Eva Ionesco

Most of those familiar with the history of children in art have likely heard of the initial shock and controversy surrounding the young model Eva Ionesco. As a blog that seeks to explore the female child as she relates to art in all its forms, we would be remiss if we did not address Eva, despite the controversy. While we will be briefly covering her history in this post, there are some ethical questions that need to be addressed, and I shall attempt to do so in an unbiased and respectful manner.

Irina Ionesco – (Untitled) (1)

Irina Ionesco – (Untitled) (2)

French photographer Irina Ionesco was well known for her unique style of mixing gothic and eroticism. Her works often included nude models in darkly-lit rooms with seemingly random objects strewn about. But she shocked the art world when she began photographing her daughter in similar scenarios. Irina began photographing Eva when she was only 5 years old in different states of dress. While there were some nudes from that time period, most of the photographs that are considered among the most controversial came about a little later. As she approached the age of 10, the nudes became more prominent and took on some heavy sexual undertones. Ionesco faced both praise and criticism, particularly with the release of her first book called Eva: In Praise of my Daughter. This, like many of her other publications included photographs of Eva in addition to several other models.

Irina Ionesco – (Untitled) (3)

Irina Ionesco – (Untitled) (4)

Eva’s fame quickly skyrocketed as other photographers requested to use her in their photoshoots, most often in the nude. This includes an extensive portfolio entitled Eva, shot by French photographer Jacques Bourboulon when she was 11. His photos offer a stark contrast to Irina’s stylistically speaking, as most of them are vibrant and take place on a beach near his villa. Yet they turned out to be no less explicit. In 1976, a small collection of these photographs appeared in a very controversial issue of the Italian version of Playboy Magazine, making her the youngest model ever to appear in said publication. A year later, Penthouse would be the second major publication to publish photos of Eva, this time from one of Irina’s later collections. Both of these publications have since acknowledged that her inclusion in these issues may have been a mistake, as certain governments began censoring them.

Irina Ionesco – (Untitled) (5)

She has since appeared in countless minor publications. In the months following, Eva’s career expanded to the silver screen, where she appeared in films like Puppy Love, and The Tenant, the former of which is banned in several countries under child pornography laws. It should be noted that in her pre-teen years, Eva has always looked older than she actually was as by this age her breasts were already prominent and she had a significant amount of pubic hair, which some have speculated could explain the level of intrigue her photos received from adult males.

Jacques Bourboulon – (Untitled) (1)

Jacques Bourboulon – (Untitled) (2)

Eva’s career as a nude model ended shortly thereafter when she was removed from her mother’s custody. She continued to appear in minor publications and television spots until she would re-emerge in the early 2000s to show the world the damage her mother had caused her, even going as far as to file a lawsuit against her. This laid bare the feud that existed between her and her mother in decades previous. With the help of her husband, Eva wrote a book entitled Innocence (2019) in which she details how demanding and insistent her mother was, particularly regarding the nude photography sessions. Today, the two are not on speaking terms, and only communicate through their lawyers.

Eva’s story is important to understand, particularly when it comes to the topic of children in art. It makes us ask where is the oftentimes blurred line between art and exploitation? It is hard to say whether or not Irina Ionesco was attempting to exploit her daughter for personal gain. However, she has described her mother as “demanding and abusive” many times in the books she has published. Censorship also needs to be addressed, and whether or not these adult magazines should have practiced more discretion when deciding whether or not to feature Eva as one of their models. On a personal note, I find it interesting that she is not smiling in the vast majority of her mother’s photos. Many critics, including those who vehemently oppose artistic censorship, find Irina’s photos Irina lacking in taste.

Another consideration that should be raised is that when photographing a child in the nude, one must do so keeping in mind how the child may feel about these photographs leading into adulthood, and how it may affect their lives. Some models, like Samantha Gates and her brother are proud of their past works, and enjoy the fame it has brought them. but this is not always the case. While reading the books Eva has published, it is clear that she wishes her past would simply fade into obscurity. She is resentful of Irina for turning her into an “object of lust”.

Regardless of whether or not one finds the photographs of Eva tasteful, or the opinion of the model herself, it is important that these photographs be seen, if for no other reason than to provoke an open dialogue about topics such as censorship, exploitation, and potential ramifications certain actions could have in time. Whatever your opinion on these issues may be, Eva’s book Innocence is definitely worth reading in order to grasp her personal feelings regarding her past. She also directed a movie called My Little Princess (2011), which explores the complex relationship between her and her mother. I have purposely left my allusions to these works broad in order to avoid spoiling it for those who wish to see for themselves.

