The Girl and Her Vessel: A Psycho-Artistic Examination

While I am not a subscriber to the Freudian philosophy in full, I do find it fascinating and worth looking into from time to time. What most interests me is what I would call proto-Freudianism, a sort of loose and unfocused examination of concepts like the symbolic phallus and vagina in art. The phallus in artistic imagery is well-documented; less so the vagina. When the vagina has been represented symbolically, it generally manifests in two forms: the flower and the vessel. In my post Deflowered, I addressed the latter in a particular context, namely the shattered or broken vessel as it represented the loss of virginity. Here we will examine the same symbol in its purer form, before it is broken. Thus, in Freudian terms we are looking at girls who are still sexually innocent. The symbolism is rarely conscious on the part of artists, but for a Freudian that hardly matters. Of particular concern to us are pieces from the heyday of Freudianism (late 19th to mid 20th century), when artists were more likely to be aware of the sexual symbolism in their work and could choose either to accentuate it or downplay it.

Our first couple of pieces are a pair of objets d’art from unknown artists, Niña con cántaro and Niña llevando un cántaro (Girl with Pitcher and Girl Carrying a Pitcher respectively). In the first, one of the girl’s sleeves has fallen off her shoulder, thus baring one of her nipples. As Journey Darkmoon pointed out in his Chauncey Bradley Ives post, the revelation of the little girl’s nipple symbolizes her innocence, as she is unaware of the deeper connotation of such an act. This, coupled with the vessel at her feet, symbolizes feminine innocence. In the second example, the girl is nude altogether (save for a couple of bows in her hair), but again her innocence is clear.

Artist Unknown – Niña con cántaro (ca. 1920)

Artist Unknown – Niña llevando un cántaro (1)

Artist Unknown – Niña llevando un cántaro (2)

The trend continues with this set from Lladró. The famous porcelain company’s history of producing charming child pieces is unrivaled.

Lladró – Little Peasant Girl (Blue, Yellow & Pink Variants)

A common theme running through all of these pieces is nudity, partial nudity or, as in the case of Bessie Potter Vonnoh‘s Garden Figure, an ephemeral sort of drapery. Again, this is all meant to reinforce the fact that these are innocent young girls. The vessels they bear are unbroken for a reason. Vonnoh’s little vessel bearer was later used as part of the Frances Hodgson Burnett Memorial Fountain.

Bessie Potter Vonnoh – Garden Figure; ‘Garden Figure’ Maquette

Bessie Potter Vonnoh – Frances Hodgson Burnett Memorial Fountain

Art Deco and other modern artists tended to focus on early adolescent models rather than prepubescent ones, such as this lighter/ashtray combo piece, Juan Cristobal‘s Niña con cántaro and Joseph Bernard‘s The Water Bearer.

Artist Unknown – Nude Girl with New Yorker Lighter and Ashtray (1929)

Juan Cristobal – Niña con cántaro (1926)

Joseph Bernard – The Water Bearer (1912)

One of my absolute favorite pieces in this vein is Peruvian sculptor Juan José Paredes Antezana’s Niña A. It’s difficult to pin down the date here but the style seems fairly modern.

Juan José Paredes Antezana – Niña A

Here are two rare examples in which our young water carriers are fully clothed. They are by Ramon Martí Alsina and Ricardo de Madrazo y Garreta respectively.

Ramon Martí Alsina – Niña con cántaro

Ricardo de Madrazo y Garreta – Regreso de la fuente (1878)

V. Marseille’s topless adolescent water bearer is a fine modern exemplar of the trend.

V. Marseille – Girl with Water Jug

Our sole photographic entry in this subject is a piece by Rudolf Lehnert and Ernst Landrock. Judging by the iconography on her vessel, this little girl appears to be Arabic or North African, possibly Egyptian. Lehnert & Landrock really deserve a dedicated post of their own on Pigtails. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable on the pair will do us the honor.

Lehnert & Landrock – (Title Unknown)

This sculpture of a boy and girl retrieving water, which I’ve posted here before, is one of the most blatantly Freudian pieces I’ve ever come across. Here we have two vessels, the water jug, which has a spigot and is held up by the young boy (one of the rare times when the vessel takes on a masculine aspect rather than a feminine one), and the cup in the little girl’s hand. Take note of the almost wanton look on the thirsty girl’s face as she raises her cup to be filled by the boy. Note too how uncomfortably close her cup is to the boy’s genitalia. The boy also sits above the girl, reflecting his sexual dominance of her. Clearly the artist who created this piece (Edme Marie Cadoux) did so with at least some degree of awareness of all these cues. That this would all be accidental seems rather unlikely to me.

