In an earlier post, I included a postcard of a girl trying to be one of the boys. Gender aside, we are human beings who want to indulge in the pleasures of life. Until the fairly recent conveniences of life, the demanding requisites of reproduction and child-rearing for women made it more difficult for them—with the possible exception of girls born into aristocratic families. These postcards were meant to be humorous—it really shows how humor changes over time—but I feel a certain sadness when I look at them. That society should impose standards of dress and behavior on girls so that they are less able to experience the joys of freedom inspires pity. The opportunity to wear trousers (with permission or illicitly) must have seemed like a Godsend. A girl could then engage in exuberant physical activities with abandon and not risk appearing indecorous by accidentally exposing her private parts (with or without panties).
This is an oft-used play on words. I have seen many postcards with this theme which is a kind of contrivance for displaying an image of a cute naked little girl in public media. Although quite a few of “his” postcards are on the secondary market, biographical information is hard to come by.
Just clearing up a backlog of archived images here. I have no idea why these particular cards caught Pip’s eye, but it has been well established that images of children sell. On the one hand, their charm is disarming while subconsciously suggesting that these are safe stress-free family destinations.
Everyone have a safe and happy Halloween from all of as at Pigtails in Paint! Careful on those roads tonight. Watch out for little witches and goblins! Now, enjoy these vintage Halloween cards from Ellen Clapsaddle.
Marcelin Flandrin was an ethnic European Frenchman born in Algeria in 1889. Sources do not agree on when he went to Morocco, but he was definitely there by 1912 when it became a protectorate of France. Flandrin was an aviator and a photographer and served in the French military in Morocco. When the First World War began in Europe in 1914, Flandrin was transferred to France where he served in the French Army’s photographic department.
After the war, he returned to Morocco and lived in Casablanca. There he worked as a professional photographer, and documented the identity of Casablanca in the 1920s. In 1922 he reported on the visit to the French President to Morocco. In 1924 his photos, along with those of Rudolf Lehnert, were used to illustrate the book Nordafrica. In 1925 he took one of his most famous photos; the last photo of a Barbary Lion in the wild. He was the photographer for the Sultan of Morocco’s trip to France in 1926 . Flandrin was one of the greatest publishers of postcards of his time. He died in 1957.
It is hard to date his photos. Most sources I have seen do not even try to determine in what year his photos were taken. One source gave a “circa 1900” date for professional photographs by Flandrin, although he was only 11 years old at the time. Another source gave a circa 1930 date for the photo Esclaves dans les Bananiers. Slavery was abolished in Morocco in 1925, so it is very unlikely that a photo of slaves would have been taken in 1930. In the captions for the Flandrin photos in this post, the dates are given as circa 1925, but that is only a guess.
Although Flandrin is better known for photos of adults, war photography, and his pioneering work in aerial photography; he made several photos of young girls. Le Seigneur Passe !! is my favorite of his girl photos. The three interlaced arms in the center of the photo, the different directions the models are facing, and the expressions on the faces combine to give the photo a sense of movement and excitement.
The next photo, Les Trois Graces Africaines, shows the same three models in a more relaxed composition. It appears to be a simple photo at first glance, but there may be more to this work than is immediately apparent. I have seen two versions of this photo. The one posted here is the better quality. The other is a mirror image, as if the negative was flipped when it was printed. It is captioned as number 10 of the Nu Académique Marocain series, and has cancelled Moroccan postage stamps affixed. This demonstrates that it was considered respectable enough to be sent through the mail.
Nude art was popular in the early 20th century, but artists often felt that they had to employ contrivances to make the nudes respectable. One was the ethnographic contrivance, in which the nudes were shown as necessary to educate the viewer about a foreign culture. Orientalism, which is the exotic, romantic portrayals of Islamic culture, is a subcategory of that ethnographic contrivance. Another contrivance was to use nudity in the context of classical mythology, and still another was to portray nudity of an innocent prepubescent who could be considered asexual. Note that Flandrin appears to intentionally avoid using any of these contrivances for Les Trois Graces Africaines.
