A Girl Playing Astragaloi

This is one of the earliest known works of art in which the sole subject is a little girl. There are older works—primarily ancient Egyptian wall art—that include girls as part of a family portrait, as well as some funerary stele for deceased Roman children that may be older, but this is a rare example of Greco-Roman art focusing on the young girl as a subject in her own right (though this piece too may have served as a memorial for a young daughter who had passed away), and that makes it particularly fascinating for lovers of girl art. The ancient Greeks and Romans of course created a lot of sculpture that captured the adult form—male and female—and occasionally young boys, but it seems girls were considered of very little interest to classical aesthetes.

The game she’s playing, astragaloi—sometimes called knucklebones—is one of the oldest known games in existence and provides us with the origin of the modern games of dice and jacks.  Although the game was called knucklebones, it was usually played with the astragalus (ankle or hock) bones of sheep, hence the name.  The girl appears to be somewhere between ten and twelve years old and is probably upper class, perhaps the daughter of a senator.  Though the sculptor of this piece is not known, it has been dated to 150-200 CE and is known to have originated in Rome.  The original version is now housed in the Altes Museum in Berlin.

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (1)

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (2)

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (3)

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (4)

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (5)

Artist Unknown – A Girl Playing Astragaloi (ca. 150-200 CE) (6)

Now, here’s something really cool.  Sketchfab has a complete three-dimensional scan of this that you can spin around with your cursor and observe from any direction.  If only every other sculpture of interest to us had one of those!

Henri Émile Martinet

Here’s a lovely little Art Deco sculpture from Henri Émile Martinet. What I most love about this piece is the easy, unforced stance the little girl takes. There’s very little about Martinet on the web, but I do know he was a student of sculptor Charles Valton, and he became well-known in his lifetime for his sculptural portraits of early 20th century luminaries.

Henri Émile Martinet – Jeune fille nue debout (1930) (1)

Henri Émile Martinet – Jeune fille nue debout (1930) (2)

Henri Émile Martinet – Jeune fille nue debout (1930) (3)

Pioneering Female Photojournalism: Esther Bubley

Esther Bubley was a freelance photographer that was active from 1945 to 1965. Many of her images are highly valued as historical documents as they cover a wide array of different social subjects. Mostly she photographed people going about their everyday lives, like workers and travellers on the American interstate bus network, children at play, medical workers and their patients or family life at home. She was remarkable as photo journalism was a male-dominated field at the time. So for a woman to be have an ongoing job in this field that also gave her a secure income was rare. Most images she made were not staged, which allowed her to take some truly intimate and natural photographs. The artist said she achieved this by becoming part of the daily rhythm of the hospital and disappearing into the background with her camera.

Esther Bubley - Children watching the animals at the National Zoological Park (1943)

Esther Bubley – Children Watching the Animals at the National Zoological Park (1943)

Esther Bubley - Children playing in a fountain in Dupont Circle (1943)

Esther Bubley – Children Playing in a Fountain in Dupont Circle (1943)

Esther Bubley (1921–1998) was born in Phillips, Wisconsin, the fourth of five children to Louis and Ida Bubley. She was inspired to start photography after viewing LIFE magazine and the Farm Security Administration (FSA) images of depression-era America. After high school, Esther spent two years at Superior State Teachers College then spent her third year at the Minneapolis School of Art where she studied photography.

In 1941 she moved to New York City to become a professional photographer and her first paid job was at Vogue where she photographed still-life images. Disliking this job, she moved to Washington D.C. where she found employment at the National Archives and spent her days making microfilm. Soon after, in the fall of 1942, Roy Stryker hired her as a darkroom assistant at the Office of War Information (OWI). During her spare time the artist made images of the daily events occurring in the Washington area. Her employer noticed the quality of these images and thought she would be able to add to the photo archives of the OWI. He hired her as a staff photographer and sent her on a six week journey across the country to document the lives of Americans during World War II. These photographs were then added to the OWI archives, which are now housed at the Library of Congress.