Edme Marie Cadoux – At the Fountain (1887)

Otherwise, even when the vessel is borne by a male, it still retains its feminine attributes, which subtly suggests homosexuality. The context is certainly relevant in this piece by Neoclassical sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. In this image we see the goddess Hebe, formerly the cup bearer of the gods, passing her serving vessels on to Ganymede, the boy who replaced her in this duty, while Zeus in his eagle form looks on. If you know your Greek myths, then you are well aware that young Ganymede was also one of Zeus’s lovers.

Bertel Thorvaldsen – Hebe and Ganymede

Speaking of Ganymede, he was the original representative for the zodiac sign Aquarius. Over time a girl or young woman tended to replace Zeus’s catamite in artistic representations of the sign for perhaps obvious reasons. Eduard Steinbrück‘s Die Nymphe der Düssel could’ve been the prototype for modern images of Aquarius. (See also the Deflowered post linked above for symbolism surrounding the adolescent girl dipping her toe into the water.)

Eduard Steinbrück – Die Nymphe der Düssel

Finally, we have a pair of candlesticks, a boy and a girl, by Edward Francis McCartan. Again, even the boy is rather feminized, all the more so for holding an amphora. These are certainly eroticized portrayals of youth, which McCartan was no stranger to.

Edward Francis McCartan – Children Holding Amphorae (early 20th cent.)(1)

Edward Francis McCartan – Children Holding Amphorae (early 20th cent.)(2)

Edward Francis McCartan – Children Holding Amphorae (early 20th cent.)(3)

Edward Francis McCartan – Girl Holding Amphora (early 20th cent.)(1)

Edward Francis McCartan – Girl Holding Amphora (early 20th cent.)(2)

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.


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.


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.

Hippolyte Moreau

And we’re back in Gaul with François Moreau, better known as Hippolyte, one of three sculptor brothers who were the sons of another sculptor, Jean-Baptiste Moreau. I’m guessing that Jean-Baptiste really wanted his kids to follow in the old man’s footsteps! Well they certainly did. Although Hippolyte, the middle brother, was somewhat overshadowed by the baby of the family, Auguste, he did some wonderful stuff in his own right.

Hippolyte was born in Dijon in 1834, a full ten years after his older brother Mathuri, and Auguste would come along about two years after Hippolyte. He exhibited his work at the Salon throughout the late 1800s up until 1914. His sculptures even won awards at both the Exposition Universelle of 1878 and the Exposition Universelle of 1900. His most reknowned piece is a statue of French scientist Alexis Clairaut at the Hôtel de Ville de Paris, the Paris Town Hall. He died in Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1927. The majority of his works are now housed at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon.

Hippolyte’s pieces, like his younger brother’s, have often been rendered as objets d’art and that’s the case with all but one of the examples shown here. Our first piece is Le Petit Chaperon Rouge. You know who that is don’t you? A certain little girl with a red cape who is off to see her grandma with a basket of goodies, that’s who!

Hippolyte Moreau - Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (1)

Hippolyte Moreau – Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (1)

Hippolyte Moreau - Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (2)

Hippolyte Moreau – Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (2)

Hippolyte Moreau - Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (3)

Hippolyte Moreau – Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (3)

And speaking of little girls with baskets…

Hippolyte Moreau - Girl with Basket (1)

Hippolyte Moreau – Girl with Basket (1)

Hippolyte Moreau - Girl with Basket (2)

Hippolyte Moreau – Girl with Basket (2)

Hippolyte Moreau - Girl with Basket (3)

Hippolyte Moreau – Girl with Basket (3)

Hippolyte Moreau - Girl with Basket (4)

Hippolyte Moreau – Girl with Basket (4)

Here’s a sweet little lady with a tiny guitar.

Hippolyte Moreau - Fillette musicienne (Fillette à la guitare) (1)

Hippolyte Moreau – Fillette musicienne (Fillette à la guitare) (1)

Hippolyte Moreau - Fillette musicienne (Fillette à la guitare) (2)

Hippolyte Moreau – Fillette musicienne (Fillette à la guitare) (2)

Hippolyte Moreau - Fillette musicienne (Fillette à la guitare) (3)

Hippolyte Moreau – Fillette musicienne (Fillette à la guitare) (3)

Hippolyte Moreau - Fillette musicienne (Fillette à la guitare) (4)

Hippolyte Moreau – Fillette musicienne (Fillette à la guitare) (4)

One of Moreau’s favorite subjects was the child couple as represented by the last three pieces.

