The Girls of Summer, Pt. 2

Well, I was planning to do an article on the Ana Torrent film El nido first, but I haven’t even got the film stills ready yet, so I will do it later this month.  Meanwhile, I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way, because I know some of you have been eagerly anticipating it.  So let’s get started, shall we?

The first two pieces are from a Russian photographer I’ve featured before, who went by the name Mastadont at whatever photography site I pulled these from.  The first piece is a reference to a character from Slavic mythology, a water nymph called a Rusalka.  But I especially like the second image.  It’s a lively piece, and one of the little girls almost seems to be dancing atop the rainbow that dissects the image.

Mastadont - In the Lake Swam Rusalka

Mastadont – In the Lake Swam Rusalka

Mastadont - (Title Unknown)

Mastadont – (Title Unknown)

Photodom: Mastodont

Now here’s a painting by Donald Zolan, who is known for producing highly popular if somewhat kitschy paintings of children.  Any one of dozens of his works could fit into this post, but I really like this one of a young girl stooping down to get a better look at a monarch caterpillar.  Zolan will eventually get an entire post devoted to his work, but for now we’ll have to settle for this one.  The artist himself passed away in 2009, but his art lives on and is as popular as ever.

Donald Zolan - Small Wonder

Donald Zolan – Small Wonder

The Zolan Company (official site)

This is a strange image.  The little girl is topless, which is odd considering the time and place the photo was taken: Coney Island, New York in the early ’90s.  Unlike in Europe or other parts of the world, little girls going topless at an American beach is highly unusual, to say the least.  Moreover, bucking the usual trend for these kinds of photos, this girl does not appear to be very happy.  She’s frowning, and her arms are crossed defensively.  Award-winning photographer Rineke Dijkstra is Dutch, but perhaps her subject here was not, and while Dijkstra clearly saw nothing out of the ordinary in having this girl pose topless, the girl herself seems less than thrilled at the prospect.  Then again, the little redhead could be upset about something entirely unrelated.  Who knows?  This subject is now an adult, and I’d be curious to learn what was actually going on in her head at the time this was taken.

Rineke Dijkstra - Coney Island, NY, USA, July 9, 1993

Rineke Dijkstra – Coney Island, NY, USA, July 9, 1993

Wikipedia: Rineke Dijkstra

This image has appeared on the blog before in one of the old Random Image of the Day posts, but I have eliminated that post and brought the image into this one.  I know nothing about the photographer.  This is another image I picked up from a photography site, probably Russian.  I am intrigued by the girl’s pose—she stares up at the sky with a smile, and seems to wave at someone there, perhaps a passing angel, her hand lambent in the sunlight.  I only wish the photo was slightly larger.

Tony Chiodo - Angelic

Tony Chiodo – Angelic

Frank Owen Salisbury’s work has appeared on this blog before as well.  The interesting thing about Salisbury is that he was a conservative hardcore Methodist and a serious portraitist who painted the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill and even John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) himself.  And yet, Salisbury also painted this beautiful piece featuring two nude young girls.  In fact, the girls were Salisbury’s own twin daughters, Monica and Sylvia.  What?!  Imagine, a man like Salisbury presenting his own preteen daughters to the world without a stitch!

Ah, but alas, how differently we have come to look upon the nude child since Salisbury’s time.  Today a religious conservative like Salisbury would likely be protesting such images rather than painting them.  One thing I’d like to point out here: although it’s subtle, if you look at the blond twin’s wrist, you can see she is wearing a very thin bracelet, an item that  ever so slightly anchors this image to modernity.  Finally, it is notable that the original version of this painting is currently housed at the National Trust Museum of Childhood, part of Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, England, which looks like an altogether fabulous place to visit if you’re ever in that part of England.

Frank Owen Salisbury - Wonders of the Sea (1912)

Frank Owen Salisbury – Wonders of the Sea (1912)

Wikipedia: Frank Owen Salisbury

British photographer and art film director Tacita Dean took the next shot that focuses on a couple of toddlers who have clearly been enjoying a dip in a pool or pond or some such.  Is it just me or does the little blond girl’s costume look to be crocheted or knitted?  Whatever it is, it’s an odd choice for swimwear. Perhaps these outfits were not intended as bathing costumes at all and the water frolicking was all rather impromptu.  This image has the warm, fuzzy feel of a snapshot from a family photo.  Or, it could be a subtle advertisement for Johnson’s Baby Lotion.

Tacita Dean - Baby Lotion (2000)

Tacita Dean – Baby Lotion (2000)

Tacita Dean (official site)

Wikipedia: Tacita Dean

The following piece was scanned from The Family of Children, a book I’ve drawn from before.  The book contains another image of this girl from the same shoot, a closeup (bust and head) portrait, but I think this one is much more interesting.  The girl looks to be preparing for a swim while a young couple (her parents?) make out on the ground behind her, completely oblivious to the girl’s presence.  This image may have been shot at the original Woodstock festival—it has the right feel. I’m sure it comes from the hippie era: late ’60s/early ’70s.  Because the source image was small, this is a little grainier than I’d prefer.  I used the Gaussian blur feature in Photoshop to eliminate the halftone, but I didn’t want to overdo it or too much detail would’ve been lost.  It’s a fine balancing act.

The photo was taken by Joan Liftin, who isn’t terribly well-represented on the web but should be.  She has, in the course of her career, worked for the likes of the International Center of Photography, Magnum Photos and UNICEF, and she has edited books on other photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Charles Harbutt and Andrea Stern.

Joan Liftin - (Title Unknown)

Joan Liftin – (Title Unknown)

This next piece is a digital photo-manipulation piece by DeviantArt user Kayceeus.  She works with stock photos and creates collages that she then manipulates until they resemble paintings.  This one is particularly good, and had I not known, I might easily have mistaken this for an actual photo-realistic painting.

Kayceeus - Summer Fun

Kayceeus – Summer Fun

DeviantArt: Kayceeus

These next two photos are by Helen Eleeva.  Because of the girl’s movement and the tilted angle in each, these images are dynamic.  In the first photo, the girl is running along the beach with her dog.  Caught mid-stride, she appears to float over the beach.  In the second photo, we see her with arms outstretched and hair fanned out.  Is she pretending to be a helicopter?  Note how the other (tiny) figures in the shot have been relegated to the far upper right-hand corner.  It’s an odd composition, to be sure, but it mostly works.

A lot of images by this artist can be found here.  The particular images shown here are on page 33 (as of 150925) and the girl appears in at least 5 other photographs. Her work also appears here, here and here.

Helen Eleeva - (Title Unknown) (1)

Helen Eleeva – (Title Unknown) (1)

Helen Eleeva - (Title Unknown) (2)

Helen Eleeva – (Title Unknown) (2)

Along the same lines is this color piece by Swedish photographer and designer Jonas Elmqvist.  Running with arms outstretched, the little girl is about to bolt past the frame of the image and leave it altogether.  There’s something inherently true to the experience of childhood here.  It reminds me of a beautiful quote by Michael Whitmore from his article Finders Keepers:

Children, like legends and rare books, are often on the verge of disappearing, and it is for those who have left the kingdom of childhood—that high-walled garden whose gate has always been left swinging in the background—to wonder where they’ve gone.

This image appears here on Flickr and the artist also has an album focusing on portraiture and another on the artist’s daughters Kajsa and Maja.

Jonas Elmqvist - Summer Feeling

Jonas Elmqvist – Summer Feeling

Another image borrowed from a Russian photography site.  The thing that’s most striking about this image to me is how, though the one little girl is clearly nude, most of the other children (all of whom appear to be boys) are dressed in rather clean and modern-looking clothes.  These kids aren’t counterculture types, I think; nudity is just accepted for young kids hanging out on a raft with their grandfather.  But both the little girl and the boy sitting up front (a brother?) are also wearing crucifix necklaces.  This is Russia after all—far different standards than in the US.

This image can be found here.  The photographer specializes in weddings and special events so most images found online were commissioned by her clients.

Galina Sergeyev - Grandfather Said . . .

Galina Sergeyeva – Grandfather Said . . .

This piece is by Turkish painter Ali Özhan Güneş, who often paints scenes from nude beaches.  Again, the interesting point here is the contrast between the two boys wearing swimsuits and the naked (except for sunglasses) little girl who is watching them.  The boys seem to be completely oblivious to the naked girl beside them, but in a year or so that will likely all change.

Ali Özhan Güneş - Happy Children (2012)

Ali Özhan Güneş – Happy Children (2012)

Ali Özhan Güneş (official site)

This is a fun image.  I’m not entirely sure what the girl is wearing as the splashing water obscures most of it, but it appears to be some sort of scouting or sporting outfit.  The latter makes more sense based on the title.  Spain won the FIFA World Cup in soccer in 2010, which would indicate this image dates from the same year.  I know nothing about the photographer here.

Anna Kamińska - Congratulations Spain

Anna Kamińska – Congratulations Spain

Canadian photographer Valerie Rosen made a name for herself documenting life in the Near East, but she also works as a portrait and events photographer.  I really love the pose this little girl is in.  She looks like she’s about to tumble backwards, right onto her behind.  Joy indeed.

