Random Images: Ida Wyman

(Last Updated On April 8, 2020)

I am going to do my best to clear out Pip’s backlog of collected images from the internet. Artists with a one-off interesting photograph will be posted as a random image and those with a more extensive featuring of girls or children will be added to the ‘Artists by Name’ page slated for an eventual dedicated post.

Ida Wyman‘s (1926–2019) photographs can be clearly classified as street photography and is remarkable in her ability to capture candid shots, a practice that is often restricted today due to laws protecting people’s privacy.

Ida Wyman – Girl with Curlers (1949)

Maiden Voyages: April 2020

(Last Updated On April 2, 2020)

We at Pigtails hope all is well for our readers as we work through this Coronavirus pandemic and its concomitant fear. I have been taking advantage of this slow time to catch up on some personal projects. First of all, there is some interesting news on a couple of films that both really push the envelope.

The Products of Our Genius: The Trouble with Being Born was just released and is about an android which looks like a child (played by 10-year-old Lena Watson). There are strong suggestions of a romantic relationship played out behind the scenes which has triggered much discussion. Dealing with challenging subjects is one thing, but directors/producers have the additional dilemma of whether to use actual child actors and to what extent.

An Inside Look at Battling Demons: Tench (2019) was recently released in Europe (no news of a North America release) which deals outright with the struggles of a convicted pedophile released from prison due to lack of evidence. Based on the novel, Muidhond by Inge Schilperoord, the plot is about this man getting his life back on track complicated by a 10-year-old neighbor girl (Julia Brown) determined to be his friend.

Revelations: As a kind of Renaissance Man, my work on Pigtails is a small part of a much bigger inter-disciplinary picture. A few friends have suggested that I compose a treatise that puts these parts together for our readers in an attempt to understand the nature of girl-child allure. It is always hard to look at a blank page so I am getting the ball rolling by making a list of definitions in an attempt to frame how I will be handling the topic and its connection to other scholarly disciplines. When I am satisfied with my first pass, I will share a link to that page.

Expanding Database: The first phase of the films list has been completed. Now work is underway on the ‘Artists by Name’. So far, artists have been listed that were leads from our readers in the past few months in addition to artists covered in the Pigtails Library.

Science behind Lolicon Appeal?  On the one hand, it is an easy thing to say that the popularity of sexually-suggestive or explicit manga and anime is simple libido. That is certain a driving force, but it is also an oversimplification which does not take into account the interactions of mental processes and specific sensory cues. Coincidentally, an associate found a book, Understanding Loliism: A Grasp on Loli Appeal by Kai Wei, that seems to deal with this subject (I can’t vouch for how well since I haven’t read it). At first blush, it appears more of an explanation of how Loli culture developed and the form it has taken. I would be curious to hear from readers on how intelligently this book handles the subject and if anyone can recommend a book that tries to tackle the subject scientifically.

The Art of Girls Residence

(Last Updated On March 5, 2020)

I will call the artist Girls Residence because that appears to be his preferred professional name in English.  Girls Residence is Japanese, and in the far east artists commonly use pseudonyms.  His artist’s name in Japanese is 伸長に関する考察. His Japanese name can be written in the Roman alphabet as “Shinchō ni Kansuru Kōsatsu”.  Fantia, a Japanese artist’s website, translates the name into English as “Consideration on Elongation”.  I think “Study of Growth” is a more natural sounding translation.  He also uses the German name Backfischalter. He specializes in drawings of girls, usually age 7 through 16 years old.

In Japan there has long been an interest in glamor and erotica featuring young girls.  Photography, including nude photography, of young girls was popular in Japan in the last part of the 20th century.  The photography could not legally include any sexual activity, but still aroused some controversy, and when the internet made these Japanese nude photos available to people in other countries, pressure was put on Japan to outlaw nude photography of minors.  It was outlawed in 1999, but drawings and paintings remained legal.  There are many artists in Japan who draw young girls in manga (comics) and anime (animated cartoons), but no other is quite like Girls Residence.

Girls Residence does not illustrate manga stories.  His drawings usually show girls in ordinary situations; at school, celebrating holidays, playing sports, at the pool, etc.  What makes him unique is that his girls are given a name, age, height, and weight.  His drawings realistically portray how a girl of the designated age and measurements would actually appear.  For example, the first illustration is a New Year’s greeting posted on Girls Residence’s page at Fantia.  The girl is Kana Hasegawa, a fictional character created by Girls Residence.  Kana is 10 years old, 135.8 cm tall, and weighs  31.4 kg.  The height and weight are realistic for a normal 10-year old Japanese girl.  Her clothing and hairstyle are also realistic for what a Japanese girl might wear on New Year’s Day 2020.  Although this is from a Japanese site, the greeting is in English.

Girls Residence – Happy New Year 2020

Girls Residence usually draws Japanese girls, but he sometimes draws girls of other races.  The following illustration compares a typical 11-year-old Japanese girl and a 12-year-old American girl.