Hippolyte Moreau - (Title Unknown) (1)

Hippolyte Moreau – (Title Unknown) (1)

Hippolyte Moreau - (Title Unknown) (2)

Hippolyte Moreau – (Title Unknown) (2)

Hippolyte Moreau - (Title Unknown) (3)

Hippolyte Moreau – (Title Unknown) (3)

Hippolyte Moreau - (Title Unknown) (4)

Hippolyte Moreau – (Title Unknown) (4)

Hippolyte Moreau - (Title Unknown) (5)

Hippolyte Moreau – (Title Unknown) (5)

Hippolyte Moreau - Deux chérubins (1)

Hippolyte Moreau – Deux chérubins (1)

Hippolyte Moreau - Deux chérubins (2)

Hippolyte Moreau – Deux chérubins (2)

Hippolyte Moreau - Deux chérubins (3)

Hippolyte Moreau – Deux chérubins (3)

Hippolyte Moreau - Deux chérubins (4)

Hippolyte Moreau – Deux chérubins (4)

Hippolyte Moreau - Deux chérubins (5)

Hippolyte Moreau – Deux chérubins (5)

Hippolyte Moreau - Deux jeunes enfants avec couronne et guirlande de fleurs

Hippolyte Moreau – Deux jeunes enfants avec couronne et guirlande de fleurs

Random Images: Dolls and Mannequins?

I was just informed by a close colleague that I am incorrect on both counts regarding my suggestion that these images are mannequins.  Please read the notes at the bottom for clarification. -Ron

The last two of Pip’s “test” images are not photographs of actual girls.  Depending on your definition, they might be called dolls or mannequins.  When I got these, I had just learned that there was a whole artistic discipline dedicated to producing these dolls, not to mention the collectors who restore them.  I acquired a couple of books on the subject which I will review in due course, but I am hoping someone will come forward who is more expert than I am to inform readers about this remarkable field.  The artists credited here are the photographers, not the producers of the mannequins.

Anoush Abrar and Aimée Hoving met during their college years and started working together in 2003 starting mainly as portrait photographers, but gradually made their way in the world of fashion photography.  Their approach was to take fashion photos the way one would photograph art.  The pair stopped working together near the end of 2012.

Anoush Abrar and Aimée Hoving - Adelina

Anoush Abrar and Aimée Hoving – Adelina

After examining Jacqueline Roberts’ curriculum vitae and body of work, Pigtails will have to do a proper post on her at some point.  She was born in Paris in 1969, studied Political Science and then took up the camera.  She is completely self-taught.  Her key inspiration is Julia Margaret Cameron and like her (and Sally Mann), she likes to work with more antiquated photographic methods.  She feels today’s techniques make the images too disposable and she wishes to make them “precious” again.

Jacqueline Roberts - Noli me tangere

Jacqueline Roberts – Noli me tangere

Comment: I recall that the first image went along with some article about the sexualization of girls or something of the kind. It is intended to convey the idea of a girl who is basically a toy of the fashion industry. If you look at her shirt, you can see her nipples are very much rounded and a little dark; they wouldn’t do that on an actual mannequin. The second image is of Jacqueline Roberts’ daughter. You can see her in several of the series at her website, especially ‘Kindred Spirits’ and ‘Under the Influence’. The photo has been digitally manipulated. If you look closely, you can see where the mannequin ends and the real girl begins about halfway up her chest. The mannequin is slightly shinier and a little different color.

My Response: Well, it appears that I failed the test here.  The reason I thought the first image was a mannequin was because the way the shirt hung on the shoulders (and to some degree, the look of the clavicle).  It didn’t feel as though it “stuck” properly like it would on real skin.  I have to disagree about the level of detail that are put into these dolls. Perhaps an ordinary mannequin would not have this kind of detail, but realistic dolls do (and I hope to feature some here).  I did visit Roberts’ site and noticed that same girl and so I did have doubts, but with digital manipulation, how can we be sure whether an image is digitally manipulated or an artist has produced a hyperrealistic doll?  I suppose it would make sense to assume photographic manipulation since it is much easier to do.  But I would like to assure readers that there are some dolls out there that look shockingly like the real thing, especially when viewing only the bust.

[160117] Here is some follow up information:

There is a French PDF file where the author discusses Adelina:

Anoush agrémente notamment tous les deux ans une collection de séquences mettant en scène Adelina, 11 ans en 2005, se trémoussant sur le tube du moment à la manière des clips vidéo qui passent en boucle sur MTV. Une manière de montrer – par le passage de l’enfance à l’adolescence, puis à l’âge adulte – le temps qui passe et modifie les notions d’innocence et de conscience de soi. «Moi, j’aime les visages et les corps qui se marquent. C’est quelque chose qui m’intéresse, la décrépitude.» Quant à Aimée, elle explore les nombreuses possibilités du portrait en replaçant par exemple des avocats de la place dans le cadre de leur bureau, des jeunes filles dans leur chambre d’internat ou des femmes adultes dans la maison qui les a vues grandir. «Quand j’ai enfin un peu de temps pour moi, je me mets à réfléchir au temps qui passe. Et c’est ce qui m’effraie le plus, car on ne peut pas lutter contre le quotidien qui t’emmène dans sa course et que tu ne peux que suivre.» En photographie, le temps qui passe semble en fin de compte beaucoup plus présent qu’on ne l’imagine.