Esther Bubley - Spectators at the parade to recruit civilian defence volunteers (1943)

Esther Bubley – Spectators at the Parade to Recruit Civilian Defence Volunteers (1943)

Esther Bubley - Passengers standing in the aisle of a Greyhound bus (1943)

Esther Bubley – Passengers Standing in the Aisle of a Greyhound Bus (1943)

In late 1943, when Stryker left the government to set up a public relations project for Standard Oil Company (New Jersey) (SONJ), he brought with him many OWI workers, which included Bubley. Her work at SONJ was part of a huge photo-documentary project that had the aim of promoting the business and enhancing its reputation. Two of the artists’ best known projects come from this period. The first was a portrayal of the oil town of Tomball, Texas and the second, the “Bus Story,” which showcased the role of long-distance bus travel in American life that is accomplished through the use of oil products. Some images are now at the University of Louisville.

Esther Bubley - Children playing near schoolhouse, Tomball, Texas (1947)

Esther Bubley – Children Playing Near Schoolhouse, Tomball, Texas (1945)

Waiting room at bus terminal (1947)

Esther Bubley – Waiting Room at Bus Terminal (1947)

During this period she was briefly married to Edwin Locke, but they soon divorced. By 1947 Bubley’s work had expanded and she was now freelancing for several organisations. One of these organisations was the Children’s Bureau, a Federal child welfare agency. Over several years her images appeared in their journal, The Child, including more than thirty covers.

Esther Bubley - Child Monthley (Cover) (1947)

Esther Bubley – Child Monthly (Cover) (1949)

The following year, her work made its first appearance in a group exhibition called ‘In and Out of Focus’—her first of four appearances—at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). A magazine that she created a lot of images for was the Ladies’ Home Journal. There she produced a photo essay on mental illness, which was awarded a first prize in the Encyclopaedia Britannica/University of Missouri School of Journalism contest. The medically-themed photos continued when she was hired by the Pittsburgh Photographic Library to live in the Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital and document the activities within, a commission which took several months. Originally intended as a story in LIFE magazine, this was cancelled in favour of documenting the Queen Elizabeth II coronation. However, thirteen prints from this series were made publicly available when they were displayed in the exhibition ‘Diogenes with a Camera,’ held at MoMA. She also documented life at Blythedale Convalescent Home for Children, in New York, for the Children’s bureau. An example of this work is displayed below.

The artist’s most internationally recognised work appeared in 1953 when she was hired by UNICEF and the French government to travel to Morocco to photograph a program to treat trachoma. Over several months she travelled around Ouarzazate documenting people receiving medical treatment and the positive aspects of UNICEF’s work.

Esther Bubley - Esther Bubley's World of Children (1981) (1)

Esther Bubley – (Untitled) (1948)

Esther Bubley - African child (1953)

Esther Bubley – African Child (1953)

Bubley produced many other overseas photo projects, such as photographing the areas of Central and South America where Pepsi-Cola sold and manufactured their product. These images were then published in their corporate magazine Panorama, which was distributed to their bottlers and shareholders. Then in 1964 and ’65 Pan American World Airways sent her on a world tour to document the areas they serviced. These images were then published in their corporate magazine The Clipper, which was distributed to employees and shareholders.

Between 1950 and 1965 the photographer freelanced for many magazines; her stories focused on medicine, families and social issues. Many of her articles appeared in LIFE—two were cover stories. Additionally, she created a dozen photo stories for the Ladies’ Home Journal series ‘How America Lives,’ which ran intermittently between 1948 and 1960. The series was very popular and was expanded into two new series: ‘How Young America Lives,’ which profiled teenagers, and ‘Profiles on Youth,’ about children. Also of note during this decade was the appearance of several images in ‘The Family of Man’ exhibition.

Esther Bubley - LIFE (Cover) (1951)

Esther Bubley – LIFE (Cover) (1951)

Esther Bubley - Esther Bubley's World of Children (1981) (2)

Esther Bubley – (Untitled) LIFE magazine (1961)

Esther Bubley - Esther Bubley's World of Children (1981) (3)

Esther Bubley – (Untitled) Ladies’ Home Journal (1948)

After 1965 the artist reduced her workload, as the frequent travelling became tiring. Instead, she focused on projects of personal interest and photographed the New York area, where she lived. During this time she created a book featuring macro photography of plants, two books about pets and a book documenting 159 of her child photographs entitled Esther Bubley’s World of Children. Unfortunately the book doesn’t mention titles or dates for the images contained within. She died in New York City, of cancer, on March 16, 1998.