Valerie Rosen - Joy

Valerie Rosen – Joy

Flickr: Valerie Rosen

Tom Chambers is my favorite artist in this post.  As a photographer, he likes to create images that hover at the edge of surreality.  If you visit no other sites linked in this article, don’t miss this one.  There are plenty of little girls in his work, including a whole series from which this next image is taken.  The concept and symbolism here are compelling for reasons that are difficult to quantify, but I’ll do my best.  First there’s the contrast between the dark, massive, earthy beast and the airy, light and graceful girl who rides it, even as she mimics the sea bird flying nearby.  The bird itself hovers over the horse’s head, as if representing the true nature of the horse, who may want to fly too.  Thus we have a kind of spiritual triangle here: horse, girl and bird, all connected by the water and air around them and seeking the next level up from their usual conditions.  The horse is much lighter in the water, the girl is higher and freer on the back of the horse, and the bird is the most liberated of them all.  The horse is a Marwari, which come from India, a nation whose people are known for their spiritual connection to the elements.

Tom Chambers - Marwari Stallion #1 (2009)

Tom Chambers – Marwari Stallion #1 (2009)

Tom Chambers Photography (official site)

Carl Wilhelmson was a Swedish painter whose best work was produced during the first quarter of the 20th century.  He was a student of Carl Larsson, and his work bears much resemblance to Larsson’s, but he also studied under Bruno Liljefors, whom he might’ve inherited his love of outdoor scenes from.  He didn’t paint many nudes, but one of the few he did paint is our next image.  The girl’s pose feels slightly stiff and forced, and she is a tad too centered, but the light flooding the scene, the muted colors and the paleness of the medium itself tend to counteract any overly formal aspects of the piece.

Carl Wilhelmson - Sommar i skären (1915)

Carl Wilhelmson – Sommar i skären (1915)

Wikipedia: Carl Wilhelmson (Site is in Swedish)

Last but not least . . . two photos from Mikael Anderrson.  The close bond these children have is obvious, and I could look at dozens more photos featuring the two.  I wonder where they are now?

This artist can a huge account with NordicPhotos (over 330 pages) and these photos may appear there.  He has another account here and some of the images from this series were probably used to promote his book Barnmark (2011).

Mikael Andersson - A Boy and a Girl Playing in the Water

Mikael Andersson – A Boy and a Girl Playing in the Water

Mikael Andersson - A Girl and a Boy Embracing at a Lakeside

Mikael Andersson – A Girl and a Boy Embracing at a Lakeside

The Girls of Summer, Pt. 1

Well, it’s high summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means young girls are out playing in the water, on the beach, or in the yard.  In some parts of the world they are even doing so (gasp!) partially or fully nude.  Others are wearing swimsuits or thin summer outfits.  The beauty and innocence of a child frolicking under a blazing summer sun, free of guilt and bodily shame, is a sight we could all use more of, frankly.  And so, in honor of those children who are out there enjoying the rays this summer, here is the first in a three-part series featuring little girls doing precisely that, all perfectly captured by an assortment of painters and photographers from around the world.  So look at these images and smile, because someday, if the morality thugs and environment polluters continue to have their way, it may be a rare thing to behold.

The first image is in honor of the holiday Americans just celebrated, the Fourth of July.  I don’t recall where I obtained this image, and a search of the artist’s name reveals nothing.  It may have been mislabeled at the site I got it from; that kind of thing happens a lot on the internet, unfortunately.  I also wish it was a wee bit larger, but this will have to suffice.  I intended to post this on the Fourth but didn’t get it out in time.

Carol Lauren - (Title Unknown)

Carol Lauren – (Title Unknown)

The next image is from Indian journalist and photographer Sebin Abraham Jacob, who goes by Sebinaj on DeviantArt.  It’s called Rejoice, and I can’t imagine a better title.  I love the texture of the stone walkway behind the girl and how nicely it contrasts with her softness.  I also love her fancy shoes, which seem almost out of place and slightly too large for her feet.

Sebinaj - Rejoice

Sebin Abraham Jacob – Rejoice

DeviantArt: Sebinaj

Karl Jóhann Jónsson is an Icelandic painter, primarily of portraits.  I really like the unique perspective on this little girl, Emilia.  There are other paintings of the same girl, whom I presume is his daughter, on his site, so take a look around.

Karl Jóhann Jónsson - Emilía í sundi

Karl Jóhann Jónsson – Emilía í sundi

Karl Jóhann: Portrett og fleira (official site)

These next two pieces are actually English travel posters from early to mid-20th century.  The first is for Burnam-on-Sea, a coastal town in Somerset, England.  At first, all I was able to glean from the web on the artist was that his last name is Durmon.  It looks to be from about the 1940s.  If anyone else can provide more information here, it will be greatly appreciated.  Although there is no text provided, the second image is a poster for another English coastal town, Clacton-on-Sea, dating from 1953, with art by Mervyn Scarf.  I’ve included these for the express reason that they both demonstrate that it wasn’t that long ago when the English followed the general European trend for little girls’ bathing costumes.  As you can see in both examples, the little girls are topless.  There are other examples out there showing the same, but these two should suffice.

Durmon - Burnham-on-Sea (poster)

Alan Durman – Burnham-on-Sea (poster)

Alan Durman (1905-1963) did a number of idyllic pieces that appeared on posters and examples are sold at auction from time to time.

Mervyn Scarf - Clacton-on-Sea (poster) (1953)

Mervyn Scarf – Clacton-on-Sea (poster) (1953)

This next photograph is by Sally Mann.  Although I have a couple of Mann’s books, this image was actually taken from a small compilation volume I have called Love and Desire.  That is, of course, Mann’s daughter Jessie striking the pose on what appears to be a boogie board of some sort.  I have never seen this image in any other source, so I was quite happy to discover the book had a Mann photo in it.

Sally Mann - Venus Ignored (1992)

Sally Mann – Venus Ignored (1992)

Sally Mann (official site)

This image is by the painter Rafael Concilio and dates from 2001.  That’s really all I can tell you.

A few of this artist’s paintings can be found here.

Rafael Concilio - A Toy Ship (2001)

Rafael Concilio – A Toy Ship (2001)

Here is a photograph by Oleg Itkin.  I do not recall where I pulled this from, probably a Russian photography site.  Such sites were a goldmine of beautiful images of children back in the early ’00s, and I discovered a lot of fantastic new photographers this way.  This piece reminds me a lot of the work of Jock Sturges in its simplicity.

Oleg Itkin - Vintage

Oleg Itkin – Vintage

And speaking of Russian photographers, one of the best is Dolphine (a.k.a. d’elf), who mostly shoots images of little girls (and occasionally little boys) doing gymnastics.  If you are interested in child gymnastics, you will find more images than you could ever want at Dolphine’s website.  Be sure to check the links at the bottom of her page for more beautiful work.  Here are two pieces from Dolphine.

Dolphine - Small Pantheon

Dolphine – Small Pantheon

Dolphine - Summer 2

Dolphine – Summer 2

d’elf (official site)

This next one is somewhat different from the theme of this post, but I quite like it and wanted to include it anyway.  It is a painting by Jimmy Lawlor called, appropriately enough, The Height of Summer.  Lawlor has several lovely surrealist/fantasy paintings featuring children, so don’t forget to peruse his site!

Jimmy Lawlor - The Height of Summer

Jimmy Lawlor – The Height of Summer

Jimmy Lawlor (official site)

Wai Ming is an Asian painter of some renown, noted for his beautiful and sensitive portraits of children, especially girls.  Here is a perfect example.

Wai Ming - The Lovely Summer

Wai Ming – The Lovely Summer

Wai Ming (official site)

Nikolai Filippov is yet another Russian photographer who tends to focus his camera on the young girl, though his specialty is ballet.  This image of a nude boy and girl walking down the beach is all kinds of charming.

There is a large collection (23 pages worth) of his work here.  However, the nude images have a warning and one would presumably need to establish an account to view those.  A number of images can be found here as well along with some biographical information.

Nikolai Filippov - Game Beside the Sea II (1972)

Nikolai Filippov – Game Beside the Sea II (1972)

And now we move on to Russian painters.  Anna Lebedevna (not to be confused with Anna Ostroumova-Lebedevna) is a contemporary academic painter, and that’s about all I know of her.  She doesn’t seem to have much of a presence online, unfortunately.

Anna Lebedeva - Summer (1999)

Anna Lebedeva – Summer (1999)

Svitlana Galdetska is a contemporary Ukrainian painter who specializes in paintings of her own daughter.  This image is one of several lovely ‘girl on beach’ images from her series Space Around Me.

Svitlana Galdetska - My Summer

Svitlana Galdetska – My Summer

Svitlana Galdetska (official site)

Contemporary photographer Frank H. Jump mostly focuses on vintage and decaying signs and murals, but here he trains his camera on an adorable little girl at the beach.

Frank H. Jump - Girl on Beach, Ft. Tilden, Queens (2002)

Frank H. Jump – Girl on Beach, Ft. Tilden, Queens (2002)

Fading Ad Campaign (official site)

I don’t know the photographer of this next image, but it is a page taken from the magazine Marie Claire Italia.  I do know that the adult woman in the image is French actress and model Laetitia Casta.

