A European Fountain in the Middle of Pittsburgh: Edmond Amateis’ Mellon Park Masterpiece

It’s not literally a European fountain, but there is something distinctly European in the Art Deco fountain Edmond Amateis constructed for Mellon Park, a small park in the Shadyside neighborhood of downtown Pittsburgh. The park was once the grounds of Richard Beatty Mellon‘s estate. Mellon was a wealthy industrialist and banker, whose 65-room mansion was the largest residence in Pittsburgh at the time of its construction.The house was apparently torn down in 1941 (a mere thirty years after its construction), though there seems to be no ready explanation as to why.

Artist Unknown – R. B. Mellon Residence (postcard)

The land was later appropriated by the city and became Mellon Park, now book-ended by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Phipps Garden Center. The fountain, which sits at the western end of the Walled Garden, was built in 1927, six years before Mellon passed away. One of the walls in the Walled Garden (likely the one opposite the fountain) is all that remains of what once was Mellon’s grand home.

Google Maps – Mellon Park (1)

Google Maps – Mellon Park (2)

Google Maps – Mellon Park (3)

As for the fountain, there’s a good reason why it emanates a European sensibility: Amateis’s father, Louis Amateis, was a well-respected sculptor in his own right who had immigrated to America from Italy. Edmond himself was born in Rome, though well after Louis had come to America (so likely during a visit with family). He would later study sculpting at the Académie Julian in Paris and at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York City, the latter school specializing in the style of the French École des Beaux-Arts.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (1)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (2)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (3)

As one can see from the image below, the fountain is in need of some minor repairs.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (4)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (5)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (6)

I count a total of seven children around the fountain, with only two of them being boys and the remaining five being girls, an unusual choice. I suspect this was because the artist did not want to portray male genitalia (you can see that both boys have their midsections blocked), and there were not many options he could take without repeating himself. Girls did not present the same problem for the sculptor. Whatever the motivation, it’s a delightful choice.

One can see nearly the entirety of the Walled Garden in this next shot.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (7)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (8)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (9)

The eighth side of the octagonal fountain simply has a squirrel instead of a child.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (10)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (11)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (12)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (13)

This is not part of the Mellon Park fountain, but it’s a nice little piece using the same Art Deco style, and I decided to toss it in here at the end as a bonus.

Edmond Amateis – A Putto Riding a Dolphin

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)

Random Images: 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.

Lladró’s Beach Babes

As summer nears an end (in the Northern Hemisphere), I feel compelled to cover something of the beach scene. As you may already know, I am fond of Lladró figurines and feel their style captures the essence of demure feminity. There are plenty of interesting Lladró pieces that I have yet to cover on Pigtails and I share some of them now.

One piece in particular, I feel comes out of left field. It belongs to a series of children with a day-of-the-week theme—one for girls and one for boys. Monday’s Child (girl) (6012) is an enigma with its peculiar mixture of elements. It appears to be a bathing beauty with a parasol, holding an ice cream cone near a tempted puppy. It illustrates very well the way the company molds and then assembles each piece separately. What is perplexing is that I cannot determine the place and time the design is supposed to represent. The frilly parasol suggests an upper-class girl of perhaps the Edwardian period, but the outfit is a kind of two-piece bikini. The skirt, however, looks like it belongs to a cheerleading or other dance uniform rather than a bathing suit. I find it a charming piece, but I can’t help wondering if this kind of outfit ever existed or if it is just a bit of clever fantasy?

Lladró - 6012 Monday's Child (girl) (1993) (1)

Lladró – 6012 Monday’s Child (girl) (1993) (1)

Lladró - 6012 Monday's Child (girl) (1993) (2)

Lladró – 6012 Monday’s Child (girl) (1993) (2)

Lladró - 6012 Monday's Child (girl) (1993) (3)

Lladró – 6012 Monday’s Child (girl) (1993) (3)

Lladró - 6012 Monday's Child (girl) (1993) (4)

Lladró – 6012 Monday’s Child (girl) (1993) (4)

Perhaps the most important rule for caring for one’s precious collectibles is: never expose them to direct sunlight. The temptation is to show them off in a prominent place, but that will expose them to long-term damage. Here is an example of a Monday’s Child whose colors were slightly bleached because of this.

Lladró - 6012 Monday's Child (girl) (1993) (5)

Lladró – 6012 Monday’s Child (girl) (1993) (5)

Another Lladró beach classic is Sandcastles (5488) and I am always impressed with any piece where the hat is not an unwelcome distraction.

Lladró - 5488 Sandcastles (1988)

Lladró – 5488 Sandcastles (1988)

Free as a Butterfly (1483) illustrates the southern European convention of allowing girls to appear topless up to a certain age or level of development.

