josef Šechtl inherited the family business. In 1957 the Communist government of Czechoslovakia put Josef Šechtl in prison for a year and confiscated his belongings. The excuse was that he photographed a wedding without obtaining the correct government permit, but the probable real reason was that some people in the Communist Party in 1957 had been supporters of the National Socialist Workers (Nazi) Party during World War II. They believed that the historical photographs documenting Tábor during the war could be embarrassing if the photos gave evidence that they were Nazis, and therefore wanted to confiscate and destroy them. Josef Šechtl’s wife, Marie Šechtlová, was able to save some of the most important negatives, but the majority were lost. It is sad to contemplate what may have been in the art that was destroyed.

Jan Vítězslav Dušek – Spořivost (c1925)

Girls on Turtles

The first illustration in this article is Will O’The Wisp located at the end of the Colonnade Garden at Oakhurst in Muncie, Indiana. The sculpture shows a girl standing on the back of a snapping turtle. According to visitmuncie.org, the back of the shell is signed, “Edward Borse, Sc, Gorham Co., GFC Foundries.” The statue is owned by Ball State University. I am assuming that “Sc” is an abbreviation for “sculptor” and that Gorham Co. is the Gorham Manufacturing Company of Providence, Rhode Island. A will o’the wisp is a glow in the air over marshy ground that disappears when approached, and is used metaphorically to mean a goal that cannot be achieved.

Edward Berge – Will O’The Wisp (no date)

When I saw the photograph of this statue, I searched for more information about the statue or the sculptor, but could find nothing.  After this article was published I discovered that the attribution to Edward Borse is an error; the actual sculptor is Edward Berge.  The caption has been corrected.

Some general information about works of art with girls or women standing on turtles was found. Phidias (circa 480 – 420 BC) may have been the first sculptor to create a statue of a female standing on a turtle. His gold and ivory statue of the goddess Aphrodite depicts her with one foot on a small turtle. Plutarch (circa AD 46 – after 119) commented on the statue, and wrote that because a turtle is always at home in its shell, and has no voice, it represents the ideal woman who always remains at home and does not speak. Apparently Plutarch was not a feminist. This interpretation of the turtle is suspect because Aphrodite was a sexually adventurous goddess, the opposite of a quiet homebody. Others have speculated that the turtle may have been used sarcastically. I find the statue Aprodite with a small turtle under one foot reminiscent of statues of the Virgin Mary with a small serpent under one foot. Just as these statues of Mary represent her victory over the evil represented by the serpent, perhaps Phidias’ statue is meant to show Aphrodite crushing underfoot the stereotype for the “ideal woman” represented by the turtle.

Unknown – Illustration from On the Excellence of the Female Sex (1643)

Plutarch’s interpretation seems to have influenced later artists, and it is common to find depictions that were created during the Renaissance and later, through the 18th century, of women on turtles. The example shown here is an illustration from On the Excellence of the Female Sex by Johan van Beverwijck. Now it is obvious that the woman is not trampling on the turtle, but rather is riding it. In this illustration from 1643 the female on the turtle is still an adult, but in later examples of this motif it is usually a child on the turtle. Some modern statues show a boy on a turtle, but a girl is more common.

Beatrice Fenton – The Artist and Seaweed Fountain (circa 1920)

Beatrice Fenton – Seaweed Fountain at Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina (circa 1920)

Seaweed Fountain by Beatrice Fenton is one of the most famous statues of a young girl on a turtle. Beatrice Fenton (1887 – 1983) was one of the outstanding American sculptors of the early 20th century. Fenton was awarded the George D. Widener Memorial Gold Medal in 1922 for Seaweed Fountain.  Mary Wilson Wallace was the model for Seaweed Fountain; she was six years old when she posed for it.

Unknown – Girl Standing on a Turtle (no date)

Girl Standing on a Turtle was for sale at the Chamberlain Auction Gallery in 2020. This 57-inch high bronze scupture is a fountain; water comes out of the shell the girl holds, and also out of the turtle’s mouth.

Unknown – Tortoise Shell Express (no date)

Tortoise Shell Express is a cast stone statue sold by Garden-Fountains. Strangely, the sculptor is not named. The girl stands on a land tortoise. Seaweed Fountain and Girl Standing on a Turtle are both sea turtles, and Will O’The Wisp is a fresh water snapping turtle. I cannot identify the species of turtle in Illustration from On the Excellence of the Female Sex, but apparently it makes no difference.

Oskar Bottoli – Mädchen auf einer Schildkröte (1954)

Mädchen auf einer Schildkröte is a stone sculpture by Oskar Bottoli and is on display in Vienna, Austria. The girl sits on a land tortoise.

Statues by Kjeld Moseholm

Kjeld Moseholm-Jørgensen (aka Kjeld Moseholm) was born in Denmark in 1936. He is one of Denmark’s most famous sculptors, with his art exhibited in public places in Denmark and in other countries. Moseholm’s style is usually abstract. His figures are often bulbous, lending his work a touch of comedy. Nevertheless, there is a melancholic aspect to his sculpture. His abstract figures are often in strange postures or situations.

Kjeld Moseholm – Anette (1994)

The five works covered in this post are different from Moseholm’s typical work in two ways. First, each includes a young girl. Second, they are realistic figures in realistic poses. The Moseholm realistic statues I have seen are all females, usually nudes, or are a group of statues that contains a female. Perhaps he thought that the female figure is very aesthetically pleasing in a lifelike representation, and there was no way to improve on it with abstraction.