(Photographer Unknown) - Marie Claire Italia, June, 1995

(Photographer Unknown) – Marie Claire Italia, June, 1995

Stanley Goldstein is a modern painter with a photo-realistic style.  There are some beach and other outdoor images at his site that could’ve easily fit here, but I preferred this painting of children frolicking in a water fountain.

Stanley Goldstein - Fountain I (2008)

Stanley Goldstein – Fountain I (2008)

Stanley Goldstein (official site)

Here’s an unusual photo by Luiz Cavalcante, whose work I have featured here before.  This little girl looks like she’s having a blast, doesn’t she?

Luiz Cavalcante - Little Jumping Girl

Luiz Cavalcante – Little Jumping Girl

Our final piece is by Shannon Richardson.  I’ve posted this once before, but I want to post it again.  Ah, what was better when you were a kid than playing outside while eating ice cream, eh?

Shannon Richardson - Grass Skirts

Shannon Richardson – Grass Skirts

That’s it for this batch.  Stay cool out there, people.

Shannon Richardson (official site)

Alice: A Personal View

It was my intent after publishing the Graham Ovenden post to then move on to his other relevant work. However, while considering his book, Illustrators of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” (1972), I was urged to cover a much more comprehensive volume recently published, Illustrating Alice: An international selection of illustrated editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass published by Artists’ Choice Editions in 2013.

I wanted to call this post ‘The Definitive Alice’ but the book itself admonishes its readers from regarding it that way. It is a fair argument because, after all, it only covers illustration despite including a lot of discussion about the stories and their interpretation. And instead of trying to be thorough in covering all views, we get a wonderful spectrum of personal anecdotes and revelations from artists, collectors and other lovers of Alice lore including the more prominent members of Lewis Carroll societies around the world.

Given that a definitive book on Lewis Carroll’s two stories, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871), would require a multi-volume encyclopedia, Illustrating Alice does remarkably well, bringing out many imaginative key points. The Alice stories (and their ethnic adaptations) have been published in over 100 languages and, in proportion to total word count, are more often quoted in published works than the plays of Shakespeare. Illustrating Alice has an interesting organization. First, some discussion of Alice in different countries is offered, then numerous living illustrators were asked to discuss their experiences and views. There is also some discussion of film adaptations. For serious Alice lovers, this book is an important reference and I offer a more detailed outline of the contents of the book at the end of this post.

With respect to offering fresh interpretations of Alice, it should be recognized how challenging it has been to see past Sir John Tenniel’s iconic illustrations in the original books and to fruitfully psychoanalyze Carroll’s original intent.

Lewis Carroll - Alice's Adventures Under Ground (1864)

Lewis Carroll – Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (1864)

Sir John Tenniel - Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871)

Sir John Tenniel – Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871)

Due to copyright rules, new versions of Wonderland could not be produced by other publishers until 1907 (and Looking-Glass until 1946). In the U.K. there were already 30 new editions by the end of 1908. Millicent Sowerby had the distinction of being the first to have her illustrations published. Publishers would gradually compete to produce the most opulent editions. W.H. Walker was the first to include scenes not given in the original Tenniel and Harry Rountree had the record for the most color images published, 92. Two of the most popular editions were by Raphael Tuck: one based on early Mabel Lucie Attwell work in 1910 and then a more innovative approach in 1921 based on the work of A.L. Bowley giving us the first examples of pop-ups and a panorama scene with slots to place each of the supplied cut-out characters.

Arthur Rackham - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1907)

Arthur Rackham – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1907)

During World War II, there was a dearth of publishing because of paper rationing. One notable exception was the work of Mervyn Peake. He produced illustrations for both Alice books which were first published in Sweden in 1946, then in the U.K. in 1954. His images, considered among the best by many experts, were modeled after a neighbor girl named Caroline Lucas who, he believed, had just the right qualities. The high regard for his work is exemplified by a quote from Graham Greene, “You are the first person who has been able to illustrate the book since Tenniel.” This is even more remarkable when one considers that Greene was generally opposed to the idea of illustrating great literature at all. The work has since appeared in many editions while the original art deteriorated from neglect.

Libanus Press was later commissioned by Bloomsbury Publishing to take up the challenge of scanning the original drawings and putting in about 240 hours of computer work to restore them. The results were published in 2001 and shortly thereafter Libanus published them with the title Peake’s Alice in actual size each accompanied by an appropriate quote. One of the first artists to break through the Tenniel paradigm was Ralph Steadman in 1967, with a freer and highly political take on the story. In the 1970s, Alice became a kind of poster child for the Ruralists, symbolizing an appeal to nature. The most notable of those were by Peter Blake and Graham Ovenden—the Ovenden works being bound into a volume with only 10 copies in existence. This incredible range of production is indicative of the fact that illustration seems to be the last art form that can be produced without need of government grants or powerful patronage.

Mervyn Peake - Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1946)

Mervyn Peake – Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1946)

In the early days in France only the images of Tenniel and Arthur Rackham were seen. In 1930, the first native illustrator, Marie Laurencin, was published in a limited edition (790) with six colored lithographs. As Alice was assimilated into other cultures, her character would change. Henry Morin (1935) drew an Alice who seemed ill at ease while André Pécoud (1935) portrayed a more mischievous Alice who took delight in her adventures. Nicole Claveloux’s (1974) work is considered a watershed of modern French illustration offering a non-conformist Alice and a special affinity for the animal characters in the story. Her plate with the flamingos became so iconic that it was the basis of a postage stamp in Czechoslovakia. Jean-Claude Silbermann (2002) gives a highly surreal interpretation while Pat Andrea (2006), a noted artist of erotic women, necessarily makes Alice a young woman.

Marie Laurencin - Alice in Wonderland (1930)

Marie Laurencin – Alice in Wonderland (1930)

The first Alice stories in Italy were adapted by Teodorico Pietrocòla-Rossetti—nephew of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and a friend of Carroll—in 1872. This edition was not well-received. The first book featuring an Italian illustrator, Riccardo Salvadori, came out in 1913. Because there was not an established culture of children’s literature in Italy yet, Salvadori’s work, imitating that of Arthur Rackham, meant that this genre was strongly influenced by the Anglo-Saxon imagination. In 1938, under fascism, Carroll’s Alice books were banned. Any publisher wishing to publish had to follow certain guidelines. Perhaps the most famous version was illustrated by Enrico Mercatali (1938) who introduced an older dark-haired girl consistent with the appearance of local girls. In the 1950s, the blond Alice reappeared, partly as a backlash to fascist rules and partly because of the popularity of Disney’s animated film in 1951. In the 1970s, Gianni Celati (1978) used Alice as a symbol of counter-culture and Antonio D’Agostini (c1975) gave a psychedelic interpretation which fits well with Carroll’s fantastical imagery.

Enrico Mercatali - (Exact title unknown) (1938)

Enrico Mercatali – (Exact title unknown) (1938)

During the publishing of the Alice stories, the United States was generally regarded as an ugly stepchild of Britain and something of a rogue nation when it came to respecting copyright. A print run regarded as unsatisfactory by Carroll was sent to the U.S. in 1865. At least half a dozen companies sold pirated editions between 1892 and 1907 before the official expiration of copyright. They all used the Tenniel illustrations but would hire an illustrator for the cover and maybe a frontispiece. Interestingly, the Thomas Crowell edition in 1893 included the first instance of an Alice in a blue frock which became established as her signature color; all images and merchandise approved by Carroll had required the girl to be in a corn-yellow dress. A few publishers did use original work by American illustrators. Blanche McManus was distinguished as the first in 1899 for her husband’s company and Peter Newell in 1901, whose characters display an amusing array of facial expressions and interactions. M.L. Kirk’s rendition in 1904 is somewhat conventional but uses the correct color for Alice’s dress.

After the copyright expired, the floodgates opened and a number of notable American illustrators had their work published including Bessie Pease Gutmann (1907), a single illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith (1923) and Willy Pogány (1929). Walt Disney was obsessed with the story of Alice for a long time, experimenting with various treatments and designs until finally producing the somewhat unsatisfactory film in 1951. The film’s popularity had a stifling effect on innovation in the following decades. David Hall’s paintings and drawings for Disney in the 1930s did finally see the light of day in 1986 and Mary Blair’s concept art for the original film was the basis for a 2008 book.

Perhaps the first satisfactory book after this stagnant period was published in 1982, illustrated by Barry Moser and intended for adult readers. He may have been a bit gun shy of portraying the now iconic Alice and she appears only in the first and last pages as though the reader were observing things from her point of view. A number of prolific and imaginative artists have worked on Alice since then and are really too numerous to name here. An interesting historical note is that the first comic book, a distinctly American art form, was published in 1929 by George Delacorte whose fortune was later used to fund the statue in Central Park. To date, the only edition to be illustrated by a Canadian, George Walker, was produced in 1988 and may also have the distinction of being the last to be set by hand.

Bessie Pease Gutmann - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1907)

Bessie Pease Gutmann – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1907)

Camille Rose Garcia - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (2010)

Camille Rose Garcia – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (2010)

U.S. fans and collectors of Lewis Carroll paraphernalia contributed substantially to the scholarship and preservation of the author’s work. Lessing J. Rosenwald donated a handwritten and self-illustrated manuscript of Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures under Ground to the Library of the British Museum in 1948 which can now be viewed in its entirety online.  A copy of ‘The Wasp in a Wig’, a lost chapter to Looking-Glass, was discovered and published in 1972 and Morton Cohen’s biographical research on Carroll is considered to be definitive.