Irina Ionesco – (Untitled) (6)

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani was born in Ro, Italy in 1942. He worked as a machinist before his career as a professional artist. In 1966 Mantovani moved to Berlin, Germany, and attended painting classes in his spare time. Mantovani wrote in his autobiography, “… since I was a child I have always felt the urge to translate thoughts and fantasies in images “. His first exhibition was in 1977, and he then devoted himself entirely to painting. His painting is inspired by Italian Renaissance painters in style, and to a lesser extent in subject matter. Viewing his paintings, I am reminded of Fra Angelico in his clear, realistic style and formal poses. Mantovani’s web page is here. It is worthwhile to visit and view more of his paintings.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – Vogliamo Solo il Tuo Bene (1979)

Vogliamo Solo il Tuo Bene (We only want what’s good for you.) was painted in 1979. The statues are apparently advising the young girl, wearing only jewelry, about what is good for her. I could guess at further interpretation of this painting, but since I would only be guessing, I will leave it up to the reader to interpret the painting. Childhood is a recurrent theme of Mantovani. Many of his paintings feature children, especially girls.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – L’apoteosi di Pinocchia (1992)

L’apoteosi di Pinocchia (The apotheosis of Pinocchia), painted in 1992, features a young girl as Pinocchia rather than the customary boy Pinocchio. The scene is reminiscent of a Renaissance painting, although the man is in modern dress. Inclusion of strange details in the background is typical of Mantovani. I assume these details are significant, but can offer no theory of their meaning.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – La Nascita Sensazionale di Venere (1995)

La Nascita Sensazionale di Venere (The Sensational Birth of Venus) is Mantovani’s version of a theme popular with Renaissance painters. In mythology, Venus is said to be born from the foam of the sea, and usually a humanoid mother is not involved, as in this painting. Above Venus is a honeycomb shaped like a heart. This “Wax Heart” is the subject of another painting (Il Cuore di Cera) by Mantovani. He often includes in his works allusions to other of his paintings.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – Il Paletot Rosso (2006)

Il Paletot Rosso (The Red Coat) is the least surreal of the paintings in this post, yet it still evokes the feeling that there is more than meets the eye. The girl sits ten kilometers from Ferrara, in the Italian province where Mantovani was born. The cat in the lower right is frequently seen in Mantovani’s paintings. This painting is the first to be featured on the artist’s web page.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – Paesaggio Eroico (2008)

Paesaggio Eroico (Heroic Landscape) depicts the artist when he was ten years old, admired by two girls from a previous painting. The girl on the left is also in L’apoteosi di Pinocchia and other paintings. The details in the background are also from other Mantovani paintings. Note La Nascita Sensazionale di Venere above and slightly left of Pinocchia’s head.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – Cupida (2010)

Cupida (the feminine of Cupid) is Mantovani’s version of Amor Vincit Omnia (Love conquers all, from Virgil) painted in 1602 by Caravaggio. In the painting by Caravaggio, Cupid is portrayed as a boy. Cupid traditionally is a boy, but Mantovani puts more emphasis on girls in his art. This is especially true of his nudes. Look at the paintings on the artist’s web page; you will see many female nudes, but all male figures are clothed.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – La Sacra Famiglia (2012)

La Sacra Famiglia (The Holy Family) has the appearance of traditional paintings of the Holy Family. Even without the title and the halos, the pose and general background, and the multitude coming to adore them would have brought to mind paintings of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Mantovani spent much of his childhood in a Catholic orphanage and boarding school, and it shows in his painting. In this painting however, the child is a girl, and the family is dressed in modern clothing. They also have a dog. None of these details would be accurate for the actual Holy Family. Behind them and to the left is another family of a woman and two children, all with halos. Who are they?

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – La Vendetta della Strega (2013)

La Vendetta della Strega (The Witch’s Revenge) is the last painting in this article. when I first saw this painting, I had the idea that the girl was floating in the sky, and appeared bigger than the buildings because she was closer to the observer. Then I noticed that one foot is on the ground behind a tree. The girl is a giant; she really is many times bigger than the trees and buildings. Except for the pentacles on the hem of her skirt, there is nothing to indicate she is a witch. It is a mystery, at least to me, for what she is exacting revenge.

Allan O’Marra

Allan O’Marra grew up in Bancroft, Ontario, and his art often features the natural beauty of central Ontario. He is an artist, an art teacher, and a psychotherapist. As a painter, his work includes both realistic and abstract images. O’Marra paints portraits, figures, landscapes, and still-life. According to the artist, he is “Aiming always to reflect the wonder of existence in all its beauty and complexities.”

Allan O’Marra – Sweet Thing (1979)

O’Marra began exhibiting his paintings in 1971. The first of ten paintings included in this article is Sweet Thing (1979). It is a relatively early work, but O’Marra has already mastered the realistic style. The lake in the background is typical of O’Marra, he often paints aquatic scenes.

Allan O’Marra – Aphrodite’s Child (1981)

Aphrodite’s Child (1981) is another figure of a girl at a lake; this one a nude. Most of his figures are clothed, but a few are nude.