The title of the photo refers to the Three Graces of mythology. However, there is nothing in this photo that is suggestive of mythology. The Three Graces are conventionally portrayed in a line, with the center grace facing the opposite direction from the two on the ends of the line. The title Les Trois Graces Africaines serves to remind the viewer that Flandrin could easily have used this mythological contrivance, but chose not to. The painting below shows how the Three Graces should appear.
Flandrin documented the conditions in Morocco in the 1920s with photos of all ages and both sexes. His works include a few nudes of only prepubescent models, and these may be seen as employing the “innocent, asexual child” contrivance. Four photos of this kind appear below. Three are casual outdoor photos of girls, and one is an indoor photo posed as a model in a life-drawing class. Note that these photos demonstrate that Les Trois Graces Africaines would have worked just as well as Les Deux Graces Africaines, with the two youngest models only. This would have avoided arousing controversy by omitting the fully nude figure of the sexually mature young woman. Flandrin may have chosen to use a young woman with the two girls precisely for the purpose of challenging the viewer.
Flandrin is considered to be an Orientalist photographer, but I don’t think that any of the five photos posted above are Orientalist. The following photo by Lehnert and Landrock, Deux Fillettes Nues, et un Garçonnet, is an example of an Orientalist contrivance. Note the Moorish arch, the decorative tiles on the wall, and the ceramic jugs that give the photo an exotic near-eastern flavor.
The following two photos are examples of Flandrin photos that are Orientalist. In these, he uses the model’s clothing and props to show that these photographs document a non-western culture. However, since there is no nudity in these photos, he does not use Orientalism as a contrivance to make nudity acceptable.
Look again at Les Trois Graces Africaines, Le Seigneur Passe !! , and 18. Nu Académique Marocain. There are no near-eastern props in these photos. Even the hoop earrings would fit in with the art deco styles popular in Europe and America at that time. I believe that Flandrin’s attitude toward nude photography was expressed in the caption for another of his postcards. This was a photo of three nude models appearing quite happy, over an old French proverb that, translated into English is: “Where there is embarrassment, there is no pleasure.” The models were not embarrassed and needed no contrivance to justify their nudity. Flandrin may have thought that the viewer should not need a contrivance either.
I was sorting some of my art files today and spotted this little fairy postcard. I do not know the artist. One thing I noticed about the little girl is that the artist really feminized her, giving her small breasts and dainty hands and feet. Very Victorian. The background also appears to have been influenced by Asian art.
There are no detailed biographies about the artist, despite her fame and prolific output, though we do know that she started her studies at Clapham High School and after graduating in 1905, continued her education at the Clapham School of Art. She briefly studied teaching, however her father believed she was unsuited to this profession and redirected her attention towards painting. Once established as an artist she studied at Heatherley’s School of Art from 1918 till 1923, as she believed a new school would improve her technique.
Tarrant’s first published works were Christmas cards and in 1908 she illustrated her first book, an edition of The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. The following year she created a series of paintings that were published as postcards by C.W. Faulkner. Over the next decade the artist continued to paint for various postcard publishers and also made illustrations for several books. Many of these works were exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Walker Royal Society of Artists and the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.
During the 1920s fairies became popularised, helped by the publication of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book Do You Believe in Fairies? and Tarrant was a major part of this scene. During this decade she collaborated with Marion St. John Webb on a series of fairy books, which displayed images of fairies along with short stories and poems. The books were similar to Cecily Mary Barker’s, both artists were friends, however they differed as Tarrant’s pictures were less naturalistic, more stylised and in the Art Nouveau style. Fairy stories were not the only type of paintings that the artist produced, she also created illustrations for children’s stories, books about animals, poems and verses. Additionally, she created a series of wild flower postcards, that she considered to be her best work, and religious themes appeared often. Many examples of her religious paintings can be found in this Flickr album.
After 1920 the artist was working almost exclusively for the Medici Society, who turned her paintings into postcards, calendars, greeting cards and prints. In 1936 the Society sent her on a holiday to Palestine where she enjoyed sketching landscapes and street scenes, two subjects that she rarely painted prior to this trip.