English Translation:

Anoush decorates including all two years a collection of sequences starring Adelina, 11 years in 2005, fidgeting on the tube of the moment like video clips passing loop on MTV. A way to show – by the passage from childhood to adolescence and then adulthood – the time that passes and amends the concepts of innocence and self-awareness. “Me, I like the faces and bodies that will mark. It’s something that interests me, decrepitude.” As Aimée, she explores the possibilities of the portrait replacing for example lawyers to place in their office, young girls in their boarding room or adult women in the House which saw them grow. “When I finally have a little time for me, I start to think about the time that passes. And this is what frightens me the most, because we cannot fight against the daily that takes you on his race and that you can follow.” In photography, the time that passes seems much more present than we imagine ultimately.

Apparently there was a plan for a whole series of photos featuring Adelina, at age 11, as she transitioned from childhood to adulthood.  It is not known if this project was ever completed, but there seems to be only this single photo posted online.  At least some other photographs must exist and perhaps someone fluent in French could contact these photographers to discover what became of them.


Porcelain Dolls

A traditional craft in some parts of Germany and in neighboring regions such as Alsace is the making of dolls whose head, neck, forearms and lower legs are in porcelain. Often their facial features are painted by hand, and nice dolls have their eyes in painted glass, with eyelashes attached to the eyelids. The rest of the body, being covered by clothes, usually consists of padded tissue.

Dolls can be found in various styles. Some resemble young women and look a bit like Barbie, while others represent babies or toddlers. But the classical model is the “romantic” doll, a 9-year-old girl dressed in Victorian style with a robe going down just under the knees, bloomers covering the legs and high laced boots; they generally have long hair, often with plaits. The price varies according to size and quality, but you can count 150€ (about $159 US) for a good quality 60cm doll.

In order to make them stand upright, one fastens around their waist a metallic holder attached to a wooden base. Under the base of the ones I have, there is a warning label:

Purely decorative item. Not suitable as a toy for children!

Indeed, porcelain dolls are a gift for adults, not for children. Adult fans will collect them, cherishing and admiring each one.

I will present here photographs of my dolls as they stand in their “natural environment” inside my apartment. I start with one that I bought second-hand in a flea market in Brussels at the end of the eighties. It is not particularly beautiful, her eyes are just painted, but her pale lunar appearance imparts to her some mystery and for a long time I fancied her having magical powers. She sits next to my CDs and DVDs.

doll1BrusselsI have another old doll of a similar style, which I bought last year in a second-hand shop in Strasbourg. She reminded me that a second-hand doll is sometimes like a neglected child, left alone in a dusty place, who needs care. To make her pretty again, I had to wash her robe and bloomers, brush her face and hands with a soap-covered toothbrush, shampoo her hair then untangle them individually (a comb is too hard). Now she sits as a shy girl in an old chair on a small table next to a big dresser.

doll2OldMy other dolls were new ones bought in a souvenir shop. I show first the “twins”. I bought them the same day, they are the same size (32cm) and they stand facing each other in a showcase. I like the quite modern pink clothes of the second one; they give her a very sensual look.

doll3Blue doll4PinkThe next one (40cm without the hat), my latest acquisition, is special because her face looks more like that of a 5-year-old.

doll5BabyMy sixth doll (42cm without the cap), standing over my writing desk, has quite rustic clothes but her deep eyes captivate me sometimes.

doll6GreenThe next one (49cm without the hat) is in my bedroom. Look into her eyes; she seems so serious!

doll7BedroomI end with my two big ones. First a gorgeous redhead (58cm without the hat) with a beautiful robe covered with flowers; as it fits, she stands over a marble table.

doll8RedheadAnd now for my biggest and favorite (60cm). Her grey clothes are modest, but her face and smile ravish me, especially with her head slightly tilted to the right. Her hairstyle is very original, she has short hair overall, with two long plaits on each side; notice also the long side-locks in front of her ears, exactly like the “payot” worn by orthodox Jewish men and boys. She stands next to my computer and guards me when I am communicating or blogging through the Internet.

doll9PayotHere is a close-up of her beautiful face.

dollPayot-headCollecting dolls requires patience. Often one finds some whose face or smile is not engaging, or whose hands look crooked. A careful examination, especially of the porcelain parts, is necessary before purchasing it.

Update (2016/02/06): The two larger dolls come from the collection “Adele´s Puppenhaus” of the German company Reinart Faelens Kunstgewerbe GmbH.