Girls Residence – Haruka-chan (11) and Dororu Lelou (12) who came from the United States of the 1950s-2017

Girls Residence publishes his art on the Japanese websites Fantia and Pixiv.  He also creates art books of his illustrations. The following three pictures are the front covers of some of his books.  The first is the cover of Tiddlywinks.  The girl is Yuka Fujino (11 years old, 142.7cm tall, weight 31.2kg).  The next cover, of Puberties, features the Tachibana sisters Ayano (10yo / 140cm / 31.4 kg), and Ayaka (13yo / 153cm / 44.7kg).  Kana Hasegawa, the same girl that gave the New Year’s greeting for 2020, is on the cover of Morphology.  Even though these girls have names, all of the characters drawn by Girls Residence are fictional.

Girls Residence – Tiddlywinks Cover (2017)

Girls Residence – Puberties Cover 2019

Girls Residence – Morphology Cover (2019)

Most of Girls Residence’s pictures are rendered in at least two versions; one clothed and one nude.  Often there are other versions as well, such as in underwear and with or without suntan.  Most of the nude versions are available only to those who subscribe to the Girls Residence fanclub at Fantia, or to those who purchase his books.  To be fair to the artist I have not included any of those pictures in this post, but the following two pictures with nude versions are available free on his Pixiv page.  In the first picture, News of C91,  Kana Hasegawa on the right tells you where and when to find the site at the Comic Convention where they are selling Girls Residence’s art book Chrysalis.  Yuka Fujino on the left says that she looks forward to seeing you there.  The caption on the bottom informs the reader that the girls will not really be at the convention.  The next two illustrations appear in the book Chrysalis as well as the Pixiv site.  These show, from left to right, a 6th grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade girl in swimsuits and nude.  The title, I’m Sorry, seems strange.  Also notice that unlike most of Girls Residence’s variations, the eyes are shifted between the clothed and nude versions of both illustrations.

Girls Residence – News of C91 (uniforms) (2016)

Girls Residence – News of C91 (nude) (2016)

Girls Residence – I’m Sorry (swimsuit) (2016)

Girls Residence – I’m Sorry (nude) (2016)

On Pixiv, both News of C91 and I’m Sorry are as shown here; they are not censored. However, the picture I’m Sorry is censored in the book Chrysalis.  The pubic areas of the girls are pixilated in the book.  Censorship seems to be applied inconsistently by Japanese illustrators, including Girls Residence.  The Pixiv site is hosted in Japan.  Search for nude illustrations on that site, and you will find that some artists censor their pictures while others do not.  As far as I can tell, it appears to be left up to the discretion of the individual artist.  Girls Residence does not censor his work on Pixiv or Fantia, but he does censor it in all of his books.  The books are published and sold in Japan, so why would they have different standards of censorship for books than websites that are hosted in Japan?

In addition to his own art books, Girls Residence collaborates with Yasuda Juku (also known as Yasuda Yasuhiro) in producing educational books.  Yasuda writes the text for these books, while Girls Residence illustrates them.  Girls Residence uses a clean, realistic style which is well suited for educational pictures.  All necessary detail is shown with no areas in shadow as may occur in a photograph.  On the other hand, the illustrations are not cluttered with unnecessary detail that could distract the viewer.  The next two pictures are the front and back covers of  Growth and Development in Japanese Girls, Trends and Perspectives.  The girls on the covers are Ayaka Tachibana and Kana Hasegawa.

Girls Residence – Growth and Development Front Cover (2017)

Girls Residence – Growth and Development Back Cover (2017)

This is a very interesting book.  It contains 27 pages, in addition to the covers.  Fourteen pages contain only text, or text with graphs.  Four pages have both text and illustrations.  There are nine pages of illustrations with only minimal or no text.  Therefore, the main part of the book is text, with some illustrations to support the wording.  The book includes copious references to serious scientific and medical works, most in Japanese but some in English.  Viewing the book in isolation, it would appear to be primarily educational, with some artistic illustrations added as “medical contrivances”.  However, the book is promoted and sold in venues with other works of manga and hentai.  I have not been able to find it sold by vendors of medical, scientific, or educational books.

It is hard to classify Growth and Development in Japanese Girls, Trends and Perspectives as art or educational.  It, and the other collaborations of Girls Residence and Yasuda Juku are both. Yasuda Juku makes the following description of Growth and Development in Japanese Girls, Trends and Perspectives on his Fantia page.  I have used translate Google to translate it from Japanese: “[It is a] super sex education art book & essay with pictures by Consideration about Elongation. Based on medical knowledge and physical data, what is the difference between third graders, fourth graders, fifth graders, and sixth graders? Junior high school students? Menarche? What about pubic hair? How tall are they? Bust? [This book will] answer questions visually, such as. Girl physique that I want to deliver to everyone who draws girls.”