The website about Esther Bubley’s career contains a lot of information about the work she completed, though there are only about 200 images of average quality. Another book, which contains about thirty-six images by Bubley, appears on archive.org. Entitled ‘Your Child from 6 to 12,’ it is an interesting read detailing child care in 1949.

A Master of Lyon: Tony Tollet

Tony Tollet was a Lyon-based French painter who had one of the longest and most distinguished careers of his time. Born in 1857, he began his artistic career as a child when, bed-ridden because of illness, he began to produce drawings that impressed his father, who then encouraged him to take up art. In 1873, the 16-year-old Tollet did precisely that, taking up training at the École des beaux-arts de Lyon, where he would flourish under the tutelage of Jean-Baptiste Danguin and Michel Dumas. A mere six years later, he won the Prix de Paris, allowing him to further his education at the even more prestigious École des beaux-arts de Paris. Here he studied under such world-class painters as Alexandre Cabanel, Luc-Olivier Merson and Albert Maignan, and in Paris he also befriended the Flandrins, a well-established family of painters.

In 1885, he won the 2nd Prix de Rome for a piece entitled Themistocles in the Home of Admete (which I’ve not been able to track down on the internet). In 1889, with his mother growing ill, he returned to Lyon and here remained for the rest of his life, marrying Jeanne Pailleux, who bore him six children. He set up his own studio in Lyon where he painted the portraits of notable local personages and taught drawing in the municipality of Guillotière. He suffered a major setback in 1909, when his studio caught fire and was destroyed, along with all of the works contained therein. Luckily, this did not stop Tollet from starting over, and he continued to paint until 1942, well into his eighties by then. Having accomplished many honors and held several important official positions in Lyon, Tollet finally passed away in 1953, at the age of 95.

One of the artist’s most recognizable paintings is this portrait of the Bernard children, painted around 1920. This piece would of course be classified as Realism, but I feel there’s a nice balance here between the romanticism of the 19th century and the modernity of the 20th.

Tony Tollet - Portrait of the Bernard Family in Lyon (ca. 1920)

Tony Tollet – Portrait of the Bernard Family in Lyon (ca. 1920)

Unfortunately, I could never track down a color version of this piece. It is certainly a sweet painting, reminding me somewhat of the work of Mary Cassatt, though with more of a Victorian sensibility than Cassatt’s work tends to have.

Tony Tollet - Le secret

Tony Tollet – Le secret

Tony Tollet - Happy Children

Tony Tollet – Happy Children

And finally, my favorite of Tollet’s paintings, an allegorical work. The central subject of this piece is Flora, Roman goddess of flowers and springtime. Little girls, representing the springtime of human femininity, fit in nicely here.

Tony Tollet - Flore, symbole du Printemps

Tony Tollet – Flore, symbole du Printemps

Laurits Tuxen

Danish painter and sculptor Laurits Tuxen was a member of the Skagen Painters, a group of Scandinavian artists who met in Skagen, Denmark’s northernmost town (situated at the very tip of the Skagen Odde peninsula) during the last decades of the Victorian era. The set also included husband and wife teams Michael and Anna Ancher and Peder Severin and Marie Krøyer, as well as Viggo Johansen, Carl Locher and Christian Krohg. These artists generally preferred outdoor (en plein air) painting, for which the sparsely populated Skagen was ideal. Peder Severin Krøyer was unquestionably the group’s anchor. One of the most popular Danish artists of his time and a dashing, dynamic and magnetic figure, he will get his own post here eventually. But for now, back to Tuxen.

