My Reflections on Graham Stuart Ovenden

As Pigtails in Paint celebrates its 12th anniversary, one understandably reflects on milestones. The biggest in my life and to many others is the passing on December 9th last year of my friend, Graham Ovenden. The funeral was on January 27th and attended by about 30 people. This post also commemorates February 11th which would have been his 80th birthday.

Graham Ovenden – The Shadow Self : Philosophers (date unknown)

The Approach: Probably like many others, I often assume that people with a certain notoriety will be unapproachable, either because they adopt the attitude of a prima donna or their entourage works to insulate them from their rabid fans. I was impressed with the scope of Graham’s work and upon working on Pigtails, realized that he held key information that would help us break open the “Cult of the Girl Child”. I had no idea how to proceed and was shocked when a close associate simply gave me his phone number. I was nervous and postponed calling him wondering if it was OK to just cold call him. It turned out great and that cold call led to a 45-minute conversation. It turns out Graham had a good sense of a person’s authenticity and he knew I was “the real McCoy” even though he did not “know me from Adam”.

Bad Timing: We had three great conversations before he expressed concern over our continued communication. He was just about to face trial and his friends advised him that including a new person in his life was too great a risk so he asked if I would stop contacting him any more until after the trial. I was disappointed, of course, but respected his wishes. I found out later that one of his American friends familiar with Pigtails strenuously discouraged contact and the perceived harm to his reputation. This friend has since reversed his opinion and we have actually had some productive dealings which led to the expansion of the PIgtails Library.

A Real Friend: It is common knowledge that the trials did not go well and Graham had to serve prison time. Fortunately, I had been in contact with a few of his friends and they were good enough to keep me apprised of his situation. A short while after his release, I was startled to find a letter from the UK in my mailbox. It included contact information so we could continue our association and I knew that he was just as cognizant of our chemistry as I was. I am eternally grateful for the efforts of Robin Hanbury-Tenison, a long-time loyal friend of Graham’s, for reconnecting us.

Soul Mate: From my perspective, Graham and I had a great rapport and I was later delighted that he recognized it as well and, in his frank manner, told me so. Our conversations were great and we emailed back and forth but I felt he was hinting that I should visit him in person. I am not fond of travel, but I realized that we could cover a lot more ground by spending some time in person. I planned and made my first visit in the summer of 2016.

Lucky Timing: I had never travelled outside the US except under the auspices of the US Army in my youth. I had heard that one should arrive at the airport at least 3 hours in advance of one’s flight. I did so and toiled through the process and patiently waited at the designated gate for my flight. I was so early that I had not realized my flight was switched to another gate and was surprised to hear my name over the intercom. I was redirected to the correct gate but I had gotten there too late and they gave away my seat. The airline scrambled to get me on another flight to the UK. The good luck was that I got a direct flight and so I ended up at my destination at roughly the same time as originally expected; I simply had to wait a few more hours for my replacement flight. I did not have a cell phone at the time so I had no convenient way to inform Graham of the change. When I arrived in country and took the train to Liskeard, Cornwall, it turned out that I was on the train just after the one they expected me on! Graham and a good friend of his, Jack, were still there waiting for me!

Living in a Museum: As far as I was concerned, I was staying in a museum. Graham was an avid collector and fit what he could into that small flat. The visit was overwhelming and I did my best to take notes and Graham was gracious enough to scan interesting items that could sometime appear on Pigtails. I tell people that if Graham had lived in Las Vegas, I would have visited him there. I was not that interested in the place, but I have to say I fell in love with Cornwall and his friends were delightful. They were understandably suspicious of this new friend of Graham’s but they too realized that I was the real deal.

Paying It Forward: One of the artists I learned about who really impressed me during the visit was Brian Partridge. I made a point of featuring him on this site early on. Brian and Graham had a long collaborative relationship and they lost touch during Graham’s incarceration. All he had on Brian was his mailing address. I took it upon myself to write to him and let him know how to get in touch again. I was delighted by the outcome because I got to see a lot more of Brian’s work and spoke with him on the phone a couple of times. As a token of appreciation, Graham sent me an annotated copy of the Garage Press publication of Brain’s work. It’s kind of like having an original manuscript.