The following are Girls Residence illustrations for books by Yasuda Juku.  The cover of Child Health and Physical Education features Lisa (10yo/144cm/36kg/B2/Ph2), Kana Hasegawa and Ayaka Tachibana.  Four girls on the cover of Child Sexual Education are Yurina Yamashina (14yo / 155.6cm / 48.1kg / B4 / Ph4), Mana Onodera (7yo / 118.6cm / 22.2kg / B1 / Ph1), Kana Hasegawa (10yo / 135.8cm / 31.4kg / B2 / Ph1), and Aoi Yoshikawa (16yo / 157.3cm / 51.6kg / B5 / Ph5).  The next illustration shows Kana Hasegawa and Rena Okazaki  (9yo/130cm/27.3kg/B1/Ph1) announcing a lecture by Yasuda Juku about his book Child Sexual Education.  Why are Kana and Rena wearing fox ears to announce a lecture?

Girls Residence – Child Health and Physical Education Cover (2018)

Girls Residence – Child Sexual Education (2017)

Girls Residence – Lecture Announcement (2017)

The next illustration is a sample page posted by the manga bookseller Toranoana from the book Sixth Grade Elementary School Picture Book by Yasuda Juku, illustrated by Girls Residence.  The girl is Nozomi Naruse (12yo / 144.9cm / 34.0kg / B2 / Ph1).  The text explains that she is often mistaken for a fifth grade student because she is smaller and less developed than most sixth graders.  The table at the bottom of the page gives her measurements.

Girls Residence – Fifth Grade Elementary School Record Sample Page (2019)

The final three pictures are  a few of Girls Residence works that I find particularly pleasing.  The first shows Haruka Inoue (11yo / 142.7cm / 34.8kg / B3 / Ph1) and Ayano Tachibana (10yo / 140cm / 31.4 kg) modeling their school uniforms.   The second shows Kana and Haruka ready for Halloween, and the last shows Girls Residence marching band with Rena Okazaki (9yo / 130cm / 27.3kg / B1 / Ph1) playing the fife, Kana Hasegawa (10yo / 135cm / 30.2kg / B2 / Ph1) as drum major, and Ayano Tachibana (10yo / 140cm / 31.4 kg / B2 / Ph1) on the drum.

Girls Residence – Classroom girls (2018)

Girls Residence – Girls Who Want Candy (2017)

Girls Residence – Extracurricular Activities Cover Drawing (2018)

Maiden Voyages: March 2020

(Last Updated On March 3, 2020)

Thanks go to Christian for putting up the 9-year-old anniversary post last month.

The Madness Continues: There is a new item regarding the controversial portrayal of girls through the medium of anime. This time, it is a motion in the Australian parliament.

Fond Memories: One of our readers who does video interviews on YouTube has taken an interest in the participants of the High Feather TV series introduced in a post by RJ. Here is a link to a recent interview with Terence Taylor, the associate producer of the show. It is the hope of the interviewer to eventually reach more of the High Feather cast as well.

A Six-Year-Old Menace? One of my associates forwarded this item about a police officer who found it necessary to bind first grader Kaia Rolle’s hands together and put her in a police car. There is also coverage from The Guardian which requires registration to view the entire article.

Nine years of Pigtails in Paint — a poetic celebration

(Last Updated On January 23, 2020)
Sam Hood - Nine girls in a Shirley Temple look-alike contest (1934)

Sam Hood – Nine girls in a Fox Films and Daily Telegraph Shirley Temple look-alike contest (1934)

Today we celebrate a a wondrous event: Pigtails in Paint is still alive and well after 9 years. The blog knew many tribulations. It was suppressed a first time by WordPress in September 2012, then a second time by Jaguar PC (its Internet service provider) in December 2016, under the false pretext of “child pornography.” More recently, the British police mounted a provocation against our new Internet service provider, first arresting him, then releasing him on bail and confiscating several of his computers. The pretext was the publication of images from the Ignatz Award-nominated comic Daddy’s Girl by Debbie Dreschler, a totally legal artwork, which they falsely claimed to be “child pornography.”

Ever since the Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death for “corrupting youth,” bigots of all stripes have tried to suppress ideas, literature and art that they dislike under the accusation of “obscenity” or “harming youth.” But they will always be countered by enthusiastic supporters of beauty and freedom.

The above photograph, taken by Sam Hood on October 2, 1934, comes from the State Library of New South Wales. The 9 little girls, of various ages, who look very different from each other despite their attempt to resemble Shirley Temple, symbolise the variety of the blog’s topics, of its authors and readers.

Eric Stahlberg - Hilda Conkling (1920)

Eric Stahlberg – Hilda Conkling (1920)

To celebrate this 9th anniversary, I offer a poem by Hilda Conkling, from her second collection of verses, Shoes of the Wind. Her photograph comes from Poems by a Little Girl, her first collection.

by Hilda Conkling

Do you know how nine comes?
The fairies have numbers, all my ages,
Sharp on a piece of card-board:
They cut out and spirit out my number,
Nine . . .
They come to the window softly . . .
Then they give it life . . . open the window.
It flies in, it bumps me on the forehead,
But does not wake me:
Just before morning breaks it fades back into my brain
And is my age.