Allan O’Marra – After the Swim (2005)

Allan O’Marra – We All Need Our Heroes (2011)

The next two paintings are After the Swim and We All Need Our Heroes. I have not been able to determine who the models are for these paintings. They have the feeling of O’Marra’s paintings of his own family.

Allan O’Marra – Naturists in a Grotto (2015)

Naturists in a Grotto shows a group of seven naturists, including both males and females, young and mature. O’Marra wrote, “This painting is from a series that I am working on that celebrates my fascination with the idea of family naturism—working from reference images found on naturist websites across the globe.” By using reference images from naturist web sites rather than his relatives or other live models, he had access to plenty of images of people of both sexes and all ages. In Naturists in a Grotto, six of the seven figures are female, and three are adolescent girls. Were young girls given prominence because, in O’Marra’s artistic judgement, they are most aesthetically pleasing?

Allan O’Marra – Sisters (2019)

Allan O’Marra – Ashlyn —Swimming in the Rain (2019)

I find Sisters appealing for the sisterly affection evident in the two girls. Ashlyn—Swimming in the Rain was inspired by the time the artist took his great niece swimming, and it started to rain.

Allan O’Marra – April (my granddaughter) (2021)

Allan O’Marra – Granddaughters (2021)

Allan O’Marra – Rayvin on the Fence (2021)

The last three paintings are some of O’Marra’s more recent work, and feature his family members. Allan O’Marra’s web page is here.

Maiden Voyages: June 2022

Yes, everybody; we are still here. This is a crucial stage in the site and organization where we must strategize how to survive in this environment.

“Protected” Images: I feel it was a sensible decision but it does pain me a bit that it has become necessary to protect certain image from prying eyes and those they report to not competent to make informed and rational decisions about the content we cover. No use crying over spilt milk. As an emergency measure, we had to change the status of most posts to private which mean non-registered readers will not see those posts. Now that we found a way to protect individual images, I am working back in time and making each post public again as I evaluate each image. It is important that the posts themselves are public so that those researching specific artists or themes can find the contributions of this site. As of this writing, I have released posts going back through 2017. All posts should be readily available in the next few days.

Registered Readers: I am pleased to announce that there is robust interest in full access to this site. Requests have been trickling in and over 100 users have now been registered. The good news is that a handful of materials that artists wanted to keep under wraps due to unwanted public scrutiny can now be made available to a limited number of viewers.

Pigtails Volunteer Recruitment Drive: The biggest problem with keeping this site going is the efforts of our supporters. In the early days, I had time to nurture the contributions of others but I have had much less time of late. In the coming month, I will be putting together a list of supporting positions that would help in the smooth operation of this site.

Agapeta‘s Domain Issues: I am pleased to report that the domain transfer codes to Agapeta have finally been released. In the mean time, a new domain agapeta.fr had to be used and still functions but now the original agapeta.art is now functioning again. I’m afraid Agapeta and the Graham Ovenden sites were the unwitting victims of attacks targeting this site.

Lukas Roels: I am delighted to report that images from Roels’ Angels Of Time are now publicly available. I confirmed with the artist that the images displayed by Galerie Ludwig Trossaert London were duly authorized by him.

Jogging the Collective Memory: Many times readers have shared memories of images they recall seeing in the past in the hopes of making an identification. Usually the descriptions are a bit too vague to offer much of a lead. However, a recent message gives details that are peculiar enough to be distinctive and perhaps one of our readers will recognize it. Anyone wishing to help, please send us a message.

Many decades ago I saw late 19th early 20th century (maybe 1900s) nude photographs depicting girls seated on short legged baroque chairs, one was looking with binoculars at a circular mirror on the ground oriented towards her, another photograph was a girl also on the same chair looking at white dog on the floor and another was a girl standing with the same chair behind her while looking at the circular mirror on the ground. All girls were wearing knee socks. So where can I find those plus all other similar work from the same photographer? [Text was edited for clarity. -Ron]

Public Sculpture of Girls in Japan

Pigtails has already posted two articles about Japanese public sculpture. You can read the post about The Little Girl With Red Shoes On, and Beatrice. Many other statues of girls are in public places in Japan. It seems to me that there is a greater interest in Japan for young girl art than in most countries. Note the number of Japanese artists listed in the ‘Pipeline’ on Pigtails in Paint. My subjective impression, acquired from image searches, is that the percentage of public statues that feature young girls is greater in Japan than in other countries. Many of these sculptures can be seen on the internet with information about where the statue is located, but no other information about the statue. This article will briefly look at ten Japanese public sculptures.