Out of the Inkpot: Oyari Ashito

Many years ago, I worked at a print shop for some extra holiday income. I can’t remember how the subject came up, but another young man there introduced me to the new phenomenon of Japanese anime/manga. One of the earliest incarnations of this new formula was Sailor Moon. Not knowing much about biology, psychology or art history, the peculiar exaggerations of the characters’ features seemed unremarkable to me. I was amused to learn that though the animated program had targeted little girls, it was middle-aged men who were the most rabid fans.

Later, I did learn more about science and the humanities and now understand more about the unconscious appeal the characters have on the male mind. I took no further notice of anime until perhaps five years ago when I spotted a book called GIRLS AD2008 TOKYO (2003) by Oyari Ashito. This image appeared on the cover.

Oyari Ashito - In Dark Red (2001)

Oyari Ashito – In Dark Red (2001)

Unlike those in the past, these images caught my eye. The girls were adorable, of course, but Ashito’s work had a delicate quality that gave his images the feel of traditional Oriental watercolors.

Oyari Ashito - Talk with Teddy Bear (c2000)

Oyari Ashito – Talk with Teddy Bear (1997)

The other striking thing was that a large number of the images showed little girls wearing cat’s ears and tails. This evoked fond memories from my adolescence when girls would dress as cats, devils, angels, tigers, rabbits etc. for Halloween. I still haven’t got a full handle on the logic of this psychological impact yet, but somehow ears and a tail add something appealing to young girls and this post is an effort to advance my personal analysis. The book is a collection of images of girls mostly designed for a video game by developer Littlewitch. My favorites are the main characters in Episode of the Clovers named Sayu, Toka and Ema (left to right).

Oyari Ashito - from Episode of the Clovers (2002)

Oyari Ashito – from Episode of the Clovers (2002)

Born Shinichi Nochise “Nocchi” (後瀬 慎一) in 1974, Ashito got his start in the 1990s doing art for adult comics. At the same time, he was working on getting his art noticed through a kind of self-publishing collective the Japanese call a doujinshi. His big break came in 2001 when he helped produce the characters and backgrounds for a series of visual novels produced by Littlewitch. Because of the different genres he works in, his art has appeared under different names but Oyari Ashito (大槍葦人) is associated with his Littlewitch work. After the disbanding of Littlewitch in 2008, he continued his work with a new doujinshi entitling it “Girl Knights”.

Visual novels are interactive fiction games composed of mostly static graphics typically using anime-style art. As the name suggests, they resemble mixed-media novels, but some distinction is made between proper visual novels which are mostly narration with few interactive elements and adventure games which require problem-solving as part of the gameplay. The market for visual novels outside of East Asia is small and those that are marketed in the West have to contend with the issue of translation. Therefore, the most popular carry-overs are those where the visual content is paramount. The Littlewitch novels are classified as hentai (or H Games for short) which are erotic novels that give the reader/player a sense of being in the intimate inner world of the girls. Unfortunately, some producers have used this form to create explicit animated pornography which has stirred controversy in Japan and tainted the genre.

The four most popular stories from the Littlewitch productions are: Episode of the Clovers (2002), Quartett! (2004), Girlish Grimoire Littlewitch Romanesque (2005) and Rondo Leaflet (2006). The premise of Episode of the Clovers is that a researcher develops a set of combat androids (Ema, Sayu and Toka) who—for the most part—have a relaxing lifestyle until combat robots invade the laboratory and trigger a fierce battle. The term android is a bit misleading here because the girls are actually biological, not mechanical. Interspersed in the adventure are comments about their genetic strengths and defects and their parentage. The idea behind Quartett! is that there is heavy competition between chamber music groups to make it to the finals in a competition reputed to impart fame to the victors. But the players must navigate a series of interpersonal entanglements in order to stay on track. Girlish Grimoire takes place after a destructive magical war where knowledge of magic is practically extinguished. An instructor at a magical academy who has been neglecting his duties is exiled and is told to teach two young girls (Aria and Kaya) the art of magic in order to redeem himself. The story is about the girls’ training and encounter with various interesting characters. Rondo Leaflet is about an unmotivated servant who can’t seem to keep a job. He is given one last chance working at a dilapidated house which he must whip into shape and adventures take place as he does so. I have focused on Ashito’s earlier work because it has a more artistic feel with thicker lines and slightly amorphous forms that leave more to the viewer’s imagination. In time, Ashito progressed to the more conventional thinner lines and sharper forms which give his work a commercial feel. Consistent with this is the increased appearance of girls with bustier figures that conform to mainstream heterosexual male fantasies.

Ashito takes great care with his costumes and does counterpoint his more fantastic designs with more mundane but charming examples.

Oyari Ashito - Heart Warm (2004)

Oyari Ashito – Heart Warm (2003)

Most characters are distinctly Caucasian and wear western clothing like fancy gowns or skirts, lacy underwear, swimsuits etc. Here we see characters in maid costumes.