Source:: Hilda Conkling, Shoes of the Wind, A Book of Poems (1922), from the digitisation of the original edition on Internet Archive. This poem was published on Agapeta on October 16, 2016.

Maiden Voyages: February 2020

(Last Updated On February 2, 2020)

The Dot Org Blowback: Pressure is mounting regarding the commercial sale of the .org domains. Here is an article about protesters in Los Angeles directed at the ICANN Board. As mentioned in last month’s ‘Maiden Voyages’, such a sale would be a blow against freedom of speech as corporate interests tend to minimize costs and hassle by appealing to the lowest common denominator of public sensibility.

An Ironic Blow for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse: Readers are probably aware of the UK police’s interest in the Debbie Dreschler images posted on Pigtails. Clearly these images were not meant as titillation but a way of expressing a kind of terror these children have experienced. But now even written descriptions of this trauma is being treated as child pornography as in the prosecution of Quebec author Yvan Godbout. This is nowhere near where we should be drawing a line in the sand!

Parenting in the Spotlight: The problem with being a celebrity is that every little thing you do is noticed and commented on. Parents are especially vulnerable since they, like almost any parent, are proud of their children and want to show them off. This time it is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and an image of his 2-year-old Jasmine posted on Instagram. There is also a sweet story about Jasmine celebrating her 4th birthday.

Street Muse: An associate sent me a couple of videos of a young girl violinist named Karolina Protsenko. In order to promote her albums, she does street performances of her cover songs (for example, here and here) and posts them on her YouTube Channel. Although her smile is certainly a requisite part of her performance, it is moving in its warmth and authenticity.

No Longer Sheepish: Pip forwarded an interesting article about Najiah Knight, a now 13-year-old bull rider.

The Highest Form of Flattery: They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. For a while, an article about Graham Ovenden has been in the works to be published in Alice Lovers Magazine (Issue #4). For the most part, it is a reprint of the article I wrote a few years ago along with some revisions.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, the pinnacle of the realistic depiction of human form

(Last Updated On January 24, 2020)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Sur le rocher

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Sur le rocher (1872)

For a few years I have been astonished to find no article in Pigtails in Paint devoted to the paintings by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905), since most of them represent women and girls. The closest to it is the humorous piece “Bouguereau Remastered” by Pip, about contemporary works incorporating parts of paintings by Bouguereau in a totally different setting, usually with some satirical bent.

Although he is today not widely known by the large public, and he has been reviled by the modern art establishment throughout the 20th century, in his lifetime Bouguereau was considered as one of the greatest painters in the world. In his own country, France, he received many awards and official distinctions, and he presided over several academies and art salons; in the USA many millionaires eagerly bought his works.

He belongs to the tradition of classical academic art, later derisively called in France “art pompier,” which translates as “fireman art.” This term probably comes from the shiny metallic helmets with horse-hair tails worn by French firemen in the 19th century, which are similar to those worn by heroes of Graeco-Roman mythology and history in such paintings. It also evokes the adjectives “Pompeian” or “pompous.” It suggests unimaginative and conventional academic art showing repeatedly stereotyped allegorical, mythological or historical scenes, or glorifying the powerful (in particular the emperor Napoleon), following the tradition of the two great French classicist painters Jacques-Louis David and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Les pommes

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Les pommes (1897)

Although Bouguereau’s early works followed academic conventions, he progressively developed his own lively personal style, with subjects looking like real persons, not a painting on a canvas. Look at the pictures in this article, the girls in them seem to be looking at you. In my view, his best works were made between 1870 and 1900, and indeed the eight paintings by him that I selected belong to that period.

Despite his reputation as one of the best painters ever, he was never satisfied with his work. He relentlessly pursued perfection and strove to endlessly correct and perfect his techniques and methods. He worked six days a week from six o’clock until nightfall, never stopping, even in old age. Although each painting took weeks to be completed, 828 paintings by him have been identified. For a detailed discussion of his techniques, see the article “Bouguereau at Work” by Mark Walker.

Bouguereau truly loved women, and many of his works depict women and girls, sometimes in a very sensuous manner, as in Nymphes et Satire, Naissance de Venus, La Vague, and La Perle. He also championed the integration of women in ateliers and official art courses, and helped open academies and salons to women painters.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Enfant au bain

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Enfant au bain (1886)

William Bouguereau was born on November 30, 1825, in La Rochelle, a coastal town in the department of Charente Maritime, southwest of France. At the age of 12, he went to stay with his uncle Eugène Bouguereau, a priest who had just been given a church in the parish of Mortagne sur Gironde. As a surrogate father and mentor, Eugène encouraged William’s interest in classical culture. In 1839, Eugène decided to send his nephew to study the classics at the college of Pons, where William received drawing lessons from Louis Sage, a young professor who had been a pupil of Ingres and was a committed classicist. He became convinced that persistent hard work was necessary in order to gain mastery over technical problems.