Friendship Credentials: Graham was known for giving his friends gifts and, in a funny way, if one wants to show proof of their friendship with Graham, they need simply show the artifacts they were given, often including originals of his own artwork. I can boast two original portraits and a number of photographic prints. Graham bestowed me a special honor by signing a print of Sophie (a famous image from the cover of States of Grace). He told me he never signed photographs or prints and so it seems I have a unique item.

Reaching Out: Graham had an ambivalent relationship with technology. On the one hand, he experimented extensively with digital image manipulation such as the image appearing on this page, but he also resisted more convenient forms of communication such as Skype. He said he didn’t want to use such forms of communication to protect his friends but I suspect he didn’t want to cope with the steep learning curve. Because of this, I assumed he wasn’t interested in having a website to share his work and give his side of things. It turns out that I was mistaken and I am glad to have done him the service of connecting him with a website host who was also a fan of his. Fortunately, he also lived in the UK and could visit Graham in person to help him with any technical problems. This is why his personal and publishing (Garage Press) websites exist today.

Fly on the Wall: I was always kind of envious of journalists who got to speak with interesting personalities. I wish I had the presence of mind to bring an audio recorder during my visits because in retrospect, I realized we had a few fascinating conversations on a multitude of subjects that may have been of interest to others. We talked extensively about philosophy, history, politics and the arts. Graham educated me on Blues and Jazz and we shared a love of Classical music. Graham had an extensive phonograph collection and in my last couple of hours with him before my return home, we listened to Brahms’ Violin Concerto. Graham had the foresight to recognize the decline in his health and reached out to The British Library who happily accepted the donation. There are quite a few rare items in there including an interview with a woman who knew Lewis Carroll personally as a child.

Final Exhibition: Many times, Graham donated parts of his collect to exhibit in museums. With a lot of help from Jack—to whom he bequeathed this collection—he got to have one final show held in his home town of Liskeard displaying his Victorian and Edwardian photographs last October. It was well-attended and featured renowned photographers like Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Julia Margaret Cameron, Joseph Gale, George Ruff, Francis Bedford, Dorothea Lange and Lewis Hines.

Virtues and Vices: Of course whatever we may think of his work, Graham was also a man and had his foibles. He was a great collector and we can thank him for bringing all these interesting items together. However, he was kind of a pack rat and could not refrain from purchasing one more first edition even if the purchase worked against his interests. Collectors should be glad to know that a lot of interesting volumes will be appearing on the market sometime in the near future. I don’t envy Jack the task of cataloging and finding buyers for these items (Jack is a bookseller). This habit even had a little to do with his estrangement with his family; he even confessed one day that he was not really built to be a family man. However, his younger sister and brother remained supportive of him and are the executors of his estate. Since Graham was an invalid the entire time I knew him, he was always grateful when I went into town to get takeout food (the English call it takeaway). One of the items he always wanted was duck and if I was going to the Chinese place, I would always bring him some.

Graham Ovenden taught me so much in the time I got to know him but I know that was just the tip of the iceberg. I was fortunate to meet a few of his friends and I can understand why they were so loyal to him. He was a prolific painter and I came to understand that occupying himself with that work was instrumental in maintaining his sanity during the most trying times. I felt kind of guilty during my three visits because having my little space in the flat made painting impractical most of the time. Whenever I returned home, he would paint a flurry of new works. I could go on and on with anecdotes and I only knew him a short time. These will undoubtedly come out in due course as PIgtails publishes more posts and in responses to readers’ comments.