Alice was first introduced to Brazil by Monterio Lobato in the early 1930s using original illustrators (Tenniel and Bowley). He started with an illustration of a fantasy world including Wonderland, Neverland etc. and one from his own stories which translates as “Yellow Woodpecker Ranch”. A number of artists have used collages made from everyday materials to add cultural texture to their work. An example is Helena de Barros (Helenbar) who sewed her own dress and incorporated herself in her images.

Helenbar - A Quadrilha da Lagosta (c2003)

Helenbar – A Quadrilha da Lagosta (c2003)

The popularity of Alice in Japan cannot be understated. In fact, the Alice books and associated merchandise are now so popular that it could be said to be an industry in and of itself. The first Japanese illustrator was Shotaro Kawabata (1908). Kawabata imitated Tenniel somewhat but substituted Japanese everyday articles for Europeans ones. Often these treatments were introduced in magazine form rather than stand-alone books. The benefit seems to be that new artists, both writers and illustrators, have an easier way to become established and recognized.

Tsubakibana “Chinka” Yoshimura (1911) was probably the first to illustrate Alice using strictly Japanese patterns, techniques and composition principles. The early portrayal of Alice had a curious character. Because, in Japanese culture, girls have no real transition from childhood to adulthood, girls were portrayed as very young or very mature. Girl children were expected to act very dependent until a certain age and then suddenly expected to be responsible. The idea of a transitional coming-of-age girl was new and explored seriously only in post-war interpretations. Takashi Saida (1925) was perhaps the first to create a middle class Alice with the right balance of sophistication and uncertainty seen in the English versions. In the 1930s, the rising tide of nationalism and militarism influenced the expression in children’s books and there was a decline in sweet and innocent portrayals until after the war when all constraints on style and interpretation were obliterated. The first expression of Alice as a nymphet was in 1974 by Kuniyoshi Kaneko and many have carried on this theme, exploring Alice’s emerging sexuality.

Takashi Saida - ふしぎなお庭:まりちゃんの夢の国旅行 (1925)

Takashi Saida – ふしぎなお庭:まりちゃんの夢の国旅行 (1925)

Mainland China had a strange ordinance in 1930 which banned Alice on the silly notion that because the animals talked, it put them on the same level as human beings. Also mentioned in the text is the mystery of a strange edition produced in a short run in Inner Mongolia that seems to defy Chinese convention. Writers and artists are not usually credited in Chinese Communist publications. However, this adaptation not only gives this Taiwanese illustrator credit, but seems to be observing a more international form of copyright law.

Shi Huimin - 爱丽丝梦遊奇境 (c2000)

Shi Huimin – 爱丽丝梦遊奇境 (c2000)

In 1879, the first translation of Alice into Russian appeared featuring the art of Tenniel. There was a great deal of enthusiasm for this new literature and a number of editions were produced before the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Under Soviet domination and particularly under Stalin, artists were regarded as engineers of utopian society rather than challengers of societal norms. Carroll’s works were banned outright simply because they emphasized fantasy and nonsense rather than serving a moral purpose—expressing Socialist Realism. Artistic institutions were integrated as government unions so no rogue artist could ever hope to get a commission or be published without state sanction. The principles of Soviet Communism continued to have a hold on the artistic process even after Stalin’s death.

There seemed always to be an attempt to bring a kind of order to chaos, either literally as in Aleksandr Dodon’s (2001) framing of the text with his illustrations or in some metaphorical way, making Alice the arbiter of morality in Wonderland and the Looking-Glass worlds. The fact that both stories take place in a template of game playing (cards and chess) gave Russian artists the comfort of structure and the application of rules. Julia Gukova’s illustrations break through this convention by making Alice more an integral part of Wonderland, undermining her ability to pass judgment on these dream worlds. The Russian truism that there is no absolute truth in narrative is perhaps the unifying theme of work in the region.

V.S. Alfeevsky - Алисa в Стране Чудес (1958)

V.S. Alfeevsky – Алисa в Стране Чудес (1958)

Aleksandr Dodon - Приключения Алисы в Стране Чудес (2001)

Aleksandr Dodon – Приключения Алисы в Стране Чудес (2001)

The first translation of Wonderland into Polish was in 1910 which included images by Tenniel mixed with an anonymous artist. The effect was confusing since the artist made no effort to match Tenniel’s design or style. It had only one edition and was quickly forgotten. Two later translations/illustrations that did have a lasting impact were by Kamil Mackiewicz (1927) and Olga Siemaszko (1955). As a caricaturist, Mackiewicz’s illustrations predictably exaggerated distinguishing traits of its characters.

A 1955 version was written by Antoni Marianowicz adhering to Communist cultural policy; any reference to class distinctions had to be toned down or reinterpreted. The particular genius of this work is that the English cultural references and poems were replaced outright by Polish ones that readers could relate to. And since Marianowicz was a humorist, this version was certainly more humorous than the original. Siemaszko also illustrated a 1969 version and there is a noticeable refinement in her technique. Most later Polish editions used mostly foreign illustrators and so there appears to be no distinctive Polish style. Only after the fall of Communism did native artists start to come to the fore. Ironically, some of the most recent editions again make use of the Tenniel drawings and so the younger generation is likely to have the same visual associations with the Alice books as their grandparents.

Olga Siemaszko - Alicja w Krainie Czarów (1955)

Olga Siemaszko – Alicja w Krainie Czarów (1955)

After discussing illustrations, the book covers film treatments of Alice. The most interesting is an essay by Jan Švankmajer who describes his relationship to Alice and how, in combination with his own childhood, it inspired the production of an independent film. His first foray into Carroll’s world was a 1971 film based on the poem Jabberwocky. He describes it as an imaginative history of his childhood up to the point when he rebelled against his father. The film opens with a child’s voice (his own daughter, Veronika, then aged 9 in the Czech version) quoting from Looking-Glass. Because the censors saw the film as containing political allegories, it was banned in Czecholslovakia and he made an English version in 1973 which traveled the globe. Only in 1989, was the original film finally seen in his home country.

Another film, inspired somewhat by Alice, was Down in the Cellar (Do pivnice, 1983) about a girl sent to the cellar to fetch potatoes and what happens to her there. Although the film was completed, it did not see the light of day for a number of years due again to censorship. Švankmajer emphasizes the importance of the dream imagery in our human development, a trait that has been long neglected because it served “no moral purpose”.

Finally, he decided to attempt Alice (Něco z Alenky ,1988). The filmmaker wanted to emphasize dream imagery but reminds us that dreams are also filled with familiar objects. All the voices, appropriately altered, would be done by the same child actress consistent with the theory that we are all the characters in our dreams. The idea is that Alice is the only live person in the film and there are no intrusions of adults in voice or body. The other characters were constructed from everyday objects from Alice’s world. The Czech studios took no interest in his work, so he got financing from foreign companies and enlisted the support of art institutions to give his work credibility. The filming was done using old discarded cameras and editing equipment and in 1986, the first Czech independent film saw the light of day. Then in 2006, a Japanese publisher asked him to illustrate both Alice books and he leapt at the chance.

“Lewis Carroll’s Alice is one of the basic books of this civilization, one of those we should take with us to a desert island, just in order to survive.” –Jan Švankmajer (2011, translated by David Short)

Jan Švankmajer - Alice (1988)

Jan Švankmajer – Alice (1988)

Another essay discusses how Alice lends itself so well to animation. Considering the fantastical nature of the stories, it seems that only this medium would have any hope of effectively portraying these magical worlds. Kamilla Elliott, in her book Rethinking the Novel/Film Debate (2003), has identified over 50 film and television adaptations. As mentioned before, Walt Disney was obsessed with producing Alice very early on and in the 1920s, he experimented with a combination of live action and animation for Alice in Cartoonland. The 1951 film distinguishes itself by featuring an actual child’s voice—that of Kathryn Beaumont who also did Wendy in Peter Pan—as opposed to young women used in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.

A number of living artists shared their experiences illustrating Alice and the philosophy behind their approach. Michael Foreman, for example, noticed how few illustrators tried to make Alice look like the original Alice (Liddell). He also made a deliberate effort to distinguish reality (sepia) from dream (color) and insists that the real background for Wonderland must be his native Cornwall. Barry Moser muses how the story is really about loneliness because of how often the words “alone” and “lonely” appear in the text. John Vernon Lord is a stickler and points out that in the actual text, “Mad” is not applied to any particular character but rather all characters in general. Over the years, we have inherited certain assumptions because of past illustrators: the Hatter is mad, the Hatter wears a hat with a price tag on it and that, at the Mad Tea Party, things other than tea are served. Tatiana Ianovskaia observes a lightly etched eroticism implied by the various metaphors of two things being one: most notably, how playing cards are a kind of marriage of two bodies sharing one space. The other artists featured were John Bradley, Chiara Carrer, Emma Chichester Clark, Gavin O’Keefe, DeLoss McGraw, Helen Oxenbury, Ralph Steadman and Justin Todd.