Hiroshi Takahashi, Yasushi Horikawa, and Minoru Furushima – Love, a Family of Five (1) (no date)

Hiroshi Takahashi, Yasushi Horikawa, and Minoru Furushima – Love, a Family of Five (2) (no date)

The first statue group is one of the two in this article whose artist is known to me. It is Love, Family of Five, a collaboration of three artists: Hiroshi Takahashi,Yasushi Horikawa,and Minoru Furushima. Love, Family of Five is in Hisaya Odori Park in the city of Nagoya. Many statues of nude women are in the park, but as far as I know, Love, Family of Five is the only one with young girls.

artist unknown – Statue at Sunpu Castle (no date)

The next statue is in the moat at Sunpu Castle, Shizuoka City. The military base at Sunpu Castle closed in 1949, and the castle was converted to a tourist attraction. I could not find the name of the artist who created this statue. The date is also unknown, but is probably after 1949. Two things about this statue of a girl with a hand puppet are unusual. First, the figure is cut off at mid-thigh. Second, the puppet is painted, but the girl is not.

Churyo Sato – Girl (1) (no date)

Churyo Sato – Girl (2) (no date)

Churyo Sato – Girl (3) (no date)

The next statue is simply titled Girl. One edition of this statue is outside the Ebetsu City Waterworks Government Building. Another is at the Yokohama train station east exit. If the Japanese like a sculpture, it is common to have multiple copies on public display in different places. The artist is Churyo Sato, one of the greatest 20th century Japanese sculptors. Sato began his career as an artist in 1934, and continued working until his death in 2011 at age 98. Girl has a simple pose; the aesthetic appeal is primarily the natural beauty of the model. Look closely and you will notice something peculiar. From the front Girl may at first appear to be nude, but is actually wearing a close-fitting leotard. From the back, she definitely seems to be nude.

artist unknown – Setsuko Yokokawa (after 1988)

Setsuko at Manchidani Cemetery in Nishinomiya City is the strangest girl statue in Japan. Many believe that it is haunted. The statue is based on the character Setsuko from the 1988 animated movie Grave of the Fireflies. The movie tells the story of a brother and sister in the final months of World War II. Setsuko dies in the movie, which has been acclaimed as one of the most persuasive anti-war movies. After this statue was made, weird stories began to circulate about it. It was said that a boy broke an ear from the rabbit next to the girl, and afterwards the boy broke his leg. Mysterious lights have been rumored to flicker around Setsuko at night.

artist unknown – Green Wind (1) (no date)

artist unknown – Green Wind (2) (no date)

artist unknown – Green Wind (3) (no date)

Setsuko, like many girls in Japanese anime, wears a short skirt. This Japanese vogue for miniskirts is noticeable in Japanese statuary as well as in cartoons. This is shown in the next four statues. Green Wind stands near the Sumida river in Tokyo. Another copy of Green Wind can be seen near the ticket gate at Shinjo Station. I was not able to track down the name of the sculptor or the date for Green Wind, or for the next statue, Eternal Girl. The large characters on the base of the statue are the title, Eternal Girl. The smaller characters below may be the name of the sculptor, but I was not able to read them. Eternal Girl is in the Chiyoda section of Tokyo.

artist unknown – Eternal Girl (1) (no date)

artist unknown – Eternal Girl (2) (no date)

A statue of a girl in Iwamizawa Central Park on the island of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, is shown next. I do not know the name of the statue, or the name of the sculptor. Several photos of the statue are online, but apparently the title and artist are not considered important enough to mention. Standing Girl is a title I made for the captions. The title for the following statue, of a girl playing a flute, was also not given on line, but it can be read on the base of the statue. According to Google Translate, 人間 means “human” or “human being”. It is an accurate title, but very general. Human is near Nusamai Bridge, Kushiro City, Japan.

artist unknown – Standing Girl (1) (no date)

artist unknown – Standing Girl (2) (no date)

artist unknown – Human (1) (no date)

artist unknown – Human (2) (no date)

artist unknown – Human (3) (no date)

The Girl Scout Statue in Yamashita Park, Yokohama is a grouping of three girl scouts intended to symbolize the friendship between the Girl Scouts of Japan and United States of America. It is near The Little Girl With Red Shoes statue. Eleven-year-old American Girl Scout Libby Watson and seventeen-year-old Japanese Girl Scout Hiroko Tanaka were the models for the two girls saluting and shaking hands. Audrea Cox was the model for the younger girl near them.

artist unknown – Girl Scout Statue (1962)

The last sculpture in this post is in a public park in Tokyo. Pictures of the statue are available online, but I have not been able to discover the name of the statue or of the sculptor. Statements have been made in Japanese forums that the statue is not really suitable for display around children because of the detailed representation of the girl’s vulva.

artist unknown – Nude Girl (1) (no date)

artist unknown – Nude Girl (2) (no date)

Eliseu Visconti

Eliseu Visconti was born in Italy in 1866. The Visconti family moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil before Eliseu was ten years old. Visconti studied at the São Paulo School of Arts and Crafts and at the Brazilian Imperial Academy. In 1888 he was awarded a gold medal by the Academy. He went to Paris to study art at the French schools in 1893. Eugène Grasset, a pioneer of the Art Nouveau movement, was one of Visconti’s teachers. Eliseu Visconti introduced Art Nouveau to Brazil.