Lladró - 1483 Free as a Butterfly (1985)

Lladró – 1483 Free as a Butterfly (1985)

Lladró official site
Other Lladró posts: ‘Fantastic Creatures’, ‘Young Blossoms’ and ‘An Exercise in Composition’

Silver Light: Dod Procter

Dod Procter (1890-1972) was born Doris Margaret Shaw and at age 15, she moved with her mother and brother to Newlyn in Cornwall, UK to study at the Forbes School. There, she met her future husband Ernest Procter and the pair were considered among the school’s star pupils. In 1910 and 1911, they went to Paris together to study at Atelier Colarossi and were influenced by the Impressionists, Post-impressionists and the artists they met there—most notably Renoir and Cézanne. In 1912, they got married and had a son a year later. They worked together many times, sharing commissions or showing their work together at exhibitions. Procter remained a lifelong artist even after the untimely death of Ernest in 1935. She traveled subsequently to the United States, Canada, Jamaica and Africa.

Starting around 1922, Proctor painted a series of simplified, monumental images of young women with whom she was acquainted. When her painting, Morning, was displayed at the 1927 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, it was voted Picture of the Year and bought by the Daily Mail for the Tate gallery, where it now hangs.  Both the public and critics responded to its style claiming it evoked the west Cornish “silver light”. The model for the work was a Newlyn fisherman’s 16-year-old daughter, Cissie Barnes. The painting made her a household name of the day.

Dod Procter - Morning (1926)

Dod Procter – Morning (1926)

The subjects of her pictures were largely portraits and flowers. During her travels to Jamaica in the 1950s, she painted several works of children. The style and subject matter of Dod Procter’s later works changed considerably and included landscapes, paintings of children and still-lifes.

Dod Procter - Little Sister (1962)

Dod Procter – Little Sister (1962)

She died at age 80 and was buried next to her husband at St. Hilary Church in Cornwall. A book featuring her work, A Singular Vision: Dod Procter by Alison James, was published by Sansom & Co. in 2007.

A Provocative Perch

This story begins with a press photo I noticed on a sales site. I loved the impish expression of the girl while she sat on the head of the White Rabbit sculpture in Central Park, New York. Since the sculpture ties in to the whole Alice in Wonderland culture which is associated with a plethora of material about little girls, I decided it needed to be presented on this site. After a little digging, I realized this photo is historically significant as it was one of many taken during the unveiling of the statue in 1959.

Press photo (uncredited) (1959)

Press photo (uncredited) (1959)

I had no idea that this sculpture existed and even if I lived in New York, I would still probably not have known about it. Since beginning work on Pigtails and working with artists that deal with Alice lore extensively, I now feel it a duty to get to know some of this material (it would be impossible for any one person to keep track of it all). There are many sculptures in Central Park but this is one of the few depicting fictional characters. This piece features most prominently Alice, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit along with a few other charming characters and details from Lewis Carroll’s 1865 story. The statue is located on East 74th Street on the north side of Central Park’s Conservatory Water. The publisher George T. Delacorte Jr. commissioned the work from José de Creeft, in honor of Delacorte’s late wife, Margarita, and for the enjoyment of the children. The sculpture tries to follow John Tenniel’s whimsical illustrations from the first edition of the book Alice in Wonderland. Some sources suggest that de Creeft’s daughter Donna may have served as the model for Alice. The project’s architects and designers were Hideo Sasaki and Fernando Texidor, who inserted some plaques with inscriptions from the book in the terrace around the sculpture. The design of the sculpture attracts many children who climb its many levels, resulting in the bronze’s glowing patina, polished by thousands of tiny hands over the years. The casting was done at Modern Art Foundry Astoria in Queens, New York.

Owen Kennedy - Central Park's Alice in Wonderland (2009)

Owen Kennedy – Central Park’s Alice in Wonderland (2009)

Pip informed me that had I been more attentive, I might have noticed that there were a number of iconic images featuring this Central Park sculpture. In 1988, it appeared in Slick Rick’s music video, Children’s Story. But by Pip’s reckoning, the most notable photo was probably the one of Jimi Hendrix and his band sitting on the sculpture with a bunch of children. It was used as the back cover of some pressings of the Electric Ladyland album. Jimi actually wanted it for the front cover, but the studio in England insisted on a more provocative photo of nude women—a rare instance where the artist wanted a tamer image than the studio! Editions produced for the American market just feature a closeup of Jimi’s head, reflecting the more prudish attitudes in the U.S.  The image was photographed by Linda Eastman, who later married musician Paul McCartney.

Linda Eastman - The Jimi Hendix Experience's Electric Ladyland (back cover) (1968)

Linda Eastman – The Jimi Hendix Experience’s Electric Ladyland (back cover) (1968)

Sculptor and Photographer Unknown - (Title Unknown)

Sculptor and Photographer Unknown – (Title Unknown)

And while we are on the subject of children playing on statues, I have a bonus for you. This photograph also appeared online, but does not have any identifying information. The seller believes the statue is somewhere in Europe, but could offer no more than that. Anyone knowing anything about this piece is encouraged to come forward with the information and perhaps some better photos.

Wikipedia: Jose de Creeft

Linda McCartney (Linda Eastman) (official website)

Wikipedia: Linda McCartney

Wikipedia: Hideo Sasaki

Central Park (official website)

Jimi Hendrix (official site)

Mark Lancelot Symons: A Symbolist Painter Reborn

British artist Mark Lancelot Symons (1887–1935) was something of an anamoly.  His work is highly accomplished but resoundingly original, though certainly not without precedent (one can see the influence of earlier Symbolist painters such as Leon Frederic).  Yet Symons never felt that art was his true calling, only beginning to paint heavily and present his work publicly late in life, and then mostly at the behest of his wife.

