Johann Baptist Reiter

Austrian painter Johann Baptist Reiter found success as a portraitist in the Biedermeier era, which somewhat overlapped Neoclassicism. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, and then got his start painting porcelain, doing a few paintings in between. After winning the Lampi-Preis for an exhibited work, he switched to doing paintings pretty much exclusively, building up his career with genre pieces and then portraits.

What’s interesting about this piece is that it is quite an informal pose, a rarity for the period. I’ve seen plenty of photographs of children in similar poses, and even a few more contemporary paintings and illustrations, but this may be the earliest example of this pose in a painted portrait. Face propped upon one arm, the girl wears a somewhat bored expression. You can easily picture her swinging her feet back and forth as she waits for Herr Reiter to hurry up and finish painting her portrait so she can go outside and play.

Johann Baptist Reiter – Die zernagte Puppe (1845)

Historical Photographic Archives of Children

In Christian’s research, he is always looking for archival images of children and so comes across some good collections that should be shared.  The first image is from an unknown photographer.  The photo gives the impression of a poor girl in a dilapidated neighborhood but anyone with a knowledge of history knows the girl is sitting among the rubble of World War II.

(ARtist Unknown) - London (1940)

(Artist Unknown) – London (1940)

Vintage Children: And The Stories That Go With Them is an excellent site that has both documentary photographs and artistic portraiture from about the US Civil War up to the Great Depression.  The thing about this site is that each image comes with a little background information.  One of the interesting stories here is about discovering the identity of one of the most popular postcard models, Grete Reinwald.  I never had the time to get the whole backstory, so I never got around to sharing it with the readers.  If you are a purveyor of vintage postcards, you have almost certain seen this little German girl.
Postcard Featuring Grete Reinwald (c1905)

Postcard Featuring Grete Reinwald (c1905)

Another site called Vintage Images has almost 1500 images of children appearing on postcards, both photographs and illustrations.  Some of the artists are slated to be covered on Pigtails.

Modern and Vintage Dolls

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

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

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

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

Doll_RH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH - rf collection (2016)

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH – rf collection (2016)

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

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH - rf collection (2015)

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH – rf collection (2015)

Photographed from another angle, she seems to be dreaming.

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH - rf collection (2015)

Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH – rf collection (2015)

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

Doll_NSD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monica Doll Studios, Hollywood, CA USA (1945)

Monica Doll Studios, Hollywood, CA USA (1945)

Here we can see her from another angle.

Monica Doll Studios, Hollywood, CA USA (1945)

Monica Doll Studios, Hollywood, CA USA (1945)

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

Eloise Wilkin: Illustrator of Little Golden Books

Most of us would have childhood memories of reading books illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. Wilkin started writing Little Golden Books in the 1940s and many of her books are still being re-released today. The illustrations of Eloise Wilkin depict an idyllic environment that is free of dangers and is inhabited by chubby, cherub-faced toddlers and children. These children are mainly of Caucasian appearance, though occasionally other ethnicities do appear. Curiously most children drawn by Wilkin have a closed mouth smile or contemplative expression—you almost never see their teeth. I suppose this was because Wilkin was not comfortable or did not believe she could convincingly draw other expressions. Regardless, I don’t think this lack of varied expression reduced the quality of her images. All of her images are either watercolors or coloured pencil drawings.

Eloise Wilkin - Untitled illustration from the book A Child's Garden of Verses 1957

Eloise Wilkin – Untitled illustration from the book A Child’s Garden of Verses (1957)

Eloise Wilkin - Untitled illustration from the book Wonders of Nature (1) 1957

Eloise Wilkin – Untitled illustration from the book Wonders of Nature (1957) (1)

Eloise Margaret Wilkin was born (as Eloise Margaret Burns, March 30, 1904–October 4, 1987) in Rochester, NY. She completed an illustration course at the Rochester Institute of Technology and upon graduation, started up an art studio with her friend Joan Esley. However the art studio was unsuccessful and she struggled to find work in Rochester so she moved to New York City. Here Eloise did freelance work for many publishing companies and her first published book was The Shining Hour (1927) for the Century Co. Additionally, Wilkin also illustrated paper dolls for the businesses Playtime House, Jaymar and Samuel Gabriel and Sons.