In 1841, the Bouguereau family moved to Bordeaux. William’s father intended to end his studies, so that he would train for bookkeeping for the family business. But with the support of his mother and friends, William could convince his father to let him enroll at the Bordeaux municipal art school. He gained admission directly into the senior class taught by Jean-Paul Alaux, attending morning classes, then working. Nevertheless, he soon won the 1844 prize for “Best Historical Painting,” although he was competing against older students who were enrolled full-time. Then William obtained his father’s permission to go to Paris to enter the École des Beaux-Arts. To pay his costs, he spent three months in the region painting oil portraits of the notable personalities of Saintonge.

With a letter of recommendation from Alaux to the painter François-Édouard Picot, he joined the latter’s studio, where he worked like a slave. In April 1846, Bouguereau was barely admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts, ranking 99th out of the 100 admitted. In 1848 he was allowed to make submissions in the three preliminary stages of the competition for the famous “Grand Prix de Rome.” Unable to decide between the two best candidates, the members of the Académie awarded two second Grands Prix, one to Bouguereau and the other to Gustave Boulanger. The following year he again entered the competition, but his painting did not even get a mention while Boulanger received the first Grand Prix. Finally, in 1850, Bouguereau competed for the third time and won the Premier Grand Prix.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Au pied de la falaise

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Au pied de la falaise (1886)

The prize allowed the winner to spend an all-expenses paid year to study in the Villa Medici in Rome, administered by the painter Jean Alaux. There Bouguereau met several older artists, and he was able to study the Italian old masters and also Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities. For his work assignments, he painted his first masterpieces.

He returned afterwards to Bordeaux, where he painted first a few family portraits, then left for La Rochelle to decorate the villa of wealthy relatives. At the end of 1854, he settled down in Paris, decorating rooms. The Salon of 1857 bestowed the Medal of Honour on Bouguereau. The Emperor Napoleon III then commissioned him to paint his portrait as well as one of the Empress. From that point on, Bouguereau became a young celebrity. In 1857, he began teaching students of his own.

In 1862, he totally altered his painting technique as he laboured relentlessly, looking for new approaches in the use of color. From the late 1860s forward his greatest body of work commenced, along with the style and subjects for which he is well known.

In 1872, Bouguereau secured a part-time teaching post at the Academy Julian, and in 1875, he became part of the permanent staff of that institution. In 1876, after twelve prior attempts, he was elected to the highest titular rank of the Institute’s Académie des Beaux-Arts. In 1881, the Société des Artistes Français was founded in order to manage the annual arts Salon; Bouguereau was elected the first president of the Painting section.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - La pêche aux grenouilles

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – La pêche aux grenouilles (1882)

In 1882, he bought a house in La Rochelle, where he spent his summers. In 1886, he attended a reception at the college in Pons as president of the alumni association; in the course of the festivities, he offered a self-portrait to his first professor Louis Sage and reminded him of the debt of gratitude he owed him.

Following a dispute with the painter Meissonier and his supporters over a detail in regulations, Bouguereau resigned as president of the Société des Artistes Français, but there was a split, and the breakaway Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts was founded, with its own Salon held at the Champ de Mars.

Bouguereau married twice. In 1856, William began living with one of his models, Nelly Monchablon, aged 19. Their liaison remained first secret, and the couple married on May 24, 1866. They had five children, but four of them died in William Bouguereau’s lifetime; only his eldest daughter Henriette outlived him. Nelly herself died on April 3, 1877. The grief from the death of his children inspired some of his his most beautiful religious works, such as Pieta and Vierge Consolatrice.

Among his pupils was Elizabeth Jane Gardner, an American expatriate. After the death of Nelly, he wanted to marry her, but his mother made him swear he would not remarry within her lifetime. They were secretly engaged in May 1879. Finally, after his mother’s death, he and Elizabeth married in Paris in June 1896. She worked as his private secretary, and as a painter herself, she had always strove to emulate William’s style.

Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau - Dans le jardin

Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau – Dans le jardin (1878)

By 1900, the loss of a fourth child, his 32-year-old son Paul, dealt a severe blow to his mind and body. Exhausted by years of hard work, heavy smoking, and excessive eating and drinking, he began to age very quickly. One can indeed see a decline in the quality of his paintings from that year.

In 1903, he was made a Grand Officer de la Légion d’Honneur, the highest French official distinction. He was invited to Rome to participate in the centenary of the Villa Medici, he made the trip with Elizabeth. By the end of that year, it proved too difficult for him to hold a pencil or a paintbrush and he found himself nearly unable to work. Sensing that the end was near, he left Paris in the middle of the night on July the 31st, 1905, to return to his beloved La Rochelle, where he died on August 19. He is buried with Nelly and his children at the family vault at Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris.