State of the Blog Address: 10th Anniversary Post

Some of you may know that today is the 10th anniversary of when Pip posted his first item. Pip’s idea was that due to excessive prudery, interesting and legitimate art was not available on the internet. At first, the site was to cover children of both genders but given that he had so much more material on girls, he decided to focus on that. Reaching this landmark is a testament to the approach we have taken on handling a sensitive subject. Although my lifestyle precludes me from spending much time on the site anymore, I do intend to keep it running as a resource as long as practicably possible. I have ceased the ‘Maiden Voyages’ posts but will post them occasionally when new information is offered by readers. Even if we were shut down tomorrow, Pigtails in Paint has gained new ground in spite of the zealous actions of people who would rather live with the simplicity of arbitrary standards rather than put thought into complex issues. There are certain important ideas that should be shared mostly to do with the reason for our success and what we all should strive for in the future. I will add these items to this post as I think of them over the next couple of days. I suggest readers check in again on the 20th to make sure they have not missed any items.

Base Impulses: it would be naive not to realize that most readers were drawn in by the allure of the girl children presented here or shocked at one artist’s presentation or another. One of the pitfalls I see most people fall into is misinterpreting their own response to the images. Children move us for a reason, in fact for their own protection. We treat them with kid gloves so they may develop into healthy adults. The assumption that this attraction is sexual (in the adult sense) is misleading and can lead to maladaptive behavior conditioned over time. It was not our intent to have a peep show of cuties (and let the chips fall where they may) and when I joined the team, I felt it important that all images should be accompanied by some kind of text. Some thought should be given to why we react to these images and not make simple assumptions about complex interpersonal issues.

Balancing Quality with Respect: When I mentioned the principle of having text for every post, my friend Graham Ovenden whole-heartedly agreed. In addition to that he felt it was also important to present images of high quality. There have been too many examples of bootleg productions—in print and on the net—that are poor reproductions and obviously pandering to prurient interests. On the other hand, we deliberately avoided sharing images of such high quality that someone might violate an artist’s copyright and profit without permission. So we tried to find a happy medium and in a few special cases present lower-grade items if it was felt important to present. Graham’s commitment to this idea is reflected in his beautiful publications under the banner of Garage Press.

Real Feminism: All the while working on this site, I would look within and ask myself what I am getting from the experience. One of the remarkable conclusions is that it is a genuinely feminist act. I began to realize that the problem with feminist movements in the past is that they are mostly run by women. It seems reasonable that women should take the lead in so-called women’s issues but the problem is the mentality of the war of the sexes, as though all men did not have women’s interests at heart. Given the typical personality and behavior of the “typical” woman, the success of such movements are ultimately limited. It is important that men and women be thought of as complementary partners and achieve greater results when working together. To that end, Pigtails in Paint presents two sides of girls: 1) who they really are and 2) what projections of fantasies we have of them. These fantasies are hard-wired in our brains and it is reckless not to acknowledge them and pretend that we only see girls for what they really are. I actually got some flak for this when someone accused me of endorsing the traditional paradigm of the “feminine mystique”. Despite conventional wisdom, this mystique is not strictly a cultural construction but a cultural manifestation of a primal response. Ignore it at your peril!

Animal Spirits: We must have a respect for the past as well as an eye for the future in equal measure. When it comes to the beauty of the human body and the acceptance of our sexual natures, there have been many movements in the past. The existence of naturist colonies is one of the modern remnants of that. While researching items for Pigtails, something that was on the periphery suddenly came into sharp focus. There is a modern day equivalent of the “hippie” movement and it is receiving a lot of ridicule as so many have received in the past. But these things don’t exist in a vacuum. People participate because there is something there for them they cannot get from mainstream society. What I am talking about is referred to as Furry Fandom. On the surface, it is a kind of ludicrous fantasy, but dig deeper (the values vary from person to person) and one finds a striving for freedom of personal and sexual identity. The partial or complete fantasy of it allows people to play with social interactions in ways not possible in their workaday lives. As civilized people it is all too easy to lose sight of the merits of our animal natures and become cogs for the sake of convenience and survival. Sexuality being one of our most repressed aspects always leads to experimentation in movements like this and there is heartache, personal epiphany and profound acceptance to be had. We naturally project our ideas on things in the world around us and that includes little girls, however much we can really know them, and those projections would perhaps inevitably find expression in anthropomorphic renderings of our animal friends as well.