After returning to Brazil, Visconti was made a professor of painting at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes. He was in Europe again in 1913 to 1920, and during that time he painted the foyer paintings for the Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, and shipped them back to Brazil. Young girls are the subject of many of Visconti’s art. Ten examples are included in this article. Images in this post are from The Eliseu Visconti Project site, where a more comprehensive collection of Visconti’s art, and his biography may be seen.

Eliseu Visconti – Nu de Pé (1892)

Nu de Pé (Standing Nude) was painted in 1892. It is the earliest Visconti painting in this post, and by comparing it with later paintings we can see how the artist progressed. The face is not as expressive as in later paintings; she looks as if she is bored by posing. Her left hand looks large and masculine, almost as if it is another person’s hand.

Eliseu Visconti – No Verão ou Menina com Ventarola (1893)

No Verão ou Menina com Ventarola (In the Summer or Girl with a Fan) was painted in 1893. Like the previous image, Visconti painted it in Paris. The girl’s expression seems more relaxed, and to me this painting seems more natural than Nu de Pé.

Eliseu Visconti – As Duas Irmãs ou No Verão (1894)

As Duas Irmãs ou No Verão (The Two Sisters or In the Summer) is similar to Menina com Ventarola. Look at the bedposts in the background of Menina com Ventarola and you will see that she is on the same bed as As Duas Irmãs. Both paintings have the same alternate title, No Verão.

Eliseu Visconti – Oréades preliminary drawing (1899)

A preliminary drawing and a finished painting for Oréades (Forest Nymphs) are shown. When I first saw Oréades, I thought it was a painting of seven adolescent girls. I saw six girls in flimsy diaphanous garments that left their bodies visible, and one nude but draped with a ribbon that concealed the figure’s right breast and pubic area. According to The Eliseu Visconti Project, the nude figure with the ribbon is actually a shepherd boy dancing with six nymphs. In the preliminary drawing for Oréades, it can be seen that the effeminate appearing shepherd was modeled by an adolescent girl.

Eliseu Visconti – Oréades (1899)

After Visconti returned to Brazil, he organized an exhibition of his work at the National School of Fine Arts in 1901. The study for the cover of the exhibition catalog is typical Art Nouveau. The four nude girls are growing from, and part of a thorny vine. It is to me a very intriguing image. I would have liked to see a full color painting of this work.

Eliseu Visconti – As artes – Estudo para a Capa do Catálogo da Exposição de 1901 (1901)

Primavera (Spring) is another painting with an expressive face. Note that the face is darker than the rest of the body. Is the model blushing because she is shy? That would fit the expression on her face. It could also be that only her face is tanned because she is normally fully dressed when she is out in the sun. As in many Visconti paintings, the main figure is shown in greater detail than the background.

Eliseu Visconti – Primavera (circa1912)

Female Figure Study and Female Figures – Study for the Arcades are both drawings for the murals that Visconti would paint for the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro. The painting based on Female Figure Study was apparently destroyed when the arcades of the concert hall were renovated in 1934.

Eliseu Visconti – Female Figure Study (1913)

Eliseu Visconti – Female Figures – Study for the Arcades (1913)

Olhar de Menina (The Girl’s Look) is the only clothed portrait of a girl included in this article, but Visconti painted many such portraits of girls over his career. Olhar de Menina is one of Visconti’s later paintings. It was painted about 1935, and Visconti died in 1944.

Eliseu Visconti – Olhar de Menina (circa1935)

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux: Neapolitan Fisherboy and Girl with a Shell

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux was born in 1827 in Valenciennes, France, as the third in a line of stonemasons.  At age eleven he moved with his family to Paris where he eventually studied at (Where else?) the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  While there he hopped from tutor to tutor trying to find his preferred style and technique, though the two most notable teachers were François Rude and Françisque-Joseph Duret.  Additionally, it is no surprise to hear that Michaelangelo was a major source of inspiration for his work.

Strangely, while studying at the Ecole, Carpeaux was allegedly caught cheating during certain art competitions yet was declared the winner anyway.  In 1854 he would win the coveted Prix de Rome, earning him a scholarship to travel to the Italian capital in order to further develop his craft—though he was unable to leave for the following two years due to prior commissions and troubles with illness.  It was in Rome that he would make one of his most famous pieces, known in English as Neapolitan Fisherboy.