Although Bouguereau knew glory in his lifetime, he also had his adversaries in the world of art, mainly in the new schools of “modern art,” starting with impressionism. Edgar Degas invented the verb “bouguereauter” to designate the academic technique of licked finish to smooth the surface of a painting and make the brushstrokes invisible, a characteristic feature of Bouguereau’s painting. Indeed, the impressionists preferred a rougher result, with visible brushstrokes. The writer Joris-Karl Huysmans compared his painting to the “soft flesh of an octopus.” Paul Gauguin loathed Bouguereau and mocked him in his writings. His opponents included also one of his former pupils; according to the biography of William Bouguereau by Damien Bartoli with Fred Ross:

Some students, however, caused problems. The most famous of these was Matisse, who quickly dropped out of Bouguereau’s studio. From the start, the benevolent master tried to encourage Matisse, but soon threw up his hands in exasperation, noting the young man’s weaknesses, “You badly need to learn perspective,” he said to him, “But first, you need to know how to hold a pencil. You will never know how to draw.”

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Jeune fille allant à la fontaine

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Jeune fille allant à la fontaine (1885)

After World War I and the rise of expressionism, Dadaism, cubism, then non-figurative painting or “abstract expressionism,” Bouguereau became reviled by art critics. He was accused of “mawkishness” and “lubricity,” of painting to satisfy the tastes of rich buyers, etc. He progressively got out of art manuals, except as a counter-example of what should not be done. His works were less and less exhibited, and he became largely unknown by the public.

According to Fred Ross, the businessman and art collector who founded the Art Renewal Center, Bouguereau’s works were selling for an average of $500 to $1500 in 1960. He himself owns 13 Bouguereau works, and he said that when he bought his first one in 1977 (for about $4,000), they could be purchased for $10,000. This rejection by the art market extended to much of 19th century classical painting. According to Dalya Alberge, in 1965 a painting by John William Waterhouse was sold by the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro to a private collector for £200 (about $300).

Since the 1980’s there has been a revival of interest in Bouguereau, exhibitions were organised, and in parallel, the prices of his works rose steadily. The highest known to date is that of La Charité, sold $3,520,000 at Christie’s in May 2000. This is nevertheless much lower than the prices of the 89 most expensive paintings (all above $60,000,000). This list clearly excludes classical painting, since in chronological order after a Rembrandt of 1634, the next one is by the American realist painter Thomas Eakins, dated 1875. Afterwards there are only works from the various schools of “modern art,” starting with impressionists and ending with non-figurative paintings and pop art; moreover, these make the overwhelming majority of the list.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Petite fille au bouquet

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Petite fille au bouquet (1896)

One of the earliest 20th century defenders of Bouguereau was the Spanish painter Salvador Dali. In his 1956 pamphlet Les cocus du vieil art moderne (“The cuckolds of the old modern art”) published by Grasset & Fasquelles, the first chapter counter-poses modern ugliness, headed by Picasso, to Bouguereau.

Beside Stalinists, he identifies two types of “cuckolds” in art: the Dadaist who has wanted to assassinate painting, and the dithyrambic modern art critics, self-cocufying through the former, married to the old modern painting and forever cheated by it. Hating classicism, these critics became attracted by ugliness and found a new beauty in it. So, to keep attuned with critics, painters strove to make ugly works in order to be modern. Now “Picasso, who fears everything, was making ugly things for fear of Bouguereau.” An editor’s footnote relates that one day Picasso showed to a friend his latest work, a collage of newspaper pieces, and told his voiceless friend “This is maybe not sublime, but, anyway, it is no Bouguereau.” Dali adds that contrarily to others, Picasso made ugly things on purpose, cuckolding thus those dithyrambic critics.

But, as Picasso is an anarchist, after having half stabbed Bouguereau, he would give the puntilla, and dispatch modern art with one blow, by making uglier himself alone in a single day than all others gathered in several years.

Pablo Picasso - William Adolphe Bouguereau

Pablo Picasso – William Adolphe Bouguereau

(The puntilla is a knife with a short and wide blade, used to dispatch the bull in the corrida.) Indeed, Dali asserts that contrarily to many others, Picasso, like Raphael, knows where real beauty is. I also quote now from a telegram he sent to Picasso:

Thanks Pablo! Your latest ignominious paintings have killed modern art. Without you, with the taste and restraint that are the very virtues of French caution, we would have had ever uglier painting, for at least a hundred years, until one reached your sublime adfesios esperpentos. You, with all the violence of your Iberian anarchism, in a few weeks you reached the limits and last consequences of abomination.

(The expression adfesios esperpentos designates ugly and ridiculous characters, like scarecrows.) Finally, on a side panel, Dali makes the following prediction:

Within ten years, one will say that, as a painter, Picasso was not so good as that, and Bouguereau was not so bad as that.