Tatiana Ianovskaia - Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (2005)

Tatiana Ianovskaia – Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (2005)

A short afterword, written by Graham Ovenden, comments on the modern estrangement between adults and children and that we are often deprived of the full potential of illustrators’ talent and imagination because of economic considerations.

Some of the contributors have observed some developments in the evolution of children’s books. First of all, they feel that there is a lack of charming little details. There is an assumption that children’s books should have simple illustrations. There also seems to be no adult market for illustrated books except in France and Russia. And one final observation is that with the onset of the digital age, Illustrating Alice may distinguish itself as the last time we see this kind of compilation in hard copy.

This post is quite timely as this year is the sesquicentennial anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Illustrating Alice was published in a run of 500 for the Standard edition (68 for the Special edition which comes with signed prints) and can be purchased through the Inky Parrot Press. This publisher also sells other Alice volumes including a version where each illustration is from a different artist. For those wanting a more comprehensive analysis of the Alice texts and history should read one the editions referred to as The Annotated Alice.

Illustrating Alice summary of contents:

  • Foreword by Marina Vaizey
  • Alice in different countries: Brazil by Adriana Peliano, China by Richard Newnham, England, 1865–1939 by Selwyn Goodacre, England, 1940 to today by Dennis Hall, France by Michèle Noret, Italy by Caterina Morelli, Japan by Mikiko Chimori, Poland by Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska, Russia by Ella Parry-Davies, United States and Canada by Mark Burnstein
  • Alice in Film: ‘Alice’ by Jan Švankmajer, ‘Animating Alice’ by Karen Lury
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (artists credited above)
  • Alice Through the Looking-Glass (collected illustrations only, organized by chapter
  • Alice: as through a Glass Darkly (afterword) by Graham Ovenden
  • Alphabetical Checklist of English Language Editions from the lists compiled by Selwyn Goodacre and Edward Wakeling
  • Index of Artists of non-English Language Editions and individual paintings

The Short Life and Long Afterlife of Penelope Boothby (1785–1791)

Penelope Boothby was the daughter (and only child) of Sir Brooke Boothby (1743–1824), seventh Baronet (sixth, says Wikipedia) and of his wife Susanna (1755–1822). For her biography and cultural afterlife, I follow mainly Rosemary Mitchell’s article in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Penelope was born at Lichfield, Staffordshire (UK) on 11 April 1785. Her education was probably influenced by the theories of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose works her father translated into English. In July 1788, her portrait was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. According to Rosemary Mitchell, “Allegedly a warm relationship developed between the artist and the sitter, who disappeared from her home one day and was found at Reynolds’s house.” Her oversized bonnet earned the painting the epithet of the “Mob-Cap”. I show the scan given in the article by Roy Flukinger in Cultural Compass:

Joshua Reynolds – Penelope Boothby (1788)

Joshua Reynolds – Penelope Boothby (1788)

Penelope died on 13 March 1791 (on the 19th, says Wikipedia) at Ashbourne Hall, the family estate in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, after an illness of about a month. She was buried on the 20th at St. Oswald’s Church in Ashbourne. Mitchell says: “according to local legend her coffin was carried by six little girls, accompanied by six little boys holding umbrellas over them to keep off the rain. Her parents’ grief was life-long and devastating, and appears to have resulted in the collapse of their marriage.

Boothby devoted several years to paying a posthumous tribute to his beloved daughter. He “commissioned the artist Henry Fuseli to memorialize his daughter in a painting entitled The Apotheosis of Penelope Boothby (1792).

Henry Fuseli -The Apotheosis of Penelope Boothby (1792)

Henry Fuseli – The Apotheosis of Penelope Boothby (1792)

Mitchell notes: “With its strong resemblance to an altarpiece, Fuseli’s work depicts a winged and elegantly clad angel sweeping down from heaven to receive an elongated Penelope, while a figure representing the daystar indicates the way upwards. On the ground, an urn and an oversized butterfly or moth serve to symbolize death, the fleeting character of human life, and the resurrection of the dead.

And that was not all: “A monument to Penelope was commissioned in 1793 from the prominent sculptor Thomas Banks. Made of Carrara marble, it depicted the little girl apparently sleeping, and carried inscriptions in English, Italian, Latin, and French, culled from the Bible, Catullus, Petrarch, and (unsurprisingly) Rousseau.” This monument lies in St. Oswald’s Church, Ashbourne.

Here is the photograph taken in 2009 by Pasquale Apone for Panoramio:

Thomas Banks - monument to Penelope Boothby (1793) (1)

Thomas Banks – monument to Penelope Boothby (1793) (1)

In the following photograph from Wikimedia Commons, one sees in the background the Memorial to John and Anne Bradbourne:

Thomas Banks - monument to Penelope Boothby (1793) (2)

Thomas Banks – monument to Penelope Boothby (1793) (2)

Here is a close-up 2006 photograph by user ‘JR P UGArdener’ on Flickr:

Thomas Banks - monument to Penelope Boothby (1793) (3)

Thomas Banks – monument to Penelope Boothby (1793) (3)

Two old-fashioned argentic black & white photographs by F. H. Crossley are available on the website of the The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, see references B47/2057 and B47/3058.

In 1796, Brooke Boothby published a collection of sonnets expressing his grief: Sorrows. Sacred to the Memory of Penelope. According to Mitchell, some reviews were “measured but sympathetic”, but another stressed the “sameness and insipidity of sound” of the sonnets. Indeed, eight of these poems are reproduced on Sonnet Central, and I find them moving, but far from exceptional.

Sir Brooke Boothby lived in an extravagant way and finally became ruined. Ashbourne Hall was leased in 1814, then Boothby settled in Boulogne in 1815 and died there in 1824.

As says Mitchell: “Penelope Boothby’s cultural afterlife did not end with her father’s poetical tribute.” Several artists emulated Penelope’s portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds. I show two 19th century mezzotint prints downloaded from the National Portrait Gallery (references NPG D21649 and NPG D31993, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0):

James Scott, after Joshua Reynolds - Penelope Boothby (1850-1880)

James Scott, after Joshua Reynolds – Penelope Boothby (1850-1880)

Samuel Cousins, after Joshua Reynolds - Penelope Boothby (1874)

Samuel Cousins, after Joshua Reynolds – Penelope Boothby (1874)

Then “Reynolds’s portrait served as the inspiration for John Everett Millais’s Cherry Ripe (1879), which was a portrait of Edie Ramage, who had attended a fancy-dress ball in that year dressed as Penelope.” I show here the reproduction given in Pip’s article Cherry Ripe! Pt. 1:

John Everett Millais – Cherry Ripe (1879)

John Everett Millais – Cherry Ripe (1879)

Mitchell continues: “Three years earlier the photographer and writer Lewis Carroll had taken two pictures of his favourite model, Xie (Alexandria) Kitchin, dressed as Penelope Boothby—one in which she is sitting down and one with her standing against a minimalist background.” I reproduce these two photographs from the article by Roy Flukinger in Cultural Compass; as one sees, Xie wears the same mittens and “Mob-Cap” as Penelope in Reynolds’s painting:

Charles L. Dodgson - Xie Kitchin as Penelope Boothby, seated (1875-1876)

Charles L. Dodgson – Xie Kitchin as Penelope Boothby, seated (1875-1876)

Charles L. Dodgson - Xie Kitchin as Penelope Boothby, standing (1875-1876)

Charles L. Dodgson – Xie Kitchin as Penelope Boothby, standing (1875-1876)

Rosemary Mitchell concludes:

“The parental and artistic response in the 1790s to Penelope Boothby’s untimely death reveals the impact of Romantic ideas on constructions of childhood as a period separate from adulthood, and blessed with innocence and openness to natural and spiritual truths. It also illustrates the effect of Romanticism on perceptions of death, as the memorials to Penelope reflect an increasingly individualized and partially secularized response to the experience of loss. The later Victorian appropriation of Reynolds’s image of the living Penelope reveals both the intensification of the cult of childhood in the nineteenth century and a nostalgia for the apparently simple and rural world of pre-industrial Georgian England.”

References:

  • Rosemary Mitchell: ‘Boothby, Penelope (1785–1791)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, May 2010; online edition, Jan 2011. (The online version is available only to registered users or subscribing institutions.)
  • Roy Flukinger: ‘For his most famous child portrait, Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) drew inspiration from an eighteenth-century painting’, Cultural Compass, The Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.

Update: a new transcription of three other sonnets from Boothby’s Sorrows.

Album Cover Art – Spring 2015 Edition

It’s time to post some girl-related album art again, and let’s start with a couple from Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish.  These are both single covers, and the first is a beautifully illustrated image for a fantastic but melancholy song called Eva (originally from the album Dark Passion Play) about a mistreated little girl who runs away from home.  In the image, we can see the girl is wearing a period costume from late 19th or early 20th century.  She stands on her front lawn at night, carrying only a few meager belongings and looking back at the home she is about to leave, perhaps forever.  It’s a lonely image for a sad song.  Poor Eva.

Artist Unknown - Nightwish - Eva (single cover) (2007)

Artist Unknown – Nightwish – Eva (single cover) (2007)

Oh, and if you’d like to hear the song itself, you can check it out here.  I find it quite moving myself.  And the lyrics are here.