Nine years of Pigtails in Paint — a poetic celebration

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.

Ode to a Special 7-Year-Old

Today, Pigtails in Paint is 7 years old.  And thanks to a multitude of guardian angels, it has managed to survive this long bringing attention to a most valuable part of our society, a part that is all too often taken for granted.  Seven is not generally regarded as an important milestone in an enterprise, but given our subject matter, it is an age when a girl is arguably at the height of her charm: she still has the youthful animal spirits that conveys an intoxicating zest for life and yet, has developed sufficient language and intellectual capacity to be an engaging companion.  Below are a few original and historical pieces commemorating this very special anniversary.  -Ron

The first is an original work in the form of an acrostic by Pip Starr who also composed the image for this occasion.

Heaven above opened one wintry night
And birthed an infant on a beam of light,
Presented us with girlish genius,
Placed in our hands the key that would spare us
Years hence from mediocrity and shame,
Bestowing on the world a righteous flame
Invested with the power of her kind–
Revealed to all, she could not be confined!
Today we celebrate her seventh year,
How, counter to the odds, she still is here
Displaying for the world her many charms
And talents: welcome her with open arms!
Yet even now she giggles as she stands,
Pigtails and all, before her doting fans.
It cannot be denied this child has strength,
Given enemies go to great length
To silence her, to make her go away,
And still she’s here to taunt them to this day.
If any man should doubt her bravery;
Lest any view her as unsavory,
She has the answer to all disbelief
In moments such as these, so scrap your grief.
Now picture, if you will, this simple scene:
Present before us is a stage serene.
A spotlight shines down, and she enters there
Into the light, our angel sweet and fair;
Not seconds in, with impish grin, does she
Take off her dress and cry aloud, “I’m free!”

And how about a couple of songs about girls of the celebrated age to mark the occasion? First, Seven Years by Norah Jones. Then, Childhood Dreams by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

As many readers may already know, Graham Ovenden was pleased with Pigtails’ coverage of his recent trial.  He learned of our impending anniversary and generously contributed this original poem, fresh off the presses.

Graham Ovenden – Lily age Seven Years (2010)


I look on you and marvel at your gift
so grateful given through our love.

You grow, the image of our dearest care,
a child both gentle as an angel fair
but equal, strong, determined as the fancy take
to fight all foes invention make.

Like flowers dancing in the air
or tree tip tops; their rhythms share
your gift of childhood’s grace …
Then turn the wild winds to a solemn pace.
Yes, follow on in Pan’s domain
cloaked by a cloth of leafy train.

A child of nature you have grown—
as yet no Earthly strife or passions shown
that turns your mind to Mammon’s lies …
Cloud Castles where the skylark flies
is your domain.

(Let ranting prophets keep their shame).
For innocence is held by you;
a sacred trust, both loving, true.

—Graham Ovenden

The accompanying image is from an original painting in oil on paper.

The next contribution is from Christian, whom you can thank for even having this commemorative post at all.

Mac Harshberger – illustration for “The Birthday” in The Singing Crow (1926)

To Julie Bridwell

JULIE had a birthday,
Mother made acclaim;
Seven soulful candles
Waved their flags of flame.

Ferryboats were tooting,
Trying to be sweet;
Sets of verses scooted
Down from Henry Street.

Ev’ry place was happy—
Even New York Bay;
Sea Gulls flew in sevens,
Honoring the day.

—Nathalia Crane

This poem was printed in The Singing Crow and Other Poems published by Albert & Charles Boni, New York (1926) and illustrated by Mac Harshberger.

Graham Ovenden being an avid purveyor of literature also had a couple of suggestions for poems that fit the sevens theme.