Laurits Tuxen was raised in Copenhagen, where he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In addition to being an early member of the Skagen Painters, Tuxen traveled quite a bit, painting landscapes and portraits, mainly of European and Russian royalty. His style was primarily Realist, though he also dabbled in Impressionism. The following piece falls pretty solidly into the first category, though there are Impressionistic touches here and there. The painting features three young girls in their tween to early teen years on a beach in Skagen, two of them nude. It’s not a particularly unusual painting for its time. In fact, what’s most fascinating about this piece for me is that a set of photographs were taken of this scene as it was being painted, an unusual occurrence for artists of the Edwardian era, for which photography was still a fairly cumbersome activity, though its popularity was growing by leaps and bounds. Anyway, here is the painting:

Laurits Tuxen - Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med figurer (1907)

Laurits Tuxen – Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med figurer (1907)

We also have quite a bit of historical data on this painting. The standing girl and the girl lying on the beach in a pink dress were Tuxen’s own daughters, Yvonne and Nina, aged 13 and 10 respectively at the time. Yvonne was born in 1894, Nina in 1898. The third girl is almost certainly Peder and Marie Krøyer’s daughter Vibeke Krøyer, born in 1895, so she would’ve been about 12 or 13 here as well. She appears to have her father’s red hair. Now, here are the photographs of the scene, showing Tuxen at work in the background. You’ll see that, despite her nudity in the painting, Yvonne is fully clothed in the photos. This modesty may have been for the sake of the photographer, who has not been identified, but also it may have been unnecessary for her to strip, as the artist may simply be touching up some of the details. If you look closely, you can see that the painting appears to be pretty close to completion.

Photographer Unknown - Laurits Tuxen painting 'Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med Figurer' (1)

Photographer Unknown – Laurits Tuxen painting ‘Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med Figurer’ (1)

Photographer Unknown - Laurits Tuxen painting 'Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med Figurer' (2)

Photographer Unknown – Laurits Tuxen painting ‘Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med Figurer’ (2)

By the way, there is a wealth of information about this group and several more photos and artworks featuring these three girls, including some closeups (they were all quite beautiful in my estimation) at this site, where the above photos were borrowed from, though it’s all in Danish. If you’re willing to slog through it and do the translations, it is quite a fascinating look at the life of these artists and their children.

Alphonse Isambert

I’m back! At least for awhile. And here’s a taste of what I have in store for you. This piece is by Alphonse Isambert, a student of the master historical painter Paul Delaroche. Isambert, like many artists of the 19th century, was heavily inspired by ancient Greco-Roman art and culture. The style here is Neoclassical, and this piece exemplifies the tradition of the idyll, with two rustic youths, likely young lovers, playing music in the woods. The title translates to Aulos Players in Arcadia.

Alphonse Isambert - Les joueurs d’aulos en Arcadie (1847)

Alphonse Isambert – Les joueurs d’aulos en Arcadie (1847)

 

The Paintings of Robert Herdman

Robert Inerarity Herdman (1829–1888) was born at Rattray, the youngest of the parish minister’s four sons. At age fifteen, he started at St. Andrews’ University with the intent of eventually entering the ministry like his father. However, this idea was soon forgotten as he spent much of his time sketching or painting.

In June 1847, he began six years of study at the Edinburgh Trustees’ Academy, where he remained as a student until the end of the 1853 session. While there, the artist became a regular recipient of prizes, winning his first award for shaded drawings, less than a year after his admission. Additionally, he obtained first and second prizes in the Antique and Life classes in 1851 and 1852 then in 1854 he won from the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) the Keith Prize and a bronze medal.

In 1855 the RSA gave Herdman his first commission where he spent a year in Italy making copies of old master paintings. In addition to these copies the artist made many of his own paintings to sell for a little income. Artistic life in Scotland revolved around the RSA and he became an Associate in 1858 and a full Academian in 1863. From 1850 until his death, the artist showed most of his works at the RSA, a total of about two hundred paintings over three decades. He also showed at the Glasgow Institute and a couple of pictures each year at the Royal Academy in London. The artist also made illustrations, which accompanied various poems and novels, for the Royal Association for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland. Many of these works were minor; however in 1869 he received a major commission from the Association, for a subject of his own choice ”capable of furnishing a powerful and effective engraving”, to be issued as a bonus to subscribers for five guineas. The subject Herdman selected—After the Battle – a Scene in Covenanting Times—was not based on any literary source. It was intended to be, as a story, fully self-explanatory. Such was the acclaim of the painting that the Association unanimously decided to buy it for presentation to the newly created National Gallery of Scotland and has since become one of his most recognised images.

