I was sorting some of my art files today and spotted this little fairy postcard. I do not know the artist. One thing I noticed about the little girl is that the artist really feminized her, giving her small breasts and dainty hands and feet. Very Victorian. The background also appears to have been influenced by Asian art.
Occasionally on the web you run into articles, often in listicle form, of captured moments from childhood being recreated years later for humorous effect. Sometimes these are awkward and creepy, but usually they’re pretty funny. Here are a couple I’ve pulled off the web recently. The first one actually reverses the original scene, where the teen boy graduating from high school (I assume) is posing with his little sister. In the recreation, it is the sister graduating, and she’s holding her now much older brother.
The second image is pretty much just a straight recreation, but the original photo—obviously posed by a parent—is much funnier because of the contradictions. The sweet-natured smile on her face does not at all match with her gesture, or with the general context of the image. In the second one she doesn’t look nearly as innocent, of course, which I suppose was the point.
Hey, I still have at least one post in my soap series, but I’ve been quite busy and unable to put it together. I know Pigtails is a bit slow right now, as everyone has been fairly busy with their own things. So, I’ll try to do a few minor posts here and there until I get the next big post out.
Here we have the tsesarevna (crown princess) of Russia, Elizaveta Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great, depicted as Venus, the goddess of love. An interesting choice for a child, which just goes to show how very differently past cultures viewed children. Given the style (early Romanticism), even if I had not known who the subject was I would have placed this sometime in the 1700s. She of course appears in the nude, as would be appropriate for classical gods and goddesses in art. Note how the artist depicted the child with exaggerated feminine features, particularly wider hips than would be common for a child of her age.
The second part of our Girls in Vintage Soap Ads series deals with one of the oldest soap companies in the business, Pears. The company was named after its founder Andrew Pears, a London-based barber, who perfected a purifying method for soap in the early 1800s and produced the world’s first translucent soap for the mass market. Pears is still going strong, though it is now based in India and is owned by Hindustan Unilever, a subsidiary of Unilever proper.
With the company’s history established, let’s move on to the advertising art. I can’t make out the artist’s name in our first piece, but I’ve found multiple copies of it online, including both black & white and color versions. The color version required a good deal of clean-up in Photoshop, but I think the results were well worth it.
Here we have another unknown artist or date, but the style is quintessentially Victorian, so I’m dating it to around the 1880s-90s.
Here’s another Victorian image, and again, this required a lot of clean-up to remove the watermark, as well as fix some wear and tear. I do have a black & white version with the same watermark I could’ve posted, but I had already invested a few hours in cleaning up images and did not want to delay this post further. Maybe some day I will clean it up and stick it in here.
Another late Victorian offering. This is actually a riff on an earlier and better known ad campaign by the same company in which a crying baby is climbing out of his tub and trying to reach the soap. (You can see a version of that ad here.) The implication in this ad, however, would likely be controversial today, for good reason.
Here are a couple more pieces dating from around the same time period. The first one is cute, but I particularly like the second one. It seems to have been heavily influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite painting style.
Pears was well known for using existing art in their ad campaigns, right from their first major one, which was based on Giovanni Focardi’s sculpture You dirty boy! Other examples utilized famous paintings, most famously Frederick Morgan‘s His Turn Next!
Other ads were based on Briton Rivière‘s Naughty Boy, or Compulsory Education (I’ve also seen it listed on the web as The Reading Lesson, and as having been painted by Charles Burton Barber, but I’m sure this is incorrect—Barber made plenty of paintings featuring little girls and dogs, but this was not one of them) and Émile Munier‘s En pénitence, better known as Sugar and Spice in the Anglo world. For the latter I am including a simple reproduction of the actual painting as I have always found it quite charming. The first ad is pretty much just a straight reproduction of the Rivière painting anyway, save for a tiny Pears logo in the bottom right-hand corner.