The next image is for the song Ever Dream, which was released before the album it would appear on, Century Child.  In this case, however, the cover art for the single release has little to do with the content of the song.  It’s just a nice romanticized image of a little girl.

Artist Unknown - Nightwish - Ever Dream (single cover)

Artist Unknown – Nightwish – Ever Dream (single cover)

This next cover image is one of my favorites that I’ve encountered over the last several months.  It’s from the band Royal Bliss, and the album is called Waiting Out the Storm.  The cover image artfully references The Wizard of Oz, as well as featuring some really lovely border art that recalls Constructivist poster designs.

Artist Unknown - Royal Bliss - Waiting Out the Storm (cover)

Artist Unknown – Royal Bliss – Waiting Out the Storm (cover)

Artist Unknown - Royal Bliss - Waiting Out the Storm (cover) (detail)

Artist Unknown – Royal Bliss – Waiting Out the Storm (cover) (detail)

The next cover design I’m fairly certain comes from Jugend originally, but I do not know which issue or who the artist is.  I just thought it was a lovely composition.  The band is Tangemeenie and the album is The Gilded Age.  Beyond that I know nothing about it.

Artist Unknown - Tangemeenie - The Gilded Age (cover)

Artist Unknown – Tangemeenie – The Gilded Age (cover)

And here is another stunning album cover design, this time for Wild Child‘s album The Runaround.  A nice use of digital photocollage here.

Artist Unknown - Wild Child - The Runaround (cover) (2013)

Artist Unknown – Wild Child – The Runaround (cover) (2013)

Here are a couple from female singer Tei Shi.  The first cover image—for Tei Shi’s rendition of Beyoncé‘s No Angel—looks to be a simple family snapshot of Tei Shi herself as a child, possibly in a Halloween costume or some sort of ballet outfit.  I love her tutu!  I have never seen one with that color combination before.  The cover itself has no text.

Photographer Unknown - Tei Shi - No Angel (single cover)

Photographer Unknown – Tei Shi – No Angel (single cover)

This second image is for Tei Shi’s single M&Ms and also seems to be a childhood snapshot of the singer herself, this time in a swimsuit and painted face and holding a bunch of balloons.  A birthday party photo perhaps?

Photographer Unknown - Tei Shi - M&Ms (single cover)

Photographer Unknown – Tei Shi – M&Ms (single cover)

Now here’s a classic!  This is the cover of the Rolling Stones album It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll, which came out in 1974.  The design is a photocollage where the artist, after completing the collage,  then went and hand-painted over the photos.  I’m guessing the little girls came from photos taken at one of Isadora Duncan’s dance schools.  The costumes are right at any rate, and notice the poses of the girls in the bottom left-hand corner and compare it with this image.  There’s something oddly suggestive about this image, hinting that the Rollings Stones have sex appeal to females of all ages, including little girls.

Artist Unknown - The Rolling Stones - It's Only Rock 'n Roll (cover) (1974)

Artist Unknown – The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (cover) (1974)

Here’s one I’ve been meaning to share for ages and just never quite got to it.  But here it is now.  This is the cover image for The Enchanter Persuaded album by Sinoia Caves (a.k.a. Jeremy Schmidt), an electronica musician.  I quite like this album, especially the songs Through the Valley and Evil Ball.  The photographer is Dewitt Jones, and the photo originally appeared in the April 1976 issue of National Geographic as part of a story on the poet Robert Frost (a big thanks to one of our readers for providing this information!)

Dewitt Jones - Sinoia Caves - The Enchanter Persuaded (cover)

Dewitt Jones – Sinoia Caves – The Enchanter Persuaded (cover)

Dewitt Jones (official site)

Last but not least, here we have the cover for Little Dragon‘s Nabuma Rubberband.  Little Dragon is an electronica band from Sweden.  This is a great cover, very dynamic.

Artist Unknown - Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband (cover)

Artist Unknown – Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband (cover)

A Provocative Perch

This story begins with a press photo I noticed on a sales site. I loved the impish expression of the girl while she sat on the head of the White Rabbit sculpture in Central Park, New York. Since the sculpture ties in to the whole Alice in Wonderland culture which is associated with a plethora of material about little girls, I decided it needed to be presented on this site. After a little digging, I realized this photo is historically significant as it was one of many taken during the unveiling of the statue in 1959.

Press photo (uncredited) (1959)

Press photo (uncredited) (1959)

I had no idea that this sculpture existed and even if I lived in New York, I would still probably not have known about it. Since beginning work on Pigtails and working with artists that deal with Alice lore extensively, I now feel it a duty to get to know some of this material (it would be impossible for any one person to keep track of it all). There are many sculptures in Central Park but this is one of the few depicting fictional characters. This piece features most prominently Alice, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit along with a few other charming characters and details from Lewis Carroll’s 1865 story. The statue is located on East 74th Street on the north side of Central Park’s Conservatory Water. The publisher George T. Delacorte Jr. commissioned the work from José de Creeft, in honor of Delacorte’s late wife, Margarita, and for the enjoyment of the children. The sculpture tries to follow John Tenniel’s whimsical illustrations from the first edition of the book Alice in Wonderland. Some sources suggest that de Creeft’s daughter Donna may have served as the model for Alice. The project’s architects and designers were Hideo Sasaki and Fernando Texidor, who inserted some plaques with inscriptions from the book in the terrace around the sculpture. The design of the sculpture attracts many children who climb its many levels, resulting in the bronze’s glowing patina, polished by thousands of tiny hands over the years. The casting was done at Modern Art Foundry Astoria in Queens, New York.

Owen Kennedy - Central Park's Alice in Wonderland (2009)

Owen Kennedy – Central Park’s Alice in Wonderland (2009)

Pip informed me that had I been more attentive, I might have noticed that there were a number of iconic images featuring this Central Park sculpture. In 1988, it appeared in Slick Rick’s music video, Children’s Story. But by Pip’s reckoning, the most notable photo was probably the one of Jimi Hendrix and his band sitting on the sculpture with a bunch of children. It was used as the back cover of some pressings of the Electric Ladyland album. Jimi actually wanted it for the front cover, but the studio in England insisted on a more provocative photo of nude women—a rare instance where the artist wanted a tamer image than the studio! Editions produced for the American market just feature a closeup of Jimi’s head, reflecting the more prudish attitudes in the U.S.  The image was photographed by Linda Eastman, who later married musician Paul McCartney.

Linda Eastman - The Jimi Hendix Experience's Electric Ladyland (back cover) (1968)

Linda Eastman – The Jimi Hendix Experience’s Electric Ladyland (back cover) (1968)

Sculptor and Photographer Unknown - (Title Unknown)

Sculptor and Photographer Unknown – (Title Unknown)

And while we are on the subject of children playing on statues, I have a bonus for you. This photograph also appeared online, but does not have any identifying information. The seller believes the statue is somewhere in Europe, but could offer no more than that. Anyone knowing anything about this piece is encouraged to come forward with the information and perhaps some better photos.

Wikipedia: Jose de Creeft

Linda McCartney (Linda Eastman) (official website)

Wikipedia: Linda McCartney

Wikipedia: Hideo Sasaki

Central Park (official website)

Jimi Hendrix (official site)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m not as sentimental as Pip about observing certain holidays or occasions.  But as I went through to repost and reread the lost posts from 2011-2012, I forgot how charming these simple and light-hearted posts were.  So, this year, I offer you this selection I have culled from various sales sites.

And speaking of occasions, I want to inform any of our readers who were not aware that Shirley Temple Black just passed away a couple days ago.  Pip did a lovely tribute to her on her birthday in 2011 and now that that post has been restored, you can see it here.  You will undoubtedly continue to see her presence on this site again and again.

 

Pigtails being a bastion of free speech, it seemed appropriate to show this one first:
val1

 

I know this is meant to be sweet, but there is just something disturbing about this giant cat:
val3

 

And continuing the animal theme:
val4

 

We tend to forget in our society that for a long time, a girl’s utility was in her skill at wifely duties and this attitude was impressed on them at a very early age.
val5

 

Cute or provocative?  You be the judge.
val6

Greeting card publishers were (and are) always looking for a gimmick to get people to buy their cards.  One was to have a slot for placing some item into the card—and a requisite play on words, of course.
val7

Sometimes this can be taken to weird extremes.  The logic of the placement of a sponge is quite strained and I’d bet good money that this was veiled attempt to promote some company’s product.
val8

 

I applaud Pip’s efforts to offer a range of girls of different races and cultures.  This also happens to be Black History Month.  Most of the items one sees on sales sites portraying Black girls is this kind of tasteless, stereotypical material that was clearly popular as it is all over the place—in this case, emphasizing the amusing “ignorant” speech patterns of Negros.  The text here seems to be a play on the popular song, Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby by Louis Jordan in 1944.  I have been toying with the idea of a post commenting on this genre of entertainment, but I still need to do a lot more research.
val9

This one was sitting in my archive from when I was keeping an eye out for girls with guns images for Pip.

rifle valentine card

Graffiti & Girls

I am pleased to present another submission from one of our guest writers, Ami. It is a challenge when editing someone else’s work to preserve the style and personality of the contributor while making sure the language is concise and clear. It is because of the dedication of fans like Ami that Pigtails can offer a broader perspective than Pip and I could by ourselves. Although we may not completely accept the world view of any particular writer, I think Ami’s contribution is worthy of exposure on this site. Enjoy, -Ron

Banksy is maybe the only graffiti artist ever to achieve household name recognition. His anonymous anti-establishment black & white stencil pieces have been spotted around the world. He boasts legal exhibitions, with his stuff going to people like Kate Moss and John Travolta for upwards of a quarter-million pounds, and there’s a movie about him: Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010).