Oyari Ashito - On an Errand (2005)

Oyari Ashito – On an Errand (2001)

I have noticed that many Japanese artists have assimilated European iconography. Placing wings on a character is distinctly Western symbolizing spiritual flight.

Oyari Ashito - Sepha (2005)

Oyari Ashito – Sepha (2005)

Complete nudity occurs only occasionally in Ashito’s work. Here we see a transition from his earlier style with somewhat sharper lines and forms but still having a slightly impressionistic and dreamy atmosphere.

Oyari Ashito - Pink Pool (2000)

Oyari Ashito – Pink Pool (2007)

Beyond the obvious symbols of servitude which are arguably misogynistic, there is point to be made about the general impression of this piece. Again, we see ears and tails, but the neck shackles are more than just symbols; they also serve as a visual divider. They resemble the chokers women used to wear that added an elegant definition to their appearance. Similar effects are created by tank tops, tight skirts, boots and sometimes hats which create a series of horizontal layers that accentuate a woman’s proportions.

Oyari Ashito - Two Kittens (2003)

Oyari Ashito – Two Kittens (2006)

Ema from Episode of the Clovers is especially popular. The earliest incarnations of this character show a pigeon-toed posture indicative of little girls. Plastic figurines of Ema are also available, but please note that they do not include a tail!

Oyari Ashito - Two Small (2001)

Oyari Ashito – Two Small (2001)

Oyari Ashito - Ema in Black (c2005)

Oyari Ashito – Ema in Black (c2005)

A few readers have expressed surprise that Pigtails in Paint would feature this kind of artwork. This site has gotten a reputation lately for emphasizing high art and the empowerment of girls. These are very important purposes, but I want to remind the readers that our mission is to cover all portrayals of little girls—excepting illegal ones. Even more commercial portrayals tell us something about power in our society and erotica gives us insight into the applicable male or female psyche. People may find specific themes or images distasteful or lowbrow, but it is our intent to challenge and educate our readers.

Neither Pip nor I are familiar with manga artists so this is only one I intend to post.  However, if someone has something worthwhile to share about other artists, they are encouraged to make a proposal.  -Ron

Oyari Ashito official site

Littlewitch official site

Lladró’s Beach Babes

As summer nears an end (in the Northern Hemisphere), I feel compelled to cover something of the beach scene. As you may already know, I am fond of Lladró figurines and feel their style captures the essence of demure feminity. There are plenty of interesting Lladró pieces that I have yet to cover on Pigtails and I share some of them now.

One piece in particular, I feel comes out of left field. It belongs to a series of children with a day-of-the-week theme—one for girls and one for boys. Monday’s Child (girl) (6012) is an enigma with its peculiar mixture of elements. It appears to be a bathing beauty with a parasol, holding an ice cream cone near a tempted puppy. It illustrates very well the way the company molds and then assembles each piece separately. What is perplexing is that I cannot determine the place and time the design is supposed to represent. The frilly parasol suggests an upper-class girl of perhaps the Edwardian period, but the outfit is a kind of two-piece bikini. The skirt, however, looks like it belongs to a cheerleading or other dance uniform rather than a bathing suit. I find it a charming piece, but I can’t help wondering if this kind of outfit ever existed or if it is just a bit of clever fantasy?

Lladró - 6012 Monday's Child (girl) (1993) (1)

Lladró – 6012 Monday’s Child (girl) (1993) (1)

Lladró - 6012 Monday's Child (girl) (1993) (2)

Lladró – 6012 Monday’s Child (girl) (1993) (2)

Lladró - 6012 Monday's Child (girl) (1993) (3)

Lladró – 6012 Monday’s Child (girl) (1993) (3)

Lladró - 6012 Monday's Child (girl) (1993) (4)

Lladró – 6012 Monday’s Child (girl) (1993) (4)

Perhaps the most important rule for caring for one’s precious collectibles is: never expose them to direct sunlight. The temptation is to show them off in a prominent place, but that will expose them to long-term damage. Here is an example of a Monday’s Child whose colors were slightly bleached because of this.

Lladró - 6012 Monday's Child (girl) (1993) (5)

Lladró – 6012 Monday’s Child (girl) (1993) (5)

Another Lladró beach classic is Sandcastles (5488) and I am always impressed with any piece where the hat is not an unwelcome distraction.

Lladró - 5488 Sandcastles (1988)

Lladró – 5488 Sandcastles (1988)

Free as a Butterfly (1483) illustrates the southern European convention of allowing girls to appear topless up to a certain age or level of development.