This next piece, based on Frederick Morgan’s Over the Garden Wall, although not labeled as an ad, appeared in the Pears Annual (calendar), which could be considered a form of advertising. It also would fit comfortably in my Cherry Ripe! post, as the cherries hint at the erotic—or pre-erotic in this case—which is echoed in the boy’s stolen kiss, a fairly common theme in lighter Victorian art (see also the above ad, He won’t be happy till he gets it!)
This illustration I feel fairly confidant in dating to either the Edwardian era or slightly after.
This is probably my favorite of the Pears ads, and it was done by an obscure artist named Bruno Ximenes. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to find a decent version of this image. I actually downloaded several versions of this ad at varying qualities, but eventually I narrowed it down to two, and I’m sharing them both. Unfortunately, the best version—the first one here—had a very prominent watermark that had to be removed, and the image required a lot of experimenting to get it to look just right. I hope you guys appreciate the efforts I go to to make sure you get high-quality images. 😉
Early twentieth century ads frequently incorporated both illustration and photography, as is the case here.
This is an excellent transition point as we move into the photographic era proper. Throughout the first half and middle of the twentieth century, Pears’ major campaign focused on little girls and used the tagline: Preparing to be a Beautiful Lady. Obviously such a campaign would not fly today, but it was incredibly successful for the company for decades. This was also done in conjunction with another brilliant campaign that lasted even longer: an annual contest to find Miss Pears, the little girl who would represent the company for the coming year and would often appear in Pears advertisements.
British painter Louis Turpin apparently painted one of the Miss Pears girls in 1986. I couldn’t find any info on the image, so it could just be that the child’s surname happens to be Pears, but it would be unusual to name her Miss Pears in such a portrait, given how famous the contest was, if she wasn’t actually a Miss Pears, so I’m sharing it.
The Miss Pears Contest ended for good in 1996 as media purveyors became more sensitive to the issue of child sexualization.
Finally, we have a couple of television commercials. As I pointed out at the beginning of the article, the company is now based in India, which means India is now its primary market. As such, most of the ads for Pears are now Indian, including these two.
There is no shortage of vintage advertisements with adorable little girls in them, but those old soap ads seem to be particularly charming. And it so happens that there are tons of them from the major soap brands like Sunlight, Packer’s, Fairy, and most prominently, Pears, easily found on the web. We’ll get to all of these in upcoming posts, but today’s post is devoted exclusively to one of the biggest soap brands of all time, Ivory.
Ivory Soap was first manufactured by the J.B. Williams Company in 1840 under the name Ivorine, but this didn’t last long. The company soon sold its rights to the soap to Procter & Gamble, who eventually changed its name to Ivory. Ivory Soap is known for two famous slogans, “It Floats” and “99 44⁄100% Pure.” The latter was especially popular for years. In the ’50s and ’60s their main slogan became “That Ivory Look”, which was associated with the smooth skin of infants and considered the ideal for women.
Most of the early ads were of course illustrated, often by some of the most notable names in the business. One of those was Irving Ramsey Wiles. While he later became a successful portraitist, his early career was largely devoted to magazine and ad illustration, such as the following two variants of the same piece:
Another major illustrator who did illustrations for Ivory Soap was the ever-prolific Jessie Willcox Smith. Here are three from her all done right around the turn of the twentieth century. Note: a full-color illustration by Smith also featured in an ad for one of Ivory’s major competitors, Pears. It’s already been posted here once, but I will likely link to it again when I make the Pears post.
This next piece, although labeled as a Smith illustration when I found it, is not actually her work. The artist’s name in the bottom left-hand corner, although difficult to make out, appears to be Albert Herter, which makes sense as Herter was definitely a contemporary of Smith and is known to have been a prolific illustrator in his own right. And although all of the advertising info has been cropped out, you can see that the theme of the piece is the children’s bath. The young woman here looks to have her hands full with all the kids waiting to be scrubbed clean by her.