Robert Herdman - After the Battle A Scene in Covenanting Times (1870)

Robert Herdman – After the Battle A Scene in Covenanting Times (1870)

Another source of income came from the re-use of studies as finished pictures and the painting of small replicas of larger compositions as can be seen in this portrait of a girl. The girl that appears in this painting resembles the girl in After the Battle.

Robert Herdman - Portrait of a Girl (1876)

Robert Herdman – Portrait of a Girl (1876)

Herdman’s paintings were mainly portraits and historical compositions in oil paint, but he also produced some notable landscapes in watercolour. His portraits ranged in style from the delicate, charming and beautiful images of young women and children to the strong and characterised images of male academics; a large number of these can be viewed on ARTUK’s website.

Robert Herdman - Dressing for the Charade The Children of Patrick Allan Fraser (1866)

Robert Herdman – Dressing for the Charade The Children of Patrick Allan Fraser (1866)

Robert Herdman - A fern gatherer West Highlands (1864)

Robert Herdman – A fern gatherer West Highlands (1864)

Robert Herdman - Evening (1862)

Robert Herdman – Evening (1862)

He first visited the Isle of Arran in the summer of 1864 and the landscape became a common feature in his paintings either as the setting of his portraits or as landscape paintings. These visits were not only painting expeditions but family holidays with repeated visits year after year.

Robert Herdman - Little Messenger (1860)

Robert Herdman – Little Messenger (1860)

Robert Herdman - Fern Gatherer (1866)

Robert Herdman – Fern Gatherer (1866)

Robert Herdman - Evening Thoughts (1964)

Robert Herdman – Evening Thoughts (1964)

Robert Herdman - Morning (1861)

Robert Herdman – Morning (1861)

Robert Herdman - Pleasures of Hope (1877)

Robert Herdman – Pleasures of Hope (1877)

Robert Herdman - The Gleaner (1863)

Robert Herdman – The Gleaner (1863)

Robert Herdman - The Arrochar Gleaner (1862)

Robert Herdman – The Arrochar Gleaner (1862)

Robert Herdman - The Time of Primroses (1954)

Robert Herdman – The Time of Primroses (1954)

Robert Herdman - Bonny Bell (1859)

Robert Herdman – Bonny Bell (1859)

For those interested in seeing a list of Herdman’s paintings, there are two catalogues at archive.org. One is for the Royal Scottish Academy and one for the Royal Academy, London. These are not a full list of works by the artist but rather a list of all works hosted at these galleries.

Modern and Vintage Dolls

In a previous article last year, I introduced the topic of porcelain dolls, illustrating it with my own acquisitions. My collection having grown both in quantity and in diversity, I think that the time has now come to post a sequel.

There are many types of dolls. First they can be made with various materials: cloth, plastic, etc. The ones I own have their head (and generally the visible body parts such as hands) made from a matte type of porcelain (without enamel) called bisque (biscuit in French). But the rest of the body can be made in several ways, as I will explain. Then they can represent different types of people. Mine belong to the category called baby (bébé in French), which means in fact small children; but in that category, I never buy babies and toddlers, nor boys; I collect only girls looking to be between the ages of 5 and 12. Finally, dolls vary according to the epoch of their making. My previous article showed what one calls modern dolls, most of them were recent models produced for the tourist market.

I will start with five modern dolls bought since last year. Their head, hands and forearms, feet and lower legs are in bisque, but the rest of the body is made with padded tissue. The assembling of limbs is not always perfect, so that while they are held from their waist on a metallic holder (under their dress), their hanging legs can slightly slant to one side, and their feet be somewhat turned. One can minimize this defect in photography by taking the picture from a suitable angle and rotating it by 1 or 2 degrees.

I show first a small redhead (40 cm without the hat), with rustic clothes.

Doll_RH

The next four dolls (as the last two in the previous article) were made by the German company Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH, whose brand name is rf collection. On the label one can read:

Decorative doll for collectors, minimum age: 14 years!
No toy! Small parts can break and be swallowed!