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux – Pêcheur Napolitain à la Coquille (Neapolitan Fisherboy) (1857-1861)

The piece was actually first introduced as a plaster cast which was given to the French Academy, a somewhat misnamed institute in charge of all things related to the French language.  The first marble version wouldn’t be carved until several years later, where it would be displayed at the Ecole’s annual Salon de Paris exhibition in 1863.  Shortly afterwards, the piece was purchased by none other than Napoleon III himself, who then presented it to his wife, Empress Eugénie.  This statue, along with its younger sister, would be taken with the two to their new home in England following their exile after the fall of the Second Empire.  When Eugénie died, the statue was left to her nephew and would continue to trade hands before finally landing at its current resting place, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  Several other reproductions in marble and bronze were also made and sold around the time of its creation.

Though it appears to go hand in hand with the original, Girl with a Shell was actually only carved several years later, and at that was merely a study piece.  Amazing, isn’t it?  What one artist considers a study, the rest of us consider a priceless masterpiece.  Despite the statue’s humble origin, it soon joined its older brother after also being acquired by the Empress, and the two would never part ways again as they made their journey, their synergistic nature apparent to all who laid eyes upon them.  She now stands with her sibling in the National Gallery of Art, quietly flanking one of the entrances into the central dome.

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux – Jeune Fille à la Coquille (Girl with a Shell) (1863-1867)

The statues are near life size and positively radiate with joy.  The children’s exuberant expressions combined with their playful poses make it no wonder why these two pieces  gained such popularity despite their modest size and subject matter.  The best ideas are often not the most grandiose but rather the most well executed, and here lies no better example.  From the fine ridges of the conch shells, to the subtle details of the muscles and bones, to the delicate motion of the children’s fingers, the two statues are almost magnetic in nature, and it was difficult to walk away once they had captured my attention.  The more one stares at them, the more details one notices.  Interestingly, we can see Carpeaux’s artistic improvements in the girl’s statue when compared to her older brother.  The shell which the girl holds is noticeably more detailed, her features are softer and more humanlike when compared to the boy’s smoother, slightly plastic appearance, and the choice to have the her sit on a woven basket overflowing with sardines is a significantly greater challenge than the simple sandy beach on which the boy kneels.

Despite today’s appreciation, Carpeaux’s artwork was surprisingly controversial for its time.  The Baroque movement took hold in the 17th century in Rome and was actually spurred on by the Catholic church as a more vibrant counter to the comparatively dull and rigid Protestant art.  Only around a century prior had Martin Luther nailed his pesky letter to the church door, so Catholicism was doing all it could to sway Christians back to their side.  To this end, the Baroque style employs exaggerated emotions and movements, and features heavy use of ornamentation in an attempt to bring viewers to their knees, figuratively and literally.  However, certain detractors found this tidal wave of detail and romanticism to be too garish and aggressive.  Carpeaux’s architectural decorations were sometimes even criticized for outshining the buildings which they adorned, which is arguably the most flattering critique one could receive.  Despite its objections, the Baroque movement would continue to become a staple of Catholic and even Protestant art, and would eventually evolve into the more lighthearted Rococo style.

Throughout his artistic career, Carpeaux always carried an entrepreneurial focus, and he would constantly do all he could to promote and sell his work.  This carried on even during his earliest studies at the Ecole, a practice which was strictly forbidden by the academy yet for some reason (or perhaps for obvious reasons) was never challenged.  He was noted for refusing to give up reproduction rights to his works, a risky move which eventually paid off as his popularity exploded and he established his own studio.  In fact, his constant exhibition and self marketing was actually seen as brash and aggressive among critics of his time, and this shameless promotion combined with his grip on the control of his work cemented his reputation as, as the NGA puts it, an “institutional bad boy”.  Despite this, Napoleon III himself would continue to be a recurring patron, and Carpeaux would eventually be given the Legion of Honour, France’s highest order of merit, in 1866.

Unfortunately, Carpeaux’s time as an artist was cut tragically short.  As mentioned earlier, he struggled with illness even prior to leaving for Rome.  Neapolitan Fisherboy debuted at the Salon in 1863, but by the fall of the Second Empire in 1870 he was struggling with cancer and had already begun to wind his career down, focusing primarily on finishing existing commissions and only taking on smaller projects.  The last two years of his life were spent traveling before finally passing in 1875 at the age of 48.  To this day, Neapolitan Fisherboy remains one of his most popular works, but it is only with the company of his younger sister that the two pieces shine brighter than either one of them could do alone.

The Child Portraits of Laurie Wilson

Laurie Wilson is another one of the artists that has largely been forgotten and not much information exists either in books or on the internet. Child studies were only a small part of this artist’s collection, in fact these images may be the only ones on the internet. I still believe there are enough images to warrant inclusion on a website dedicated to the female child throughout art history. What made me write an article about this artist was when the following image disappeared off the Australian National Gallery website.