Yet another highly productive illustrator who did several pieces for Ivory Soap was Alice Beach Winter. Although no dates are given for any of these, we can judge from the style, and from what we know of Winter, that these are either from the Edwardian period or slightly later.
I do not know the artist for this next illustration, but again, it’s from the same time period.
Our final Golden Age illustrator is Clara Elsene Peck. Like Jessie Willcox Smith, Peck focused primarily on the lives of women and children, which made her a natural fit for illustrating Ivory Soap ads. I especially like this first piece, which I’m posting two different versions of.
And now we move on to the era of photography with a trio of ads featuring images by unidentified photographers. By the ’50s it became fairly commonplace for advertisers to stop displaying the names of artists, especially photographers.
But here is one of the exceptions. Francesco Scavullo’s work was so well-known and prestigious in the ’60s and ’70s that he has been identified as the photographer in these ads. The idea of mothers competing with their little daughters to look youthful would later become controversial with feminists, of course.
Edit: I had intended to add this to the post originally, but it was not yet ready. So I am adding it now. I had another commercial I wanted to post but its size exceeds the limit for upload so I will simply link to it. – Pip
This item was recently sold on an internet sales site. This is perhaps a holdover from the popular Edwardian style of photographing children. Do these children look stigmatized to you? It is kind of interesting that the faces are partially obscured without it being too obvious.
I found this piece whilst scrounging around on the web. As is often the case with these things, there was no information about the artist provided with it, but it did have a title. I liked it well enough anyway and knew it would be perfect for Pigtails’ followers. It seems to be a digitally designed collage piece, and I particularly love the beams of light emanating from her head.
This advertisement is nostalgic for me. It is remarkable how a company’s image can change over the years. My memories are of a convenience store catering to kids looking for fast food like Slurpees and burritos microwaved right there in the store! This ad gives the impression of a wholesome place safe for kids and they still called the man behind the counter a grocer. This model has been imitated by a number of other companies in the form of the ubiquitous gas station convenience store.
While I am not a subscriber to the Freudian philosophy in full, I do find it fascinating and worth looking into from time to time. What most interests me is what I would call proto-Freudianism, a sort of loose and unfocused examination of concepts like the symbolic phallus and vagina in art. The phallus in artistic imagery is well-documented; less so the vagina. When the vagina has been represented symbolically, it generally manifests in two forms: the flower and the vessel. In my post Deflowered, I addressed the latter in a particular context, namely the shattered or broken vessel as it represented the loss of virginity. Here we will examine the same symbol in its purer form, before it is broken. Thus, in Freudian terms we are looking at girls who are still sexually innocent. The symbolism is rarely conscious on the part of artists, but for a Freudian that hardly matters. Of particular concern to us are pieces from the heyday of Freudianism (late 19th to mid 20th century), when artists were more likely to be aware of the sexual symbolism in their work and could choose either to accentuate it or downplay it.
Our first couple of pieces are a pair of objets d’art from unknown artists, Niña con cántaro and Niña llevando un cántaro (Girl with Pitcher and Girl Carrying a Pitcher respectively). In the first, one of the girl’s sleeves has fallen off her shoulder, thus baring one of her nipples. As Journey Darkmoon pointed out in his Chauncey Bradley Ives post, the revelation of the little girl’s nipple symbolizes her innocence, as she is unaware of the deeper connotation of such an act. This, coupled with the vessel at her feet, symbolizes feminine innocence. In the second example, the girl is nude altogether (save for a couple of bows in her hair), but again her innocence is clear.
The trend continues with this set from Lladró. The famous porcelain company’s history of producing charming child pieces is unrivaled.
A common theme running through all of these pieces is nudity, partial nudity or, as in the case of Bessie Potter Vonnoh‘s Garden Figure, an ephemeral sort of drapery. Again, this is all meant to reinforce the fact that these are innocent young girls. The vessels they bear are unbroken for a reason. Vonnoh’s little vessel bearer was later used as part of the Frances Hodgson Burnett Memorial Fountain.