A lifelong Catholic, Symons considered being a minister (unordained–he was able to marry and have children) his raison d’êtreAs a result of his deep religious faith, his paintings are often thematically Christian, either overtly or more subtly; however, he invited massive controversy among his fellow believers in his native country by placing some of the Biblical scene paintings in “worldly” contemporary settings.  Of course, despite the apparently easily offended Edwardian Brit sensibility, no one seems to have raised any objections to Symons using nude children in his work (not unlike Frederic, in fact).  Ah, how different things are today.  Can you imagine a Catholic priest offering paintings of nude children to the public in 2014?

Mark Lancelot Symons – A Fairy Tale

Mark Lancelot Symons – Ave Maria

Jorinda and Jorindal (or Jorinde and Joringel) is an odd choice for a tableau painting.  Paintings based on Grimm’s fairy tales certainly aren’t unheard of, but this is pretty obscure as far as they go, and not really one of their better ones.  The story concerns a pair of youths who are in love.  When the girl is captured by a witch–transformed into a nightingale and imprisoned in a birdcage–the young man dreams of the means to break the witch’s spell and free his beloved.  Pretty much your standard damsel-in-distress tale, in other words.  The decision by Symons to present the characters as modern children is an interesting one.  Place this piece in context of the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, of whom Symons was a follower.

Mark Lancelot Symons – Jorinda and Jorindal

Again, notice the Pre-Raphaelite influence here, particularly Millais and Burne-Jones.

Mark Lancelot Symons – Madonna and Child with Angels (1925)

Mark Lancelot Symons - Molly in the Garden

Mark Lancelot Symons – Molly in the Garden

Mark Lancelot Symons - Molly in the Pantry

Mark Lancelot Symons – Molly in the Pantry

Mark Lancelot Symons - My Lord I Meet in Every London Lane and Street

Mark Lancelot Symons – My Lord I Meet in Every London Lane and Street

Mark Lancelot Symons - The Day After Christmas

Mark Lancelot Symons – The Day After Christmas

Mark Lancelot Symons - (Title Unknown)

Mark Lancelot Symons – (Title Unknown)


Pierre Brissaud

I don’t get to post nearly enough Art Deco on here, so when I stumble on an Art Deco piece that fits my blog theme I am ecstatic! Here are a couple by French illustrator Pierre Brissaud. You’ll be seeing more from him in the future.


Pierre Brissaud – Picnic in the Old South – Pictorial Review, March 1935

Pierre Brissaud – ‘Tu vas trop vite, Maman…’ (1921)

Pierre Brissaud – ‘Tu vas trop vite, Maman…’ (1921)

Wikipedia: Pierre Brissaud


This was not a Jugend find, but I discovered it through my Jugend searches nonetheless.  It’s a beautiful Art Deco-era piece from the Hutschenreuter porcelain company, probably Lorenz Hutschenreuther’s Selb-based porcelain manufacturer, which split off from the original in 1857. Man, I want this so bad, but I guess I’ll have to settle for this picture of it.


Hutschenreuther – Mädchenakt mit Windhund (1920s-30s)


From Bill Tree on May 22, 2012
I just love how our “particular” aesthetic can lead us to cherish such items that our peers might associate with the tastes of little-old-ladies.
This is stunning!

From pipstarr72 on May 22, 2012
I’m not sure what you mean. My aesthetic taste is wide-ranging, but I do love art nouveau and art deco quite a bit. My favorite stuff tends to be about one or two steps removed from ultra-realism, but with a high degree of detail. This sculpture is simple but elegant. I like how the artist gave her form just a touch of the angularity typical of art deco. I would classify this as a perfect piece, which I don’t do often.

From Ron on May 22, 2012
There are quite a few of these pieces available on commercial sites and I have discovered that there is a substantial age range in the figures.

From pipstarr72 on May 22, 2012
But of course. Why wouldn’t there be? I am going to make a large Jugend-related post soon, in which I intend to lay out how the adolescent girl is the symbol of the jugendstil, and that carried over somewhat into art deco, which makes sense because the flapper era was the first time in history when society really began to see the ultra-thin body as the ideal.

Ida Pearle: Elizabeth Mitchell

Elizabeth Mitchell – You Are My Little Bird: I first heard the song Little Bird, Little Bird on the show Futurama and I knew I had to track it down.  There’s actually a music video for it. The album’s cover just happened to fit the theme of my blog, as do some of her other album covers, but this one is my fave.  Mitchell (not to be confused with the actress of the same name) is a folk children’s singer, probably not well known outside of that narrow niche . . . unless, of course, you’re a fan of Futurama like me. Her husband Daniel and young daughter Storey also perform with her sometimes.  The artwork is by Ida Pearle.


Ida Pearle – Elizabeth Mitchell – You Are My Little Bird (cover)

Ida Pearle (Official Site)

Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower (Official Site)