At Two, she is a tiny lass,

And Joy she scarcer knows from sorrow;

She scarce consults her looking-glass;

She has no thought of sad to-morrow!


At Four she is a merry maid,

And looks on aught but play as folly;

She can’t believe bright flowers fade—

That only sawdust is her dolly.


At Eight, her troubles come in scores,

For oft she is perverse and haughty;

A pouting puss in pinafores—

Who’s sometimes whipped when she is naughty!


At Twelve, she is a saucy teaze,

Who knows full well her glances rankle;

Her petticoats scarce veil her knees,

And fairy frills scarce kiss her ankle.


At Fifteen, she’s the pearl of pets,

And feels assured her pow’r is strengthened;

Her snowy school-girl trouserettes

Are hidden when her skirt is lengthened.


At Sixteen, she’s the sweetest sweet,

And dresses in the height of fashion;

She feels her heart ’neath bodice beat,

In earnest for the tender passion.


At Eighteen, p’r’aps she may be sold

Her lot to share, for worse or better;

She’ll either sell her heart for gold—

Or give it for a golden fetter!

—Joseph Ashby-Sterry

This poem was published in a collection called Boudoir Ballads (1876).  Although many poets have written about young girls, Ashby-Sterry distinguished himself by dealing almost exclusively with them.

Arthur Boyd Houghton – Poems by Jean Ingelow Illustrated (1867)



THERE ‘S no dew left on the daisies and clover,

There’s no rain left in heaven;

I’ve said my ‘seven times’ over and over,

Seven times one are seven.

I am old, so old, I can write a letter;

My birthday lessons are done;

The lambs play always, they know no better;

They are only one times one.

O moon! in the night I have seen you sailing

And shining so round and low;

You were bright! ah, bright! but your light is failing—

You are nothing now but a bow.

You moon, have you done something wrong in heaven

That God has hidden your face?

I hope if you have you will soon be forgiven,

And shine again in your place.

O velvet bee, you’re a dusty fellow,

You’ve powdered your legs with gold!

O brave marsh marybuds, rich and yellow,

Give me your money to hold!

O columbine, open your folded wrapper,

Where two twin turtle-doves dwell!

O cuckoopint, toll me the purple clapper

That hangs in your clear green bell!

And show me your nest with the young ones in it;

I will not steal them away;

I am old! you may trust me, linnet, linnet—

I am seven times one to-day.

—Jean Ingelow

This poem is the first Canto in a much longer poem appearing in Poems by Jean Ingelow Illustrated published by Longmans, Green, Reader & Dyer (1867) and illustrated by Arthur Boyd Houghton.

Fudge Factors

Today is Pigtails in Paint’s 6th anniversary.  Not an auspicious one to be sure and I admit to some reservations.  For one thing, even though this site was founded by Pip 6 years ago today, it cannot be said that we have been in continuous operation that long due to technical issues and outright censorship.  Recently, Pip designed a little banner to celebrate our 1000th post, but again I have reservations.  As the site evolved, it made sense to consolidate a number of shorter posts and, on occasion, posts were deleted out of necessity.  And then there is the issue of monthly updates: do they count as posts or only those that contain images?  Some posts are long and some very short.  So I decided that, so that Pip’s efforts would not go to waste, I would post his celebratory banner on this anniversary date.  Thanks go to all our readers for their support particularly during these trying times.  -Ron

Pigtails’ 5th Anniversary: Two Great American Illustrators

Looking back at Pigtails in Paint’s history, it really is remarkable that we should be here now. There were so many things that could have gone wrong and, thanks to a number of guardian angels, we have been able to persevere. But apart from all that, the most remarkable quirk of fate was the partnership between Pip and me. Remove one of us from the equation and, almost certainly, there would be no Pigtails today. I never intended to run a website like this and if Pip had not invited me to join him, I probably never would have. And if I had not come along when I did, the site may never have developed its chorus of contributors—both visible and invisible. Even though Pip is officially gone, I must assure our readers that he keeps an ever vigilant eye on his baby and his influence will continue to be felt for a long time. Now for the present: I would like to thank Christian for his meticulous work as Editor and the multitude of others for their leads, materials, research, feedback, translating services and technical services that have kept things going.