Art Deco and other modern artists tended to focus on early adolescent models rather than prepubescent ones, such as this lighter/ashtray combo piece, Juan Cristobal‘s Niña con cántaro and Joseph Bernard‘s The Water Bearer.
One of my absolute favorite pieces in this vein is Peruvian sculptor Juan José Paredes Antezana’s Niña A. It’s difficult to pin down the date here but the style seems fairly modern.
V. Marseille’s topless adolescent water bearer is a fine modern exemplar of the trend.
Our sole photographic entry in this subject is a piece by Rudolf Lehnert and Ernst Landrock. Judging by the iconography on her vessel, this little girl appears to be Arabic or North African, possibly Egyptian. Lehnert & Landrock really deserve a dedicated post of their own on Pigtails. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable on the pair will do us the honor.
This sculpture of a boy and girl retrieving water, which I’ve posted here before, is one of the most blatantly Freudian pieces I’ve ever come across. Here we have two vessels, the water jug, which has a spigot and is held up by the young boy (one of the rare times when the vessel takes on a masculine aspect rather than a feminine one), and the cup in the little girl’s hand. Take note of the almost wanton look on the thirsty girl’s face as she raises her cup to be filled by the boy. Note too how uncomfortably close her cup is to the boy’s genitalia. The boy also sits above the girl, reflecting his sexual dominance of her. Clearly the artist who created this piece (Edme Marie Cadoux) did so with at least some degree of awareness of all these cues. That this would all be accidental seems rather unlikely to me.
Otherwise, even when the vessel is borne by a male, it still retains its feminine attributes, which subtly suggests homosexuality. The context is certainly relevant in this piece by Neoclassical sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. In this image we see the goddess Hebe, formerly the cup bearer of the gods, passing her serving vessels on to Ganymede, the boy who replaced her in this duty, while Zeus in his eagle form looks on. If you know your Greek myths, then you are well aware that young Ganymede was also one of Zeus’s lovers.
Speaking of Ganymede, he was the original representative for the zodiac sign Aquarius. Over time a girl or young woman tended to replace Zeus’s catamite in artistic representations of the sign for perhaps obvious reasons. Eduard Steinbrück‘s Die Nymphe der Düssel could’ve been the prototype for modern images of Aquarius. (See also the Deflowered post linked above for symbolism surrounding the adolescent girl dipping her toe into the water.)
Finally, we have a pair of candlesticks, a boy and a girl, by Edward Francis McCartan. Again, even the boy is rather feminized, all the more so for holding an amphora. These are certainly eroticized portrayals of youth, which McCartan was no stranger to.
Time for some album art! In this batch we have some old stuff and some new stuff, with cover art from Black Sabbath, William Fitzsimmons, The Game, Tones on Tail and many others, so let’s get started.
Our first album cover is for a band we all know, Black Sabbath. This is the cover for their live Reunion album, and it is spectacular. First off, it sort of references the cover of Ozzy’s solo album No Rest for the Wicked. But beyond that, I just love these demon toddlers (probably portrayed by the same model) with their little cloven hooves and tiny wings. That, along with the fact that they’re girls, makes them anti-cherubs, I think. The cover was designed by Glen Wexler, who also did the cover for Van Halen’s Balance that I profiled several years ago (and that Wexler himself commented on). You could almost say this is a counterpart cover to Balance. It may just be my favorite Black Sabbath cover now. Well, it’s a tossup between this and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (front and back), beautifully illustrated by Drew Struzan.
Glen Wexler Studio (Official Site)
Wikipedia: Glen Wexler
Our next cover is for Relative Ash’s Our Time with You. I really know nothing about this band other than that they formed in the mid-90s and are said to sound something like Deftones (I haven’t listened to them). They seem to have put out this one album and then broken up. If anyone has more info about the band, this album cover or its creator, you are welcome to comment on it. I like the simplicity and the Pandora’s Box symbolism here.