During the 1940s Tarrant slowed her output, though she did donate a lot of paintings to the war effort and produced images for about six books. With her health and eyesight deteriorating she stopped working in the mid-1950s and died from Multiple Myeloma in July 1959, leaving some pictures to friends and the rest of her estate to twelve charities.
The artist worked in many media, including pen, watercolor, graphite and silhouette type drawings. Her work is still popular today and the Medici Society is still selling prints on it’s website.
A Premium Postcard Collection: It is with great excitement that I announce that my friend Stuart—who has perhaps the world’s biggest collection of Edwardian postcards—has finally consented to share his collection with Pigtails readers. It will take time to sort through and scan thousands of postcards but as they become available, I will share them here. For starters, some new Reutlinger images have come to light and that post has been updated. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that this generosity is greatly appreciated.
Guilt by Association: On May 9th, photographer Chris Madaio is scheduled to stand trial for charges that he violated the conditions of his parole after serving 4 years in prison for possession of child pornography (see more details on his story here). Although Madaio does not contest the original charges, the Morgan County, Alabama authorities seem determined to find any excuse to continue to punish him. The new charges are based on images found on a computer and some USB drives found in a storage unit with his name on it. The unit belonged to two women, the sister and a friend of Samuel Hyde. Hyde was a convicted sex offender whom Madaio knew for a short time while attending the same court-ordered program. The women allowed Hyde personal use of the unit, but neither they nor Hyde have been indicted. To complicate things further, Hyde made a statement against Madaio before dying under mysterious circumstances. It would be difficult to speculate on the veracity of all the details of the case, but it is an excellent illustration of how the justice system prefers to grandstand on prosecutions rather than rehabilitate and reintegrate those who have been convicted. Although Madaio has a court-appointed attorney, he is hopeful that a more trusted family lawyer will be allowed to serve as co-counsel.
No News is Bad News: An item came across my desk about a controversy regarding a GAP Kids clothing line and the portrayal of Black people. An ad campaign featuring a performing troupe called Le PeTiT CiRqUe (more on them in a future post) included one image with a bigger girl resting her arm on a shorter Black girl. You can read a little about it here. With all the special interest groups involved in this issue, many people are getting on the bandwagon and making a lot of noise. Whatever the circumstances, I would like to humbly suggest that those sincerely interested in the cause of racial justice not waste their energy on something that will accomplish nothing while giving free publicity to a major clothing company. On the other hand, it is nice that Le PeTiT CiRqUe got a little press.
“Moral Welfare” on the Set: One of our readers, who is child modeling agent, has shared items of interest regarding the changing rules and conditions of child models and actors. For example, in the past, outtakes from films shot in the days before the internet would never see the light of day and if there was some inadvertent nudity, it was of little concern. But today, a lot of behind-the-scenes footage gets leaked and so the rules in Hollywood have become a lot stricter. An online article shares an interesting anecdote regarding the opening scene of Disney’s Pollyanna and informs readers that now, under California law, it is studio teachers who are responsible for the moral welfare of children in their charge.
To Top or Not to Top: As many readers of this site are aware, in many countries outside the United States, it is routine for undeveloped younger girls to swim in public without bikini tops. A mother shares an interesting story about her 7-year-old daughter’s recent trip to Spain. It offers a little insight about a child’s body image and her ability to adapt to different cultural norms. The editorial concludes with the mother seeking this advice: now that the girl is used to swimming without a top, how can she be persuaded to go back?
Auction News: A friend passed on this small item about Sotheby’s auctioning off a few Sally Mann photographs on May 19th. A lot of big-name photographers are featured and the Mann images are numbered 58–61. Speculation in art has continued to inflate prices.
Researching Ernest Nister has been a difficult pursuit as no business or personal archives are known. Additionally, as he appears to be of little interest today there are few researchers of Ernest Nister and the papers or text books they publish are difficult to acquire. What follows is a brief description of Nister and his publishing company that I was able to piece together from the few sources that are readily available.