Gamma-Keystone - Salvador Dali helping to load in a truck a copy of the painting Nymphs And Satyr by Bouguereau

Gamma-Keystone – Salvador Dali helping to load in a truck a copy of the painting Nymphs And Satyr by Bouguereau

I am usually not very fond of pronouncements by Dali, as they usually consist of a mixture of narcissism and purposeful extravagance, but here his words resonate with me. I don’t like any painting by Picasso, except his early realistic works, and to me, the so-called “abstract expressionism” of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, or Barnett Newman, as well as a large part of the so-called “contemporary art” represents a repugnant antithesis to art.

It has been argued that “abstract art” is neither abstract nor art. The word “abstraction” refers first to extracting key features and relations from a concrete situation, discarding others. If also means abstract concepts that can represent many different concrete instances, as in mathematics. But “abstract expressionism” does not represent any idea or reality, even in a symbolic form, it is just meaningless. Jackson Pollock creates his paintings by just randomly dribbling, spraying and splashing paint on a canvas.

Moreover, the word “art” usually implies skill and craftsmanship. But no skills are necessary here. The post “The Blind Art Collector” by Ron presents a 4-year-old girl named Marla Olmstead who spontaneously paints in the “abstract expressionist” style. It has also a link to a 2014 YouTube video devoted to Aelita Andre, a girl who at age 5, without any formal training, painted in the manner of Jackson Pollock, her works selling for thousands of dollars; in it, she called her style “abstract,” and she made a live painting performance in front of an audience of 20,000. She has her own official YouTube channel and website, in which a former director of an academy is quoted saying “Aelita Andre is Modern Art.”

To me, this does not represent real child prodigies—although these girls have a gift—but the infantilisation of art. No child, even with intensive training, ever painted like Rembrandt at age 5. In fact, such an art does not even require a human being to be created, indeed great apes have painted in the “abstract expressionist” style: the chimpanzee Congo, and orangutans in several zoos, in particular the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the New Mexico BioPark Society, where several other animal species, in particular gorillas, created “abstract” art. Primate art is sold at charities in order to raise funds for wildlife conservation projects.

Non-figurative painting has inspired several hoaxes. The most famous one is the 1910 painting Et le soleil s’endormit sur l’Adriatique (“And the sun fell asleep over the Adriatic sea”) attributed to an unknown artist named Joachim-Raphaël Boronali. In fact, it had been made by attaching a paintbrush to the tail of an ass named Lolo, and Boronali is an anagram of Aliboron, the ass in a poem by Jean de La Fontaine. In February 1964, four paintings by a previously unknown avant-garde French artist named Pierre Brassau were exhibited at an art show in Göteborg, Sweden. Many critics praised them, but they were in fact the works of a chimpanzee named Peter from Sweden’s Boras zoo.

It is time to forget caricatures of art and to return to the two ideals revered by Bouguereau: truth and beauty. And as his life shows, achieving them requires discipline and hard work.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Une petite fille

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Une petite fille (1886)

Note on the sources: I downloaded from the website of the Art Renewal Center the painting by Elizabeth Gardner and the first two by William Bouguereau. Saving images there at their original size (1000 pixels in the highest dimension) requires careful use of Firefox tools. High-definition images are available to subscribers. Generally, their images have a soft aspect, which reminds of the technique of glazing. All other Bouguereau images used here come from The Athenaeum. In that site, they are generally larger, with bright colours and a vivid contrast. Many images are also available on WikiArt, but the references given there are not always accurate. Bouguereau’s paintings are often given titles in English, but the French title of many of them can be found on the French Wikipedia.

For the artist’s life, I followed mainly the article “Biography of William Bouguereau” by Damien Bartoli with Fred Ross. Complementary information was found in the English and French Wikipedia pages on Bouguereau.

Readers interested in Bouguereau’s technique may consult the article “Bouguereau at Work” by Mark Walker. I did not use it.

For Dali’s pamphlet, I used the 2013 reprint by Grasset. All quotes by him were in French, I translated them into English myself. The drawing from Picasso was downloaded from artnet.

Random Images: P. Gordon

(Last Updated On January 22, 2020)

This is an oft-used play on words. I have seen many postcards with this theme which is a kind of contrivance for displaying an image of a cute naked little girl in public media. Although quite a few of “his” postcards are on the secondary market, biographical information is hard to come by.

P. Gordon – ‘Two Bares Cartoon’ (1907)

Random Images: Marc Molk

(Last Updated On January 22, 2020)

Marc Molk (b1972) is a painter and a writer. Although he did not paint many children, he painted a few. I’m afraid I can no longer locate this image on the internet so I have almost no specifics about it.

Marc Molk – (Title Unknown) (2008?)

The artist has an official website but be patient; the images he uploaded are very high resolution and take a while to load onto the screen. There is a nice article on the artist’s work by Boum!Bang!.

Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie

(Last Updated On January 22, 2020)

I would guess that most already know who Annie is. For the benefit a few of the younger readers who may not be familiar with her, she is the protagonist of the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. Annie is a young orphan girl who left the orphanage to become the ward of the incredibly rich Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. She then battled dangerous criminals around the world with the help of Daddy Warbucks and his bodyguards, Punjab and the Asp. Her courage, common sense, and integrity made her one of the most popular fictional characters of the 20th century.

Harold Gray- Little Orphan Annie (1937)

Little Orphan Annie was not in the local newspaper when I was growing up, so it was not one of the comics I read frequently as a child. I read it a few times in out-of-town newspapers, but because Annie’s adventures continued over many issues of the paper, I was never able to follow a complete story. Millions of people did follow Little Orphan Annie from its inception in 1924 until Harold Gray’s death in 1968, and it became one of the most popular comic strips in the world. The strip was continued by other artists until 2010. It has inspired movies and a popular musical. What made Little Orphan Annie loved by so many?

Harold Gray- Little Orphan Annie (1964)

Many believe that the choice of a female protagonist for the strip helped its popularity. Harold Gray stated that he chose a young girl of about eleven years old as his protagonist because there were many more boys than girls in the comics at that time, especially in the adventure strips. A girl would make his strip different and stand out. He modeled the character with frizzy red hair and a red dress after a street urchin he once met. The name Annie is derived from the poem Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Gray initially planned the strip about a boy called Little Orphan Otto. He changed the character to a girl at the request of the Chicago Tribune Syndicate, which published the strip.

Regardless of whose idea it was to make the strip about a girl, it was a huge success. A girl in the lead role caught the readers’ attention in the 1920s. Feminism was becoming mainstream, but female heros were still relatively rare. Annie’s blank eyes, and the eyes of other characters, also grabbed the reader. I don’t know why Gray decided to draw eyes without pupils, but the vacant orbs drew the viewer into the strip.

In addition to the fact that a girl heroine was unusual, I believe that a girl who is being mistreated, or who is in a dangerous situation, arouses more sympathy than a boy in similar circumstances. It is in our genes that we should feel this way. For a population to survive and reproduce, it is necessary to have sperm cells, egg cells, and wombs. Sperm and eggs are abundant, but wombs are not. Anybody who has a womb, therefore, is more important for the survival of the population than those who do not have wombs (by the reckoning of evolutionary theory). It may be sexist and unfair, but nevertheless true that evolution has hardwired our nervous systems to be more alarmed by a damsel in distress than by a male in a similar plight.

Another advantage of a girl as the heroine is that it may have been easier for children, both boys and girls, to identify with a character whose ability to fight was no greater than an ordinary child. It is socially acceptable for Annie to be an ordinary little girl, relying on Punjab or Asp to provide the muscle when confronted by tough adult male criminals. A boy would be expected to fight for himself. If he beat the bad guy it would be unrealistic and children would have a harder time identifying with him. If he relied on others to fight for him he would be perceived as a wimp.

Note that Punjab and the Asp are both people of color; Punjab from India and the Asp from an unnamed country in East Asia. I believe Gray made these characters non-white to make them exotic, rather than for diversity. Regardless of his reasons, Harold Gray was ahead of his time by including racial diversity in his comic. This is noticeable in the following strip from 1942. Annie had organized a “Junior Commando” unit to help with the war effort on the home front. The strip inspired real children to imitate Annie’s work by forming real Junior Commando organizations. At that time the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was not part of the Army. It became the Women’s Army Corps, part of the Army, the following year. Black soldiers were not integrated into the same units as whites until after the war. Annie’s unit had boys and girls in the same unit, and she even made an African-American boy a sergeant with authority over white members of the unit! At the time this was quite radical, and the strip aroused some controversy.

Harold Gray- Little Orphan Annie (1942)

Don’t think this means that Gray was the kind of person who would be considered “woke” today. He was the opposite; a rugged individualist who despised government programs, socialism, labor unions, the New Deal, and President Roosevelt. The characters in Little Orphan Annie echo Gray’s personal and political philosophy. Note that in the first strip in this post, the Asp even disdains the role of government in enforcing the law and punishing criminals. Asp, like Annie, Daddy Warbucks, and Harold Gray himself, would rather do it himself than depend on the government. Daddy Warbucks died of despair in 1944 because Franklin Roosevelt was reelected. In 1945 his death was changed to a coma. He recovered and was back in the strip.

Little Orphan Annie was adapted as a movie in 1932, 1938, 1982, 1999, and 2014. It was a Broadway musical in 1977. Little Orphan Annie is also featured in many children’s books and toys. Annie has appeared in the Dick Tracy comic strip after Little Orphan Annie was discontinued. The following illustrations are a Little Orphan Annie strip from 1970, drawn by Tex Blaisdell, and Aileen Quinn as Annie in the 1982 movie.

Tex Blaisdell- Little Orphan Annie (1970)

Columbia Pictures- Aileen Quinn as Annie (1982)