Eloise Wilkin - Prayers for Children (Cover) 1952

Eloise Wilkin – Prayers for Children (Cover) (1952)

Eloise Wilkin - Untitled illustration from the book My Goodnight Book 1981

Eloise Wilkin – Untitled illustration from the book My Goodnight Book (1981)

Eloise married Sidney Wilkin in 1935 and reduced the amount of illustrating work she did for the next nine years in order to raise their four children.  She signed a contract with Simon & Schuster in 1944 and went on to illustrate about fifty Little Golden Books. During this time she would use family, relations and neighbours as models for her images. The landscapes that appeared in Eloise’s illustrations were also real and drawn from the areas she lived or holidayed.

Eloise Wilkin - Untitled illustration from the book Wonders of Nature (2) 1957

Eloise Wilkin – Untitled illustration from the book Wonders of Nature (1957) (2)

Eloise Wilkin - Untitled illustration from the book Wonders of Nature (3) 1957

Eloise Wilkin – Untitled illustration from the book Wonders of Nature (1957) (3)

Eloise Wilkin - Untitled illustration from the book Birds 1958 (1)

Eloise Wilkin – Untitled illustration from the book Birds (1958) (1)

Eloise Wilkin - Untitled illustration from the book Birds 1958 (2)

Eloise Wilkin – Untitled illustration from the book Birds (1958) (2)

Eloise Wilkin started designing dolls in 1961. Her first doll was was the Baby Dear doll produced by Vogue Dolls. Inc. which came in two sizes, 12 and 18 inches.

Image of "Baby Dear" doll created by Eloise Wilkin

Image of “Baby Dear” doll created by Eloise Wilkin

Eloise went on to create six other dolls.

Image of seven dolls all created by Eloise Wilkin

Image of seven dolls all created by Eloise Wilkin

The Baby Dear doll was released concurrently with the book Baby Dear, published by Little Golden Books, and appears in the book as the little girl’s doll. Another interesting thing about the Baby Dear book is that it was written by Esther Wilkin, Eloise’s sister. Additionally her daughter was the model for the mother and her grandson the model for the baby.

Eloise Wilkin - Baby Dear (Cover) 1962

Eloise Wilkin – Baby Dear (Cover) (1962)

Eloise Wilkin - Untitled illustration from the book Baby Dear 1962

Eloise Wilkin – Untitled illustration from the book Baby Dear (1962)

In addition to books Eloise’s images also appeared on calendars, puzzles, the covers of Little Golden Records, china plates, ads, cards and in Child’s Life, Story Parade and Golden Magazine.

Eloise Wilkin - Untitled illustration from the book We Like Kindergarten 1965

Eloise Wilkin – Untitled illustration from the book We Like Kindergarten (1965)

Eloise Wilkin - My Kitten (Cover) 1954

Eloise Wilkin – My Kitten (Cover) (1954)

Eloise Wilkin - Songs of Praise (Cover) 1970

Eloise Wilkin – Songs of Praise (Cover) (1970)

Eloise continued to illustrate and design dolls right up until her death, from cancer in 1987.

Eloise Wilkin - Untitled illustration from the book Prayers for Children 1952

Eloise Wilkin – Untitled illustration from the book Prayers for Children (1952)

An extensive bibliography of Eloise Wilkin books can be found at the Loganberry Books website

To listen to a three-part interview with one of Eloise Wilkin’s daughters, Deborah Wilkin Springett go to the triviumpursuit website. The webpage also says you can order her biography about her mother, The Golden Years of Eloise Wilkin, however this page is eight years old, at this time, so it may no longer be available.

Random Images: Young Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews (b. 1935) is, in my opinion, one of the greatest actresses of all time demonstrating talent as both a singer and an actor.  I am delighted that this archival image exists.  Even at this tender age, she was “deadly” serious about her music, occasionally singing to her dolls for practice.

(Photographer Unknown) - Young Julie Andrews (1947)

(Photographer Unknown) – Young Julie Andrews (1947)

Random Images: Dollies’ Bedtime Story

The girl is Dorothy Lewis of New York who believes in bedtime stories for her dollies. Images like this remind us of the original function of dolls: as a surrogate for young girls to practice their maternal skills.

(Photographer Unknown) - Girl Telling Dollies a Bedtime Story (1925)

(Photographer Unknown) – Girl Telling Dollies a Bedtime Story (1925)

It occurs to me that with the advent of civilization (and nuclear families) and the decline of tribal societies, many little girls did not necessarily have access to younger siblings, nieces, nephews and cousins with which to “practice”.