Banksy - August, 2005

Banksy – August, 2005

Totally subaltern, it makes sense that one of Banksy’s landmark pieces is of… a little girl—the most hard-core rebellious tag that any subversive could identify with. So it was very apt, when on August 5th, 2005 the Global Community awoke to find a little girl had appeared, written by Banksy, on the 700 kilometer Security Barrier that is rapidly dividing the pariah Palestinians from the Israelis. Braided—maybe an allusion to Astrid Lindgren’s little anarchist heroine Pippi Longstocking—the small girl holds on to eight balloons that lift her off. She has an almost impossible lightness in a place noted for being very weighty, in a sometimes heavy world.

Another artist has also tweaked the graffiti art genre to achieve some legitimacy for the otherwise criminal art. Kevin Peterson, based in Houston, Texas, transferred wild-style scripts, tags and “bombed-out” urban spaces to canvas, and used it with corrugated metal as a background for the wickedest rebel icon: little girls… posing, strolling, gently smiling or just chillin’.

Kevin Peterson - Discompose (February, 2011)

Kevin Peterson – Discompose (February, 2011)

Kevin’s style is photo-realistic, causing one critic, Arseny Vesnin, to compare his work to Jacques-Louis David. The exquisitely rendered and vivacious little girls against a backdrop of rough street-art, urban decay and industrial metals offers a big contrast between the purest innocence and the trashiest breakdown. Kevin writes:

“It’s about growing up and living in a world that is broken. These paintings are about trauma, fear and loneliness and the strength that it takes to survive and thrive. They each contain the contrast of the untainted, young and innocent against a backdrop of a worn, ragged, and defiled world.”

Kevin describes himself in an interview with Michelle Markelz as having a soft spot for kids and it shows. We can easily tune in and empathize with the inner worlds of the girls in his figurative foregrounds. Each girl is solo, alone on the canvas, sometimes melancholy with perhaps a few hesitant smiles. Kevin says, “My work deals with isolation, loneliness and longing teamed with a level of optimistic hope.”

Kevin Peterson - Alone II

Kevin Peterson – Alone II

“Issues of race and the division of wealth have arisen in my recent work. This work deals with the idea of rigid boundaries, the hopeful breakdown of such restrictions, as well as questions about the forces that orchestrate our behavior.”

Recognizing his precise vision of innocence juxtaposed against hardness, Kevin makes reference to Banksy’s iconic Security Barrier girl many times in his work.

Kevin Peterson - from Graffiti Girls series

Kevin Peterson – from Graffiti Girls series

“A person who decides to go out and paint illegal graffiti and ‘deface’ other people’s property was once an innocent child as well but something happened along the way and they developed into someone who was willing to break laws and social norms to express themselves in such a way.”

…And sometimes that person who is willing to “break […] social norms to express themselves” still really is a child! If the image of a small graffiti girl is rebellious, a lil’ girl who writes graffiti must be revolutionary…

Solveig Barlow - November 29, 2007

Solveig Barlow – November 29, 2007

Called the “New” or “Female Banksy” by British media, the ten-year-old schoolgirl Solveig Barlow writes legally on wastelands around her Brighton home. While supported by her (magazine) writer father Paul and mother Heidi, she isn’t coached by them. Speaking of her muse Solveig told The Sun, “I’m not sure where I get my inspiration. I must just have a good imagination.” Solveig, which means “sunbeam” in Norwegian, uses SOL as her tag.

Solveig Barlow - March 23, 2009

Solveig Barlow – March 23, 2009

In the spirit of Banksy a year-and-a-half earlier, SOL gets up to the Berlin wall.

Solveig Barlow - November 27, 2007

Solveig Barlow – November 27, 2007

Graffiti is a subversive art—frequently anonymous, the expression of the alienated and disaffected. Its messages tend toward anti-establishment in form and content. But the most dissident piece or artist of all, turns out to be… the little girl.

The ultimate dissident philosophy is cute, fun, colorful, playful and readily forgives; it’s vulnerable, fragile, sincere and cries easily. That is what is most threatening to the heaviness of the world. That is what is most defended against, poked fun at and even called a crime.

Kevin Peterson - Into the Light

Kevin Peterson – Into the Light

Out-of-doors artist and social activist Keith Haring’s “radiant babies” are referenced by Kevin in his “Into the Light”. Openly gay, Keith was outspoken on gender and sexuality issues. He died of AIDS-related complications quite young, just 31.

Kevin Peterson - Hope

Kevin Peterson – Hope

”Kevin Peterson has a way with color that is so magnetizing and utterly perfect that at your first glance you see a photograph, at second glance you begin to realize it’s truth, by the third you are right in the middle of his brilliantly executed contrasted world of struggle and hope. Peterson has a clear depiction of the struggles of life … but it is his undertone of optimism and vulnerability that has kept our attention.” -Erin Leigh

The little girl in “Hope” is Ruby Bridges, after Norman Rockwell’s integration painting: “The Problem We All Live With”; she is a symbol of overcoming, reminding us that the dreams of movement and acceptance from earlier periods of art history still have hope and are found living in the same media today. While at the time, six-year-old Ruby represented the breakdown of racist segregation, today such a little girl might point to the equally powerful and punitive ageist and sexist rhetoric that maintains the norms and taboos of a contemporary capitalist patriarchy. Norman’s painting was printed in Look in 1964, since he had ended his contract with The Saturday Evening Post the previous year due to their unwillingness to accommodate his political expression.  Kevin says today, instead of trying to help solve social problems, he prefers to portray them in paint. “I’ve always enjoyed painting the figure…”

Kevin Peterson - Teddy

Kevin Peterson – Teddy

Long ago hardened against the glyph of the adult face and figure, every form of psychological defense thrown up against its affective expressions, the little girl still evokes for us our ultimate humanity, sensitivity and impermanence in an infinitely tender Universe.

Banksy - (untitled) (1)

Banksy – (untitled) (1)

Egoistic consciousness, meshed with the machinations of the big world, hates and despises what is sweet and soft and warmhearted. Kindness and caring melt the ego and its defenses. That’s why a harmless little girl is the most threatening icon to the System: she is trans-political and dissolves the vast, hard defenses of the statist war-machine and its cogs. Unlike ordinary signs, little girls are not absurd and dead arbitrary signifiers; they disarm everyone universally and immediately, being natural symbols of gentleness and goodhearted irreverence.

Banksy - (untitled) (2)

Banksy – (untitled) (2)

“As far as I can tell the only thing worth looking at in most museums of art is all the schoolgirls on day trips with the art departments.” -Banksy

And Solveig Barlow is definitely one schoolgirl worth taking a looking at….

Solveig Barlow - April 14, 2009

Solveig Barlow – April 14, 2009

In and through Solveig Barlow there is a radical going-over of the traditional subject/object dichotomy in Western art history. The little girl who had appeared as an image in the outsider art of graffiti writers, standing for the total subversion of all egoistic and worldly defenses, comes to life off the concrete walls and corrugated metal and writes for herself those anti-establishment images and graffiti.

Solveig Barlow

Solveig Barlow

For more images from these artists you can read Ami’s unedited article here and here.

SOL official website

Banksy official website

Kevin Peterson official website

Album Cover Assortment #1

Among my many loves is music, and I am extremely eclectic and wide-ranging in my tastes, though I tend towards avant garde pop and rock, especially the dark and haunting varieties.  Anyway, I encounter a wide range of fascinating album covers as I seek out new music, many of which fit the theme of this blog.  Rather than do them mostly as single-image posts as I tended to on the old Pigtails site, because of the large quantity of them (with more being discovered almost daily) I encounter in my musical adventures across Spotify, I’ve decided to post them in groups.  There will generally be no particular thematic or stylistic groupings, just a random selection of covers I really like.  And so, here is the first batch.

(Note: unless otherwise specified, the artists, photographers and/or designers of these album covers should be assumed to be unidentified.)

This one is adorned with a cute photo of the singer herself as a bare-bottomed toddler.  Love those boots!

Karen Maria Schleifer – Yes, You Can Touch It (cover)

Random Axe – Random Axe (cover)

Thad Fiscella – Love Without Words (cover)

The Nixons – Foma (cover)

This next one was actually released under two different titles, both with the same artwork.  Here is one version, The Inmost Light.  The alternate title is All the Pretty Little Horses.

Current 93 – The Inmost Light (cover)

Jamie Barnes – The Fallen Acrobat (cover)

Pearl and the Beard – Prodigal Daughter (cover)

This is the cover for Erasure’s single release of “Love to Hate You,” my favorite Erasure song, in fact.