Lladró - 1483 Free as a Butterfly (1985)

Lladró – 1483 Free as a Butterfly (1985)

Lladró official site
Other Lladró posts: ‘Fantastic Creatures’, ‘Young Blossoms’ and ‘An Exercise in Composition’

Half-Naked, Half-Dressed

It has been confirmed that the Glenice referred to on the porcelain plates in this series (and other similar series) is, in fact, Glenice Moore.  A publicity photo of Moore confirms her association with the company producing these collectibles.  [160514]

The rhetoric about child nudity reminds me a little of the metaphor of glass half-full versus glass half-empty people; which are you? Like most people, I purchase things that appeal to me and I do not always understand why at first. This was the case with a decorative plate entitled Amber. Serious art critics might derisively refer to this as kitsch and pay it no heed, but the fact that a particular style gains popularity says something about our psychology and our society and should be examined. I eventually realized that what intrigues me about this piece is that on the one hand, the girl shows a lot of bare skin, but the parts that are covered are actually quite dressy: nice frilly panties and proper dress shoes and socks. Her golden hair is also impeccably groomed with ribbons neatly tied into bows. It is clear from this state of affairs that she is getting ready to go out and is only one garment away from being fully dressed. She simply needs her dress to be slipped on over her head.

Glenice - Amber (1982)

Glenice – Amber (1982)

This piece was released by R.J. Ernst Enterprises, Inc. as part of “The Yesterday’s Series” in 1982. The plate refers to the artist simply as Glenice but it is probably Glenice Moore, a renowned painter and instructor who has had her work appear on at least 35 collector’s plates to date. It seems Amber was especially popular which may have prompted the company to also produce a figurine based on that image.

Glenice - Amber figurine (c1982)

Glenice – Amber figurine (c1982)

Glenice - Amber figurine (c1982) (detail)

Glenice – Amber figurine (c1982) (detail)

There are at least three plates in this series but the quality of the online versions are too poor to show here. Anyone having good pictures of these plates is encouraged to come forward and share. All three deal with children in the intimate setting of their toilette in days past. Amber takes place at a time before indoor plumbing evidenced by the wash basin she is using. Elmer is about to pull the chain on one of those old-fashioned toilets and Katie has completed her bath in a metal tub strategically placed by a wood-burning stove. I would love to learn more about the story behind the commissioning of these pieces.

Connections: Jean François Bauret and Jeff Koons

If one is an avid collector of artistic images, then he or she is bound to stumble across things that seem connected somehow.  This is how I discovered the Fränzi Fuhrmann connection among the German Expressionist painters known Die Brücke. So, one day I happened to recognize that an image I had in my collection of a Jeff Koons sculpture closely resembled a photograph I also had in my collection.  With a little bit of searching I discovered it was a photo by Jean François Bauret, though not having a title for the photo to confirm it, I am not even certain it is a Bauret photo.  I have not been able to find it anywhere else on the internet, and that is a problem.  With rare pieces like this I prefer to find at least two versions of it correctly labeled so that I am not just repeating someone else’s error (if an error was made.)  Pictures of the Koons sculpture, however, are more readily available on the internet.

Now, with regard to the Bauret photo, ordinarily I would not post images with such flimsy credit information, or at least not as labeled.  I might list them under the ‘Artist Unknown’ marker.  But in this case the mystery confounds me enough that I am posting both of these in the hope that someone out there might have more accurate information and/or a higher quality version of the photo.  In any case it is quite clear to me that Koons ripped off Bauret’s photo, or maybe Bauret took the photo for Koons to model his sculpture on.  Who knows?  One is hard-pressed to find any real connection between these two artists though.  Jean François Bauret is a classic art photographer who began his career in the 1950s.  His portraiture is pared down and elegant, his nudes very tasteful.  By contrast, Jeff Koons is a postmodern pop artist in the vein of Andy Warhol, and his work is either a critique of pop culture or a shameless wallowing in it; critics are split on this.  He has also used blatantly pornographic images in his work.  Not that I am against porn, even as art, but Koons’ poppy, lowbrow aesthetic I think actually accentuates the trashiness of porn rather than lifting it out of its perceived trashiness.  So what exactly is the connection here?

First, let’s look at the Koons sculpture.  Although it is difficult to tell in photos where it is usually placed against a white background, Naked is actually life-sized, its height just under four feet (45.5 inches to be exact, or around 116 centimeters if you’re on the metric system.)  But the most ironic thing about it is that it is part of a series called Banality.  Essentially a postmodern commentary on kitschy but high-end objets d’art, I can see where Koons was coming from by including it there, even if I don’t necessarily agree with his assessment; however, this was created in the mid 1980s, a bit before the moral panic over child pornography really set in, and nude children in art have since become anything but banal in many people’s eyes.

Jeff Koons – Naked (1985) (1)

Jeff Koons – Naked (1985) (2)

Jeff Koons – Naked (1985) (3)

Jeff Koons – Naked (1985) (4)

And now, here’s the photo from which the sculpture was obviously inspired.