Laurie Wilson – No title (1977)

Taking into account the hysteria and irrational behavior surrounding child nudes many could guess why it disappeared. It appears similar in style to George Platt Lynes, so it may be inspired by that set of images or it could be coincidence. The following is a close up portrait of Gabby, implying that much like George’s set of images there should also be a set of Laurie’s images.

Laurie Wilson – Gabby (1977)

Lawrence “Laurie” Wilson was born on 17 August 1920 at Geelong West, Victoria, Australia, to parents George Alfred Wilson, laborer, and his wife Lilian May, née Oldaker. The artist had the most minimal of education, leaving Newtown State School at age 14, to help his father run the family farm.

The first sign that he had an interest in photography came in 1941 when he started work as an assistant at Lockwood’s Photographic Studio, this was probably the extent of his photographic training. The artist left after only ten months and started searching for a higher paying job, which he found at the Corio Theatre.

Laurie Wilson – The Imp (1968)

Wilson and his wife, Gwen, started their own studio in 1945, whilst supplementing their income through teaching ballroom dance. The secondary business was helpful in promoting the photographic studio as they would photograph their dancers at the end of each dance season. The main focus, and income, for the artist at this time was wedding and debutant photography. To a lesser extent there was also family, farm-based and small scale commercial photographic jobs, as well as making calendars for local customers and his own business.

Wilson had been physically frail all of his life, though it was a major operation and subsequent treatment for bowel cancer in 1963 that caused him to close his studio, sell his equipment and live off an invalid pension. As much as ninety-five percent of his archive from this early period is presumed lost. Unexpectedly, this decision resulted in what could possibly be a larger and more noticeable collection of work.

Laurie Wilson – Girl on a Sandy Beach (1975)

After regaining his strength and adjusting to his new disabilities he joined his local camera and photographic club. Being a part of this club increased his skill and knowledge of how to create interesting and memorable images. He remained within the club for the rest of his life. The first show to display his work was the small, yet still noticeable Castlemaine Camera Club in 1966. From this point onwards the shows he displayed at became more frequent and noticeable. From 1966 up to the start of 1974 his work had been exhibited at sixty-four different shows and competitions, from local all the way up to international level. During these eight years he was also awarded thirty seven trophies as well as a Associate membership in 1970, followed by a Fellowship in 1971 of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain. Due to the time that has elapsed and the lack of information available it is unlikely that anyone knows how this accomplishment was achieved.

Landscape photography constituted most of Wilsons output, to a lesser degree there was also documentary, still life, abstract and portrait photography. One of these portraits was considered so memorable and of such high quality, yet also charming and innocent that it deserved to be on the cover of an exhibition catalogue.

Laurie Wilson – Cover of Woman 1975

WOMAN 1975, was my introduction to the work created by this artist. It is part catalogue, part book and part historical record of an exhibition put together by the Young Women’s Christian Association of Australia to celebrate 1975, the International Year of the Woman. It was exceptionally rare for these images to appear within Australian publications, let alone on a cover. The untitled image outcompeted a thousand other images to become the cover photo and further enhanced the artist’s recognition.

There is no record of Wilson having a solo exhibition. He came close, when in 1975 a collection of his images was exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), in conjunction with John Cato’s photographic essays. Also in 1975 one of his images, from the Dog Rocks collection, was exhibited at the international exhibition, The Land, at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The image was the only Australian photograph selected. Additionally, in the same year, he received a grant from the Visual Arts Board of the Australian Council. No longer restrained by the need to save money for fuel and accommodation costs he spent most of the following year travelling around Victoria and greatly increased his landscape photography portfolio. A selection of this work was exhibited in the NGV along side John Rhodes’ Australia, in 1978.

Laurie Wilson – Rainy Day (1970’s)

By 1978 his health was deteriorating and he returned to focus on reworking old negatives, as well as photographing local landscapes. Laurie Wilson died from cancer in September of 1980. As he had no close descendants much of his archive and money was bequeathed to the NGV. The bequest allowed for the production of a book displaying his work. Published in 1982 and entitled Laurie Wilson, it largely focuses on his landscapes, however, contains none of his child portraits. His work is held in many other Australian and International institutions, however over time he has increasingly been forgotten.

There is very little information on the internet about the artist. Most of this article was compiled from the above mentioned book and also The Australian Dictionary of Biographies. More images may be added if they become available, hopefully the few that do exist do not completely disappear into the archives.

Speer’s Khoikhoi Girls

Speer – Young Hottentot Girls (circa1910)

This photo appears in at least two early 20th century books: Das Weib bei den Naturvolkern : eine Kulturgeschichte der Primitiven Frau by Ferdinand Freiherr von Reitzenstein (c1928), and Woman : an Historical, Gynæcological and Anthropological Compendium by Hermann Heinrich Ploss, Maximilian Bartels,Paul Bartels, and Eric John Dingwall (1935). The second book, by Ploss et al, is based on Das Weib in der Natur- und Völkerkunde : Anthropologische Studien by Dr. H. Ploss (1885), but the photo of the Khoikhoi girls is not in the 1885 book. It should be noted that for all of these books, not all editions have the same photographs.