On that note, I would like to present two images and stories by arguably the United States’ best child illustrators: Elizabeth Shippen Green and Jessie Willcox Smith. One day, both of these artists will get the full coverage they deserve but, for now, I would like to offer this tantalizing sample. There is a rare book featuring illustrations by these two women called The Book of the Child (1903) with text written by Mabel Humphrey and published by the Frederick A. Stokes Company. Because the book does not cover the more popular children’s tales, it is virtually unknown and has not received the recognition it deserves. It also distinguishes itself by having the stories inspired by the illustrations instead of the other way around. When I saw the title of the first story, it was a signal to me that this book should be the cornerstone of this anniversary post.

Elizabeth Shippen Green - A Tale of a Pigtail (1903)

Elizabeth Shippen Green – A Tale of a Pigtail (1903)

A Tale of a Pigtail

 Snip, snip, snip, squeaked the shears; down to the floor slipped a thick braid of soft brown hair; and Mary gave a startled gasp as she looked down at it. A sob rose in her throat as she glanced at herself in the mirror.
“I don’t care,” she sniffed, which really meant that she cared very much; “now the boys can’t call me ‘pigtail’ and ‘cowstail’, cause I haven’t any tail at all.”
“Hey, Jimmy!” she called from the window, “who’s a pigtail now?” and shook her short locks savagely.
The answer came quick and clear, “Bobtail! Bobtail! Bob—”; but the rest of the word was lost in the bang of the window and a burst of tears.
At that moment Auntie Brown came hurrying into the room, and, seeing the poor shorn lamb sobbing her small heart out gathered her lovingly into comfortable arms.
“Never mind, Sweetie.” she cooed soothingly. “Auntie won’t scold about the hair, dear heart”, (this, as the small hands clutched wildly at the docked head), “though she is sorry. Jimmy shan’t ever call you names again,” and very gently Auntie coaxed the small visitor back into smiles.
All day long Mary lingered near her aunt, however. The grey branches beckoned gaily to her from the golden sunlight, and the bright flowers nodded encouragingly; but these held no temptation for her while the boys were outside and a possible “Bobtail” rang in her ears.
Searching for something with which to amuse herself she came at last upon Uncle’s set of beautiful chessmen and soon had a small ivory family in the midst of dinners, dances and many gaieties. In her excitement Mary forgot that the chessmen were forbidden to her small fingers—forgot, too, that the books she had used for the houses were Uncle’s choicest. Everything in fact was lost in the “fun” she was having.
“Come on, Mary,” called Jimmy, peering through the long window. “Come play horse,” but Mary shook her head.
“Lemme play with you, then.”
The head shook harder than before, and Jimmy turned away cross and hurt. If Mary only couldn’t play with the chessmen, perhaps she might come out and play with him. “Couldn’t,” and suddenly remembering his father’s command, the little boy rushed eagerly off to find him, a plan—rather selfish, I fear, stirring busily in his small brain.
A few moments later Jessie was startled by her Uncle’s voice stern and cold. “Mary!” was all it said, but it was enough; she remembered now.
“Oh, Uncle Jim,” she wailed, “I won’t ever do it again, but my hair—” she faltered. “I quite forgot!”
There was no doubting the earnest little face upturned to him, and remembering the sorry tale of woes Auntie had told him not long before, Uncle Jim turned away with a smile, only telling Mary to put the chessmen away carefully.
Having done so, Mary, with flashing eyes, marched out on the piazza, and, spying the object of her search, her wrath took shape.
Jimmy Brown!” and Mary’s voice trembled with rage. “You called me pigtail, which I wasn’t, an’a cowstail, which I wasn’t. Then when I wouldn’t come out to an’ play, you ‘membered about the chessmen, an’ told! An’ that’s a—telltale!”
With a break in the angry voice Mary turned to go; but at a bound Jimmy was at her side. “I’m drefful sorry, Mary,” he began—
“Nem mind, Jimmy,” said the little girl. “So am I. Let’s play horse.”