Jean François Bauret – (Title Unknown)

Since I’m already posting a Bauret photo, I might as well post a couple more that fit the blog’s theme.  The first one is a portrait of late actor Klaus Kinski holding a small girl.  The little girl’s name is Nanoï and does not appear to be of any relation to Kinski.  I cannot find any information about her at all, so I am going to assume she was placed in the photo simply for the sake of contrast.

Edit: As I believed the child was actually a girl, I did not happen to look up the info on Klaus Kinski’s son Nikolai, but on a hunch I checked it just today.  Ladies and gents, we have a winner.  Nanhoï is in fact Nanhoï Nikolai Kinski, Klaus’s son.  You can definitely see the family resemblance here.  My confusion over this stemmed from the fact that I have never heard or read of him referred to by his first name, only by his middle name, Nikolai.  Anyway, even though it is a boy I am going to leave the image up, as I find it to be rather charming.

Jean François Bauret – Klaus Kinski & Nanoï (1979)

The cover of a photo book about twins.  The French have two words for twins, depending on gender: ‘jumeau’ (plural ‘jumeaux’) refers to a male twin and ‘jumelle’ (plural ‘jumelles’) to a female twin; hence, the title . . .

Jean François Bauret – Jumeaux & Jumelles (cover)

Jeff Koons (official site)

Wikipedia: Jeff Koons

Jean François Bauret (official site)

Wikipedia: Jean François Bauret (text in French)

Lladró, Part 3: An Exercise in Composition

Every piece of art can be subjected to analysis, but true art cannot be said to be strictly one thing or another; there are subtleties, intentional or not, that contribute to its visual impact. When one begins to study art, one learns how to recognize the ways in which each part shapes the whole. Lladró is an excellent illustration of this because each component is literally constructed one at a time and then assembled. On the one hand, each part is produced from a mold facilitating mass production, but each one is polished, painted and assembled individually by hand. A particular painter will specialize in certain pieces to afford consistency. The result: a set of works appearing visually identical, yet each subtly different. The typical figurine is composed of 15 to 20 molded parts. However, one particular high-end piece, 18th Century Coach, required about 350 molded parts!

Lladró – #1485 18th Century Coach (1985)

Peggy Whiteneck, in her excellent book Collecting Lladró: Identification & Price Guide (Second Edition), makes the very apt point that Lladró tends toward the feminine and female children are particularly well represented. The fact that all the designers have been men is instructive; they recognize at least some of what visually appeals to us about young girls—not only their physical appearance but their personality and manner as well.

Sometimes when I look at a piece, its existence seems to defy explanation. I am not speaking of the technical difficulty in producing the work but the mere fact of its composition. I find myself asking over and over again, “What possessed the artists to design and actually produce this work and then who would buy it?” To me, Mischievous Mouse is such a piece. At first when I saw it, it seemed like just another cute Lladró, but every time I came across it again, it would catch my eye. Finally, I asked the seller for pictures from other angles to get a better idea of why it appeals so much to me. Most commercial sculptures for home display are only interesting from one angle—the so-called hero’s view—but this one was different.

Lladró – #5881 Mischievous Mouse (1992)

Overall what is impressive about this piece is that even though the figure is covered head to toe in a mouse suit, it nonetheless shows off the girl’s figure. Notice the curve of her back that can be seen from the side. A compositional analysis is quite easy because there are no tiny elements like flowers and the work can be fully appreciated without an extreme close-up.

Lladró – #5881 Mischievous Mouse (detail) (1)

The most obvious separate components are the cat and ball and the girl is teasing the cat, hence the name.

Lladró – #5881 Mischievous Mouse (detail) (2)

The curl of the tail strikes me as sensuous and the almost gaudy bow gives added interest to the rear end to help counterbalance the busy front end. Though visually compelling, constructing such a tail for a life-size costume would seem almost impossible.

Lladró – #5881 Mischievous Mouse (detail) (3)

Again, the form-fitting suit shows off her frame, especially the calves and straining left foot, but the crinkling at the joints gives the impression of a comfortable fit.

Lladró – #5881 Mischievous Mouse (detail) (4)

There are three figurines in this mouse and cat series; the second is called Restful Mouse. Because of the figure’s posture, the suit this time shows off the shoulders, chest, thighs and once again the calves and feet. Lladró’s construction methods really hit home when I accidentally knocked this piece over, breaking off a few pieces. One of those was the cat which came off in one piece. In fact, I toyed with the idea of not gluing it back but it created an odd gap and I replaced it.

Lladró – #5882 Restful Mouse (1992)

The third figure, Loving Mouse (#5883), did not quite have the sensuous quality of the other two, so I don’t own this one. I hope you have enjoyed this exhibition of my favorite Lladrós. Others may grace these pages as they apply to a particular theme.

Lladró (official site)