Erasure – Love to Hate You (cover)

I’ve seen the fnords!  No, not the band–Robert Anton Wilson would understand. 😉

Note: a reader of the blog has correctly identified the artist for this cover as John Kenn Mortensen, who just goes by John Kenn on his blog (highly recommended for fans of Edward Gorey, Charles Addams, etc.)  So a big thanks to that reader!

John Kenn Mortensen – The Fnords – Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Fnords (cover)

This cover is just absolutely enchanting:

D’aLan – Light of the Ice Fairies (cover)

Dolour – The Years in the Wilderness (cover)

Various Artists – My Old Man: A Tribute to Steve Goodman (cover)

Cherry Ripe!

There is a garden in her face
Where roses and white lilies grow;
A heav’nly paradise is that place
Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow.
There cherries grow which none may buy,
Till “Cherry-ripe” themselves do cry.

The above is the first stanza of Thomas Campion’s poem “There is a Garden in Her Face,” a paean to a beautiful virginal girl. How do we know this? We must first put it into historical context. Cherry vendors in England traditionally used the call “Cherry ripe!” to let people know that cherries were ready to buy. If we apply this fact to the poem, we see that the man is describing a girl that, while beautiful, is not yet ready to be “bought”—that is, she hasn’t quite reached sexual maturity. Campion admires this girl for her sexual purity, which he acquaints with spiritual purity. Here we have a basic explanation for the Victorian cult of the girl (which followed Campion by a couple hundred years): girls, because of their perceived innocence and sweetness, were considered above all other natural human groups to be the closest to God, so long as they maintained their virginity, hence British society’s horror of the underground culture of girls being kidnapped and deflowered—brought to light by W. T. Stead’s series The Maiden Tribute to Modern Babylon, and likely highly exaggerated therein—which compelled Britain’s Parliament to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16.

In terms of cherries being associated with young girls and virginity, many people seem to be under the impression that slang terms like cherry, in reference to the hymen, was invented by their generation, or at least the generation before theirs. In fact, this is not so:

cherry […] Meaning “maidenhead, virginity” is from 1889, U.S. slang, from supposed resemblance to the hymen, but perhaps also from the long-time use of cherries as a symbol of the fleeting quality of life’s pleasures.”

There we have it. The slang term dates at least to 1889, but I suspect the association of this particular fruit with virginity dates further back than even Campion’s poem, which was first published in 1617. And we are also given another, older, symbolism for cherries in the above etymology: they stand for the fleeting quality of physical pleasure. This too can be tied into sex, but also to childhood, which is itself fleeting. This symbolism is the Western tradition, but even in the East the cherry (and more specifically the cherry blossom) are also associated with maidenhood/virginity. We are more concerned with the Western mode here, but I do find it interesting that such disparate cultures can arrive at a similar symbolic representation, don’t you?

Back to the poem. We get the impression from the final stanza not of a full-grown woman—worldly and self-assured—but of a nervous girl being approached by potential mates, as if she is a wary doe being stalked by wolves on the hunt.

Why am I bringing all of this up? It is to lay the foundation of context for one very interesting painting, that painting being Sir John Everett Millais’s “Cherry Ripe”, a deceptively simple portrait of a little girl in a white dress with pink highlights sitting on a log in the forest . . .

John Everett Millais – Cherry Ripe (1879)

Wikipedia: John Everett Millais

Millais was a Pre-Raphaelite painter, and like most of the Pre-Raphaelites, he loaded his art with symbolism. First, the semiotics of color. White was of course the color of purity. Children, particularly little girls, were often dressed in white for formal portraits. Moreover, the child is placed against a dark and shadowy forest from which any wild beast could emerge and snatch her from her perch; unlike most portraits, which are set safely indoors or illuminated spaces, this one is actually a bit edgy. More likely than not this was intentional on Millais’s part. I have mentioned before that semiotically a white figure against black backdrop stresses the figure’s vulnerability or purity—or, in this case, both—in a morally nebulous world. Pale pink, which is traditionally associated with young girls, is also the color of cherry blossoms, and the child’s flesh is also pinkish. Here we have a figure composed almost entirely of white and pink. The lone exceptions are her eyes and hair and the black gloves, but as they were a conscious choice, it is the gloves that draw our attention.

The gloves are black. The color black has many symbolic interpretations, but here it screams sexuality. Look closely at the girl’s hands: they are placed in her lap and closed together prayer-style, only inverted. The gloves are fingerless, V-shaped and adjacent to her hands, inevitably funneling one’s attention right to the girl’s fleshy, exposed fingers, and (as more than one art critic has pointed out) those fingers happen to resemble a vulva.

Now some questions arise. Was this accidental or deliberate on the part of Millais? I suspect the answer is somewhere in between. And what exactly is Millais saying with this painting? Perhaps he is wrestling with the Victorian notion of the asexual girl-child, and suggesting that it may be a tad more complicated than that. Maybe he’s being ironic. After all, despite the title of the piece, the little girl is clearly nowhere near being “ripe”, and indeed some of the cherries lying at her side belie the title as well. Then again, maybe it is entirely coincidental, but I doubt it.

There is one other possibility I can think of. Millais was a friend of culture/art critic John Ruskin, who was married to Effie Gray at the time they met and became friends. But Ruskin had been married to Effie for several years and had yet to consummate the marriage, owing to, it was rumored, his mortal dread of pubic hair. Ruskin, like Lewis Carroll, had written a book for his beloved when she was still a child. The book was The King of the Golden River. Unlike Carroll, however, Ruskin was eventually able to marry the girl he had eyes for, although Ruskin and Effie were only nine years apart in age whereas Carroll and Alice Liddell were twenty years apart and of different social classes from one another. Anyway, Millais and Effie eventually fell in love, the marriage between Ruskin and Effie was annulled, and Effie remarried Millais, with whom she had eight children. (Side note: The oldest Millais daughter—also called Effie—was even one of Lewis Carroll’s photographic subjects.) Now, Ruskin was a fan of the Pre-Raphaelites, but given the embarrassing situation between Ruskin, Millais and Effie, it is little wonder that Ruskin began to condemn Millais’s post-marriage work, ostensibly because it was of lower quality according to Ruskin, but in reality it is more likely that Ruskin felt slighted and used his power as a critic to avenge the loss of his mate to Millais the best way he knew how. Is it possible, then, that Millais, with the painting “Cherry Ripe,” was publicly mocking Ruskin and his supposed pubic hair phobia? Probably not, but it is worth considering.

And speaking of Lewis Carroll, perhaps the next most famous artwork featuring little girls and cherries after the Millais piece is Carroll’s photo of the Liddell sisters (Edith, Lorina and Alice) in which the oldest girl, Lorina, is feeding Alice a cherry. Alice stands with her head cocked and mouth slightly agape, like a baby bird waiting to be fed by its mother. And, of course, Alice would be the one to be fed, given Carroll’s ongoing fascination with her.

Lewis Carroll – The Three Liddell Sisters (“Open Your Mouth”) (1860)

Wikipedia: Lewis Carroll

The above was one of several Carroll works that Polixeni Papapetrou created a tribute to.

Polixeni Papapetrou – Cherry Group

Polixeni Papapetrou (Official Site)

One step removed from this, cherries—really any fruit, but apples and cherries in particular—can represent transgression, as in the story of Adam and Eve, in which children stand in for the first humans and the crime that brings on their downfall is theft.

Fritz Zuber-Bühler – The Cherry Thieves

Wikipedia: Fritz Zuber-Bühler

Carl Larsson – Forbidden Fruit

Wikipedia: Carl Larsson

Frederick Morgan – Cherry Pickers

Wikipedia: Frederick Morgan (painter)

Note the coy and mischievous expression on this girl’s face:

Charles Amable Lenoir – The Cherrypicker (1900)

Wikipedia: Charles Amable Lenoir

Cherries can also represent intimacy, both romantic and familial.

Paul Hermann Wagner – Idylle mit Atelier (1889)

Lord Frederick Leighton – Mother and Child (1865)

Lord Frederic Leighton: The Complete Works

Wikipedia: Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton

Franz von Defregger – Kinder beim Kirschenessen (1869)

Wikipedia: Franz Defregger

Cherries can become an amusement for little girls playing at being women.

Frederick Morgan – Cherry Earrings (1)

Frederick Morgan – Cherry Earrings (2)

Frederick Morgan – The Cherry Gatherers

Georg Rössler – Mädchen mit Kirschen (1901)

But mostly cherries were just colorful eye-catchers that helped to emphasize the vibrancy and ruddy healthiness of youth . . .

Emile Vernon – The Cherry Bonnet (1919)

John Russell – Little Girl with Cherries (1780)

Wikipedia: John Russell (painter)

Friedrich von Kaulbach – Kirschen (Cherries)

Wikipedia: Friedrich Kaulbach

Fritz Zuber-Bühler – The First Cherries

Finally, a couple of curious contemporary artworks in which girl meets fruit; to be honest, I’m not sure exactly what to make of these.

Rene Lynch – Wonderland: Cherry Picking (2005)

Rene Lynch (Official Site)

I will say one thing about this final piece: Pay attention to how the little nude girl unwittingly mimics the lithe erotically posed woman in the magazine her mother is holding.

Tatiana Deriy – Little Cherry

(Editor’s update, 2015/11/06: There is a larger image of Little Cherry on Tatiana Deriy’s website.)