Ernest Nister (1842–1906) was a publisher born in Darmstadt, Germany. Ernest spent his school days studying business. However what he did from then until 1877, I have been unable to determine. In 1877 Ernest acquired a small lithographic workshop in Nuremberg and set about modernising it. Most of the printing was done in chromolithography and the number of products the business produced included annuals, storybooks, toy books, poetry and religious stories, as well as calendars, greeting cards, embossed pictures and games. As these items are so ephemeral—calendars are normally disposed of at the end of each year—few examples exist today. However, I shall show some calendars and postcards I have found on the Internet.
Nister’s printing business also did work for other publishers like Castell, Farran, Griffith, Okeden and Routledge. Because of these contacts, Nister became a publisher in his own right in 1888 when he opened offices and design studios in London. Nister hired Robert Ellice Mack as director who was responsible for finding authors and illustrators as well as compiling and editing the books before sending them to Nuremburg for printing. Nister did very little of the creative work. Instead, he would organise and direct the workers, manage the business and supervise the printing process with the exception of wood engraving which was supervised by a co-worker named C. Priess. Distribution of the books in America was done by E.P. Dutton.
Ernest Nister is remembered most for his embossed, panoramic and movable books. Embossed books were an early speciality for Nister. From these embossed books Nister developed the pop-up book whereby the embossed figures were die-cut then mounted within a three dimensional framework. The figures were then connected to the opposing page, by paper or fabric guides, so that when the page is opened the figures rise from the page. Nister was not the first person to create pop-up books, however, he was the first to create automatic pop-up books. Prior to Nister’s invention, pop-up scenes had to be manually manoeuvred upright by the reader. Displayed below you will see two differing types of Nister’s pop-up book. The first two are three-dimensional scenes set within a frame that are connected to the opposing page. The third is frameless and is created by standing the book upright and lowering the page onto the table making the characters appear as though they are standing on a stage.
Another of Nister’s inventions is the dissolving picture which works like a venetian blind. The picture is divided into five parts and when the tab at the bottom of the picture is pulled another picture slides from underneath and covers the original.
The dissolving effect can also work with a sliding door type mechanism.
The third type of movable book Nister created was the revolving picture. The mechanism consisted of two disks that covered each other and were divided into six segments. Those segments in turn fit together in a star formation. When a tab in the frame was pulled, one disk slid over the other to reveal a new picture.
As you would have noticed from the image descriptions there is a problem with finding the identity of illustrators for Nister’s images. The illustrator is largely unknown as Nister did not consider it important to leave the signature in the picture so it was either cropped out during editing or colored over during printing. Nister also constantly reused images and even added or deleted features to the original images. The date is also almost always omitted and if it had not been for researchers who are willing to go through library catalogues and find the earliest release of the books, it would remain unknown.
Nister died in 1906 and left the publishing business to his son Ernest Nister Jr. At this time the business had about 600 employees and could produce prints using the three-color, photoengraving, wood engraving, heliogravure, collotype, copperplate, halftone engraving, blind embossing and chromolithography printing processes. The business would not last more than ten years. As World War I started and an export ban was placed on Germany the Ernest Nister Publishing Company was one of the many businesses that collapsed as a result.
There are many videos on YouTube showing examples of Ernest Nister Books.
If anyone wants to research further you will need this source list as they are hard to find and contain so many more details. I used many of these in putting together this article.
- Haining, Peter, Movable books: An illustrated history, London, New English Library, 1979.
- Krahe, Hildegard E., “The importance of being Ernest Nister,” Phaedrus, Vol. 13,1988, pp.73-90.
- Montanaro, Ann R., Pop-up and movable books: A bibliography, Metuchen, New Jersey, Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1993.
- Zipes, Jack, The Oxford encyclopedia of children’s literature, New York : Oxford University Press, 2006.
- A Concise History of Pop-up and Moveable Books
- Univesity of Florida Digital Collection
- Pop-up Lady: specializing in moveable paper