Here are a couple of covers for albums by singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons. The first featured album, Until When We Are Ghosts, was his debut. An interesting factoid about Fitzsimmons: both of his parents, who were also musicians, were blind.
I really love this next cover though. The little equestrienne in her dressage jacket and bowler derby is certainly adorable. The album itself is actually the second of two albums that are thematically linked, with each one being about one of Fitzsimmons’s grandmothers. The sad tale of the singer’s father and his father’s mother (the subject of this album) is recounted on Fitzsimmons’s website if you want to read it. You can find it here.
Now here’s an album with a cover featuring the childhood countenances of three well-known country-pop singers, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton, just in case you ever wondered what they looked like as little girls. By the way, if you aren’t aware of it, the young Dolly has been portrayed (wonderfully, I think) by Alyvia Alyn Lind in two made-for-television movies as of this post.
Tones on Tail was a side project of Bauhaus guitarist Daniel Ash that only lasted a couple of years but nevertheless put out several singles, three EPs and one LP, that being this album, Pop. The cover depicts a nude toddler girl balancing upon a wall near the woods, but there is something not quite right about her face/head. It almost looks like she is wearing a mask and wig combo, or at least a wig. That hair just does not look real. If it is, it’s a really horrible haircut. That, combined with the darkness of the trees in the background, invest the image with an undeniable creepiness. The photographer of the image is listed on Wikipedia (and presumably in the album’s notes) as Mr. Atlas, which makes sense I suppose, as he probably didn’t want t be identified for taking a nude photo of a child in the woods.
And speaking of toddlers with things on their head, our next album cover shows a little girl wearing some kind of warrior’s helmet in addition to her pink princess dress and pink tennis shoes. The album is Take It Like a Man by the Butcher Babies, a heavy metal band fronted by two female vocalists. Obviously the masculine helmet is intended to contrast with the girlishness of the dress and, well . . . the girl herself.
Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf is a compilation album by rapper The Game. I don’t really know much about The Game or this album, but I really liked the cover, with its sassy little girl in red showing a big bad wolf who’s boss. Now, what ever could that be a reference to? 😉
Our next cover is for Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s single release SB-03, the third in an ongoing series of psychedelic instrumental tracks released by the band every Christmas. The cover was created by Jenny Nielson, front man Ruban Nielson’s wife. The child in the photo may be herself when she little or someone else entirely. I really don’t know, but I like her creative flair nonetheless.
Anders Osborne is singer-songwriter heavily influenced by the blues. All of his output so far has been released on small labels, most of them specializing in blues and jazz music. Little kids flipping off the camera is nothing new to the internet, but I think this is the first time I’ve actually seen it as an official piece of art, in this case for Osborne’s album Peace.
Our penultimate album cover is actually the first in a whole series of anthology albums collecting lesser known late sixties pop music. The album series features the exact same artwork, only each one is rendered in different colors. At a guess, I would say the original illustration came from the pen of Aubrey Beardsley, but try as I might, I was unable to confirm that. So, as with most of these, the artist will have to remain unidentified for now.
And last but certainly not least is this beautifully illustrated cover for Robin Crutchfield‘s Into the Dark Wood. Crutchfield is one of those peculiar souls who has been quietly making his own sort of art and music on the fringes for decades, influencing many but never quite becoming as well-known as those who came after. He began as a performance artist which soon transitioned into music, and then, along with his band DNA, he became one of the pioneers of the avante-garde musical movement known as No Wave. Eventually he began making music eerily similar to (but not quite) Medieval music, of which Into the Dark Wood is his latest. The cover art, I’m quite certain, is by some Victorian fairy artist, though I’ve been unable to pin down who. My hunch is Edward Robert Hughes, but again I was not able to confirm it. I would really love to know who created this piece, so if anyone out there is willing to research this more thoroughly I would be eternally grateful. I would love to feature the original image here, especially if I can get a larger one online somewhere.