Indeed, they are not intended for little girls, but for adults. I show here my two loveliest ones. I consider them twins: I bought them on the same day, they have the same size (42 cm without the hat), and their clothes are similar.

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH - rf collection no. 120691 (2016)

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH – rf collection no. 120691 (2016)

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH - rf collection no. 120707 (2016)

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH – rf collection no. 120707 (2016)

The next one is peculiar; she is not standing, but she has to sit on a chair (her knees are folded); she is approximately 55 cm long.

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH - rf collection (2016)

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH – rf collection (2016)

I call the last one (54 cm without the hat) the green fairy, because of her green dress, but also because she stands next to the glass cabinet where I keep my absinthe.

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH - rf collection (2015)

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH – rf collection (2015)

Photographed from another angle, she seems to be dreaming.

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH - rf collection (2015)

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH – rf collection (2015)

Now I show my big doll, she measures exactly one meter. I bought her last year in a flea market in Strasbourg. As with modern dolls, her head and hands are in bisque, and her body in padded tissue, but her lower legs and feet seem to be made of painted tissue covering some light and flexible matter, maybe cardboard. As it often happens with second-hand dolls, her soiled face needed some washing, and her dusty bloomers and petticoat required a laundry. She has been featured in Agapeta, where I showed her sprawling on a sofa. But I decided that her dignity (and my comfort) required buying a chair for her. And she even got her own doll, a very old one.

Doll_NSD

Before describing the latter, I must introduce the topic of vintage bisque dolls. They often date from the early 20th century, sometimes from the 19th. They are rather expensive, generally costing several hundred euros; I even saw a beautiful 19th century doll by a renowned maker, in perfect condition, priced 13 000 euros! The body can be made from various materials, such as tissue, wood, “composition” (imitation of bisque), or a kind of painted papier mâché. Often the arms are articulated, and instead of dropping, they can be held raised thanks to elastic rubber attached to them inside. Generally the hair and the clothes are recent replacements; in fact they often have real human hair, in contrast to modern dolls that have synthetic hair (hence, because of reflections, they should be photographed without a flash). Given the sophistication of their moving body parts, it seems that they were not decorative dolls, but real toys.

German dolls from the early 20th century usually have the brand name, model and geographic origin engraved at the back of the head. This one is a series 250.0 of the maker Ernst Heubach in Koppelsdorf, Germany. I bought it from an antiquarian in Strasbourg, who dates it from around 1900. As another site states: “The Germany inscription reinforces the early 1900 date. Starting in the early 1920’s the US started requiring the ‘Made in Germany’ mark on imports.” She has “sleeping eyes”, that is, her upper eyelids close when she lies on her back. Her articulated shoulders and elbows can both fold and rotate as in humans, and her wrists can rotate. Her legs are articulated at the hips and knees (but without elastic to prevent them from dropping down). Note also her open mouth.

Ernst Heubach Dolls, Koppelsdorf, Germany - Heubach Koppelsdorf 250.0 (c.1900--1920)

Ernst Heubach Dolls, Koppelsdorf, Germany – Heubach Koppelsdorf 250.0 (1900–1920)

I bought the next vintage doll at the Musée de la Poupée in Paris. It is a series MOA 200 made for the brand Welsch & Company by Max Oscar Arnold in Neustadt, Germany. I was told that it is dated 1940; however I think it could perhaps be older, since according to the reference site, the Max Oscar Arnold Doll Company operated until 1930. Since she wears a nightgown, I put her in my bedroom. She also has an open mouth, limbs rotating and folding at the hips, knees, shoulders and elbows, and rotating wrists. I had to untangle her hair, but I do not dare use a comb to groom it, since it might be torn from the felt scalp—so I leave it wildly spread around her face.

Max Oscar Arnold Dolls, Neustadt, Germany - MOA 200 Welsch (c.1940)

Max Oscar Arnold Dolls, Neustadt, Germany – MOA 200 Welsch (c1940)

Readers who looked carefully at the previous post may have noticed that another doll was standing at that place in my bedroom; indeed the latter moved to my kitchen.