Some of you may note that Humphreys made a continuity error in mentioning the name “Jessie” instead of “Mary”. I believe it was her intent to use the illustrators’ names in the stories and she got a little mixed up. An interesting coincidence is that this book should arrive at my doorstep only one day after publishing the ‘Chess’ post. The next story—the last in the book—may seem out of place in February but I do find myself humming Christmas carols at all times of the year.

Jessie Willcox Smith - A Real Santa Claus (1903)

Jessie Willcox Smith – A Real Santa Claus (1903)

A Real Santa Claus

 “O dear!” sighed Elizabeth. “I don’t b’lieve Sandy Claus’ll ever come.”
She pressed her round little nose against the cold window pane and peered up and down the street, as if she half expected to see Mr. Santa himself under the gas lamps.
Very quietly she had crept into the dark drawing-room this Christmas eve, for perhaps—one of those exciting chances it was!—perhaps Nursey would’nt find her. And then? Well, then she would sit up and see Santa Claus come down the chimney.
Nursey did find her, however, and very soon Elizabeth was snug in bed, though not by any means asleep. As soon as she was alone in the dark, up popped her head like a lively”Jack-in-the-box,” the little white-clad shoulders following. And Elizabeth waited.
It was very still in the dark room, and once or twice the drowsy eyelids drooped; but she propped them up with two chubby fingers and kept the brown eyes turned anxiously toward the fireplace.
Could he crawl down it, she wondered. He was fat and had a pack, a great large one with dolls, an’ candie, an’ ev’thing. Yes, an’ kittens! He might break the dollies if he should squeeze. S’posen he couldn’t
Suddenly Elizabeth’s heart gave a quick thump as the door opened softly, letting in enough light to show a grey head peeping through the crack. The head had a beard, too, just like the pictures, and the broad shoulders wore a great coat white with snow.
“Creak,” said the door, while it opened wide enough to let all of the large figure slip into the room.
At the sound, Santa Claus—for it must be he thought Elizabeth—jumped, as she did when Mother caught her taking lumps of sugar, and looked cautiously around to see if she had heard. All was quiet, however, and after stopping an instant to make sure she had not wakened, he stole quietly over to the chimney-place, carrying in each hand a small stocking, stuffed to the toe and bulging in the queerest of shapes. These he hung in front of the chimney; then tiptoed out into the hall again.
As he closed the door Elizabeth heard him whisper: “she didn’t wake,” and he called her mama “Lil” and kissed her.
“Hm,” she mused drowsily, “I knowed he couldn’t get down that little chimney. Guess he didn’t see I was awake; must have lef’ his pack an’ cap downstairs, I fink.” The sleepy eyes closed, and Elizabeth drifted softly away into Dreamland.
The next morning early, a bright voice chirped: “Merry Christmas, Mudder. I saw Sandy Claus! Bolstered up in Mother’s bed she told her story, between squeals of delight at the treasures Santa had left.
At breakfast she found a new grandfather, arrived the night before from his home in San Francisco, and such fun as they had all day together. At dinner Grandfather carved the great turkey, and gave her both fat “drumsticks” and the wish-bone. In the afternoon they had a sleighride, and Elizabeth “drove” the horses with the jingling sleighbells, almost by herself.
In the evening they made merry over the twinkling Christmas tree, and before bed-time she told Grandfather “she loved him, an’ he looked jes’ like her Sandy Claus.” When he answered that he “wondered” if little owls could see in the dark, his eyes twinkled so merrily, like the pictures again, the she almost thought he must be Santa Claus.
And sometimes when Christmas comes around, bringing her many beautiful gifts, she thinks so still.