The first book is in German, and the second is in English. Captions in both German and English identify the girls as “Hottentots”. In researching the background of this photo I read that many today consider the term Hottentot to be derogatory, and prefer the term Khoikhoi. Therefore I used Khoikhoi in the title of this article, but for the sake of historical accuracy I have retained Hottentot in the caption. In America the Khoikhoi would be considered Black, but they are racially distinct from other Black people in Africa.

Ploss et al and the Baron von Reitzenstein both attribute the photograph to Speer. Neither book contains any more information about Speer. Ploss has another photograph from Speer, of the girl on the left in the photo in this article. In that photo the girl is posed to focus attention on her genitals, and I did not think that photo would be acceptable for Pigtails. I do not know if Speer took any more photos in addition to those two. The photos may be from a book by Emil Speer, Zur Erinnerung an meine Dienstzeit beim Pferdedepot Sud S.W. Afrika Weihnachten 1911. Apparently Emil Speer was in the military in what was then German Southwest Africa and could be the Speer who took this photograph. I have not seen the book, so I do not know if it truly is the source of the photos. The homeland of the Khoikhoi includes Namibia, formerly German Southwest Africa.

The photo may be considered an anthropological contrivance, but it is definitely posed for an aesthetic purpose. From what I have seen of books from the early 20th century, nude photographs were more respectable then, and may not have needed a contrivance.

Drawings by Luc-Olivier Merson

Nicolas Luc-Olivier Merson was born in Paris in 1846. His father was a painter, and Luc-Olivier followed his father in becoming an artist. He studied in France and Italy, and was awarded several honors and commissions. He was a leading painter of the Classicism school, adhering to traditional styles. Merson’s designs for currency and postage stamps were accepted by the French government. Merson was awarded the Legion of Honor for his contributions to French art.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Étude de Figures (undated)

Most of the figures in Merson’s paintings are adults. Male children are often portrayed as cherubs, but they are painted with a very effeminate appearence. The first of Merson’s work shown in this post does not have any girls in it, but I hope Ron will allow it because it is an example of how Merson made illustrations of boys that look like girls. In many of his paintings, the cherub’s sex is concealed by the pose or drapery. In this illustration the male genitals are visible, but are small and seem to have been added as an afterthought.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Fillette Nue (undated)

I am reminded of a post in Pigtails here, about Eugene Delacroix. Delacroix used a female model for the infant Jesus, and Pip wrote, “There is also an argument to be made that he may have chosen a female purposely, since feminine children were already perceived as prettier and more graceful than masculine children by then…” In addition to Delacroix, the painter Eliseu Visconti and the sculptor Abastenia St. Leger Eberle used a female models to portray boys. I have a feeling that Merson may have also used female children as his models, even if they were portraying males.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Head of Boy Singing (undated)

The following two drawings are from different places on the internet. Fillette Nue (Naked Girl) is the title of the first. The second was titled in English Head of Boy Singing. It looks like the same model was used for both drawings. Was the model a boy or a girl?

Luc-Olivier Merson – Etude de Fillette Nue (undated)

Etude de Fillette Nue appears to be the same model as Fillette Nue and Head of Boy Singing. In this case, there is no doubt that the model was a girl. Note the similarity in the musculature of the legs and hair style. Note also a faint sketch of wings behind the figure. Apparently this figure was intended to be painted as a cherub. Since Merson tended to strictly follow classical conventions, his cherubs were male, even though the model may have been a girl.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Etude de Fillette (undated)

Opéra-Comique is a prestigious Paris opera company. Luc-Olivier Merson apparently created an artwork for Opéra-Comique, but I was only able to find this drawing that seems to be a preliminary sketch. Merson made many drawings (but not paintings) of children, including boys, girls, and those whose sex was indeterminate. Strangely, I was not able to find a painting (as opposed to a drawing) of a child that was definitely intended to be a girl.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Etude Pour L’Opera Comique (undated)

Young Girl is a drawing, but it is not strictly monochrome; it was drawn with red chalk and black pencil.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Fillette Nue Debout de Trois-Quarts à Droite (undated)

Le Pas De Danse (The Dance Step) and Young Naked Girl illustrate the graceful sense of movement that typifies Merson’s art. Étude de Face de Fillette Nue Debout and Young Naked Girl both appear to be holding something, but it is not clear what it is.

Luc-Olivier Merson – Young girl (undated)

Luc-Olivier Merson – Le Pas De Danse (undated)

Luc-Olivier Merson – Young Naked Girl (undated)

Luc-Olivier Merson – Étude de Face de Fillette Nue Debout (undated)