Kjeld Moseholm – Annette at Rudkøbing (1994)

Anette or Annette is peculiar in that two examples of the statue have slightly different names. The first image is of Anette in the city park Borås, Sweden. The second image, Annette, is on the grounds of the church in Rudkøbing, Denmark. I could not find information about the model for this statue. Where I live, in the US, it probably would not be acceptable to have a statue of a nude girl on the grounds of a church.

Kjeld Moseholm – Barn på Gungbräda (1992)

Barn på Gungbräda (Children on a Seesaw) is also in the city park Borås, Sweden. Moseholm sculpted many female nudes, but sometimes made statue pairs with both a boy and a girl, as in Barn på Gungbräda.

Kjeld Moseholm – Børn (1976)

The statues pair titled Børn (Children) is on display by the Nordea Bank in Assens, Denmark.

Kjeld Moseholm – Kommunikation (1989)

Most of the Moseholm girl statues I found are nudes, but the next one is an exception. The group includes a boy wearing shorts, a girl wearing a short dress, and a pigeon. The girl is writing; the boy is reading, and the pigeon may be a carrier pigeon. The group is titled Kommunikation (Communication), and is at the Post Office in Ringe, Denmark.

Kjeld Moseholm – Siddende Pige (1988)

Sitting Girl, aka Siddende Pige, aka Fille Sur Une Chaise is another popular statue with a simple pose. The first photo shows this statue in the garden behind the Slagelse, Denmark library. The next photo is of the statue in a public park in Monaco. The statue was installed in Monaco in 1981, and in Slagelse in 1988.

Kjeld Moseholm – Fille Sur Une Chaise (1981)

Public Sculpture of Girls in Hungary

László Marton – Little Princess (1) (1972)

Public sculpture of girls in Hungary (Magyar Republic) has something of a family-oriented perspective. Little Princess (Kiskirálylány) by László Marton is a statue of the sculptor’s oldest daughter, Évike. Marton said,

I modeled it after my own daughter; she was maybe six years old and playing in the garden. She dressed as a princess: laid a bathrobe on her shoulders and put a [paper] crown on her head. I managed to capture this moment and immediately felt that this was a successful work of art. Years later, the capital requested a statue from me. I immediately thought of the “Little Princess'” and luckily we managed to find the place where the statue feels good.

László Marton – Little Princess (2) (1972)

Actually, there are several places in which this statue “feels good”. The original statuette is in the Hungarian National Gallery. The life-size copy shown in the photos here is on the Danube promenade in Budapest. Another copy is in the artist’s hometown of Tapolca, and yet another is in Japan, in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space cultural center’s concert hall.

Raffay Dávid – A Girl With Her Dog (1) (c2007)

The next statue, A Girl With Her Dog, is also in Budapest near Little Princess. A Girl With Her Dog was created by Raffay Dávid. Both of Raffay Dávid’s parents were sculptors, and Raffay has been sculpting since he was three years old. By the time he was 48 years old, in 2011, he was the father of five children. His affection for children seems to show in A Girl With Her Dog.

Raffay Dávid – A Girl With Her Dog (2) (c2007)

The next statue, Little Girl With Dog, is also a girl and dog, but I could not find out the name of the artist that created this piece. It stands in the city of Szeged.

Unknown Artist – Szeged Hungary Little Girl With Dog (unknown date)

The city of Esztergom is the site of the statue of children playing on a rail. I do not know the creator of this sculpture, nor could I find the title of the statue.

Unknown Artist – Esztergom, Hungary Children (unknown date)

Böjte Horváth István created War Memorial, the last sculpture in this article. It is a memorial to the veterans from Vácrátót who lost their lives in the two World Wars. Typical of Hungarian sculpture, it emphasizes the family. The wife, daughter, and infant child of the deceased veteran are shown, but the husband/father of them is missing.

Böjte Horváth István – Vácrátót War Memorial (2014)

Random Images: Emanuele Caroni

A reader shared this image presented in a Sotheby’s auction. Since Pip was more familiar with the use of mythological characters in art, I discovered that he had already given me the same lead a while back. You can see other angles to this sculpture using the link above.

Emanuele Caroni (b1826)  worked in Milan as the student of Vincenzo Vela and subsequently in Florence under Lorenzo Bartolini. He was politically involved in Italy’s 1848 struggle against the Austrians before settling permanently in Florence. The medium with which he showed exceptional skill was marble and a number of his works are now in prized collections. He combined the subject of a child with animals at least one other time in Triumph of Love over Force which depicts Cupid seated on a large, docile lion.

Emanuele Caroni – Leda and the Swan (1875)

In the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan, Zeus, in the form of that majestic bird, either rapes or seduces Leda, and she was impregnated with twins. It is common with classical painters to depict Leda in mid-coitus with the swan (one of the few examples of classic art where it was permitted to do so) or with her four children, usually with the broken eggshells of Zeus’s offspring. According to Pip, Caroni’s choice to depict Leda as a prepubescent girl with the swan between her legs was unusual for the time and seems mildly shocking today. But it isn’t exactly unprecedented to depict Greek and Roman mythic characters as children, complete with sexual subtext that most people of the time period would have been familiar with.