My last doll, the most expensive one, was also bought at the Musée de la Poupée in Paris. They date it 1945. It was made by Monica Doll Studios, Hollywood, CA, USA. Her arms and legs are rigid; they move only at the elbows and hips. But while the trunk and limbs of the two German dolls were rather rough in their making, Monica’s body is made in the same material as her face, and with the same quality. So maybe it was a decorative doll, not a toy.

Monica Doll Studios, Hollywood, CA USA (1945)

Monica Doll Studios, Hollywood, CA USA (1945)

Here we can see her from another angle.

Monica Doll Studios, Hollywood, CA USA (1945)

Monica Doll Studios, Hollywood, CA USA (1945)

I am not sure whether I will buy any more dolls. They fill my apartment, I am starting to run out of room for them.

Random Image: Moïse Kisling

An associate found this interesting oil painting—belonging to a private collection—and another associate followed through with some details. The title of this piece translates as Seated Couple.

Moïse Kisling - Seated Couple (1934)

Moïse Kisling – Couple Assis (1934)

Moïse Kisling (1891–1953) was born in Kraków (then part of Austria-Hungary). He studied there at the School of Fine Arts and was encouraged by his teachers to pursue his career in Paris. He started out in Montmartre in 1910 and joined an émigré artist community with members from eastern Europe, the U.S. and the U.K.

During World War I, he served in the French Foreign Legion and was seriously wounded in 1915. As a reward for his service, he was given French citizenship. He became friends with many of his contemporaries such as Jules Pascin and Amedeo Modigliani. Although he painted landscapes, he was noted for his surreal female nudes. However, his style seems to have changed over time with the seated couple above being painted in the Art Deco style. During the German occupation of France in World War II, he emigrated to the United States where remained until his return to France in 1946. A large collection of Kisling’s works is held by the Musée du Petit Palais in Geneva.

Here is a great site with high-quality images of many of his paintings and some historical photographs.

Arthur B. Davies

Arthur Bowen Davies (1862–1928) was an American Symbolist artist, who enjoyed great success in his lifetime. In 1924, the art collector Duncan Phillips, founder of Washington’s Phillips Collection, wrote, “Arthur B. Davies is already recognized, not only in this country but in Europe, as one of the few men of original and authentic genius among the painters of our contemporary world.” However, like many artists featured on Pigtails in Paint, his work is not well-known today. He is mainly remembered for organizing the Armory Show which introduced modern European painting styles into early 20th Century America.

Arthur B Davies Two Nude Girls ca. 1915

Arthur B. Davies – Two Nude Girls (c1915)

I came to be interested in work like Davies’ when I was in college taking a course on existentialism and reading books like Kierkegaard’s Sickness unto Death. The vitality of the paintings of young girls by early 20th Century artists seemed to counter such pessimism. It is my intention in my posts to put the figurative works in a cultural context which will enrich one’s understanding of the work. Most articles I find on American early 20th Century artists only give biographical information without recognizing the symbolic content of the work. There appear to be hundreds of paintings and sculptures of young girls which were executed from the 1890s until the 1920s, since such images of girls were very rare in earlier times. The works must reflect a cultural development. I believe the tendency reflects a return of what Plato called the Celestial Venus. An article that covers more of Davies’ nudes can be found on Celestial Venus.

Arthur B Davies The Mountaineers 1913

Arthur B. Davies – The Mountaineers (1913)

Davies also experimented with a cubist style for a short time. I know I have been critical of Duchamp and Picasso but I will admit I like some of their cubist works. But most cubist paintings amuse me in a way, which is similar to the amusement I have from looking a gaudy 1960s fashion; what were they thinking? An example that guys should understand: it’s like the cheesy wah wah guitar effect, which now sounds corny. It appears that Davies could not accept the aesthetics of Cubism since he never fragmented the figures as Picasso did. Davies’ Cubist paintings reflect that he was only appealing to a fad.  In contrast, many of his figurative works are timeless. That’s what is special about a nude, since the person is not wearing clothes which reflects a time period; very often a nude is timeless.

Arthur B. Davies - Heart's Hansel (1916)

Arthur B. Davies – Heart’s Hansel (1916)

Arthur B Davies Drawing ca. 1920

Arthur B. Davies – Drawing (c1920)