The Poster Children of Pigtails in Paint

Today is Pigtails in Paint’s 3rd Anniversary and conventional wisdom has it that when a new enterprise has survived to its third year, it has “made it” and has the stuff to weather any future storms it encounters. Three years ago today, Pip started this legacy with his post on Maxfield Parrish—titled ‘Parrish the Thought’ in Pigtails’ original incarnation.  Ever since then, he has made a point of bringing the readers an incredible eclectic range of little girl imagery and commentary. Ron joined a year-and-a-half later bringing his perspective and resources to the party. Every so often, an image comes along that seems to epitomize the purpose of this blog. For example, Ami brought to our attention the lovely and talented Autumn Miller and because of Ami’s research, Pigtails’ readers have been introduced to her. Many times, however, there have been delightful images that were not very well documented—on the internet or out of a magazine. This post is dedicated to those images Pip and Ron feel are important to get out there, but have not been fully identified and credited. Technically, this is another ‘Random Images’ post, so we encourage anyone with the time and skill to help us identify these. More may be added as they come up.

Ron is particularly fond of images of girls reading, so here are a couple he gleaned from the web:

littel girl reading 1900s

George W. Harris – Little Girl Reading (c 1940)

Thanks go to “Arizona” for tracking down the details of the above photo.  It was published by Harris & Ewing and the little girl is identified as Frances E. Lucks.  The links mentioned in the comments are worthy of further exploration.

reading girl pigtails classic - Copy

[January 27, 2017] Since the other old masthead of Pigtails reside here, I felt it sensible to place the others here as well as we periodically change designs. -Ron

Pigtails in Paint Banner (June 2014 to January 2017)

I want to thank Catwheezle for his question about Pigtails in Paint’s masthead.  The image comes from Pip’s collection of images which he used to design the masthead, but he does not remember the original artist.  Perhaps one of our readers will assist us.  The original will be posted as soon as Pip comes across it again.


Pigtails in Paint Banner (December 2012 to May 2014)

Another reader found the source of this image and now we can answer Catwheezle’s question.

Alfred Schwarz - Evie: Lovely Girl with Pigtails and Blue Bows (c1900)

Alfred Schwarz – Evie: Lovely Girl with Pigtails and Blue Bows (c1900)

Pigtails in Paint Banner (September 2011 to September 2012)

Pigtails in Paint Banner (September 2011 to September 2012)

[20180901] Pip came across the original art he used for the above banner.

Jesus Blasco – Anita

I would like to thank the reader who discovered that there was still one page left that contained the original banner.

Pigtails in Paint Banner (February 2011 to September 2011)

Pigtails in Paint Banner (February 2011 to September 2011)

[20170704] Christian just reported the source for the above image.  A copy of the full image is shown below.  More paintings by this artists can be found here.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema – A Kiss (1891)

Pigtails in Paint’s One Year Anniversary

Well, here it is: the one year anniversary of my blog, Pigtails in Paint.  Wow, hard to believe it’s been a year already!  A heartfelt thanks to all my followers and fans, who continue to make this worthwhile.  This is for all of you.  Cheers!  (By the way, the little girl in this piece was originally from an advertisement by Firmin Bouisset for Chocolat Menier, so you could say this piece is a collaboration between Bouisset and I.  Using a girl from an ad for a chocolate company was quite appropriate too, given that yesterday was Valentine’s Day.)




From Anonymphous on February 15, 2012
Thank you for very much for this blog! I´ve just discovered it some weeks ago, and it`s definitely one of my favorite blogs. There are still so many things I have to research here, and it would be great, if this blog will still last for a very long time. Thanks!

From pipstarr72 on February 15, 2012
You’re welcome! And by the way, this comment is actually the one hundredth comment at my blog, oddly enough. One year, one hundred comments, and who know how many posts. Looking forward to the year ahead!