Christmas Girls…kind of

Although Christmas, as it is usually celebrated, has already passed and the new year has already begun, I’d like to present here a selection so-called “Christmas Girls”. Incomplete though, but an attempt to search for the variation in depiction of girls during Christmastime. Also important in parts of the world is Epiphany, or the coming of the three wise men celebrated on the 6th of January. And in some Orthodox churches, Christmas has yet to come on the west’s 7th of January, because of the use of the Julian instead of the Gregorian calendar.

Looking back, Christianity began with a nativity, with a boy. Or was his mother still a kind of girl? The early depictions of Mary regards her as a virgin, not quite the same as a girl. So to look for a role model for the girl in Christianity, one has only the Virgin Mary, but later Christmas traditions begin to introduce other notions the Christmas Girl. The connection of my Christmas visions to Mary only came to mind while writing this.

Maybe there was Mary, the girl, that we never got the chance to know before Gabriel’s annunciation for her to become a mother. And she would remain a virgin, though the Bible does tell that Jesus had brothers and sisters. After the Nativity, her often girlish depiction probably contributed to her divinity and her virginity probably required a more girlish depiction. Historically girls, at that time and place, would marry young by our standards: around 12, 14, or even younger.

William Adolphe Bougereau - Song of the Angels (1881)

William Adolphe Bougereau – Song of the Angels (1881)

Thus if Christianity began with a young woman, one could ask why Santa Claus, another symbol of Christmas, is not a woman. Where Mary’s child is perhaps the only real Christmas gift, Santa Claus’ gifts are wished for and dreamed about by children and adults. This is maybe why the representation of girls has become more like our cultural dreams about Christmas, rather than the representations of boys. Or it should be the sweet (Christmas) child in general, either boy or girl?

Xck -Christmas Girl (2010)

Xck – Christmas Girl (2010)

However, I am imagining not only shepherds, wise men, an ox and donkey visiting Jesus, but a group of children (with at least one girl). She might have been something like Jackie Evancho singing The First Noël.  Here is a still from a YouTube clip.

Jackie Evancho - The View: The First Noël (2011)

The View/ABC – Jackie Evancho Sings The First Noël (2011)

There is also the depiction of the girl next door, having an ordinary modern Christmas. Such girls might be found under a Christmas tree among the gifts to be opened, perhaps singing Christmas carols, at a Christmas dinner, at home or in a swimming pool (climate permitting).

(Artist Unknown) - Christmas Cheer

(Artist Unknown) – Christmas Cheer

(Artist Unknown) - Honest Christmas Girl

(Artist Unknown) – Honest Christmas Girl

(Artist Unknown) - Christmas Joy

(Artist Unknown) – Christmas Joy

Why not a girl in a church? Or in front of one of the most famous, at Manger Square, at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. These girls are wearing the traditional Palestinian costumes in a Christmas procession.  This site is revered as the birthplace of Jesus in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Palestinian girls in Christmas procession (2013)

Reuters – Palestinian girls in Christmas procession (2013)

Palestinian children at Manger Square (2013)

AP – Palestinian children at Manger Square (2013)

Such girls, living here and there, can be found standing model among some artistic Christmas scenery.

Anneke Schram, Studio Anyke, Photowitch – Pink Little Christmas Angel (Date Unknown)

Anneke Schram, Studio Anyke, Photowitch – Pink Little Christmas Angel (Date Unknown)

Anna Omelchenko - Cute Christmas Angel

Anna Omelchenko – Cute Christmas Angel

Or for a Christmas card, modern or vintage.

8a Teresa Kasprzycka - Christmas collage in red

Teresa Kasprzycka – Christmas Collage in Red (Date Unknown)

8b Joyeux Noel

(Artist Unknown) – Joyeux Noël

9 Merry Christmas

(Artist Unknown) – Merry Christmas

Yazidis do not seem to celebrate Christmas, and being refugees hunted, raped, killed and sold as slaves they have almost become a symbol of the opposite of Christmas. Hopefully guest rooms will remain available for these refugees, so that they need not sleep in mangers.

Anthony Legg - Yezidi Girl (2005)

Anthony Legg – Yazidi Girl (2005)

And so we move on to the Epiphany, the coming of the Three Kings, Wise Men or Magi, as well as the baptism of Jesus by John in the River Jordan celebrated on the 6th of January.

Epiphany celebrations of the Three Kings in Dover, USA (2014)

Epiphany celebrations of the Three Kings in Dover, USA (2014)

As mentioned before, several Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas one day after Epiphany in the West, the 7th of January, and then Epiphany on the 21st.  Here, Palestinian Christian girls await arrival of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem before the Eastern Orthodox Christmas procession.

Palestinian Christian girls outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (2015)

Ammar Awad/Reuters – Palestinian Christian girls outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (2015)

Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria, Greece and Albania traditionally dive into freezing water to retrieve a wooden crucifix, a ritual dating back to Byzantine times.

Brandon and Katie Price - An Epihany in Charkov (2013)

Brandon and Katie Price – An Epiphany in Kharkov (2013) (1)

It is not nearly as common to see children participating, and so the ones who do get quite a bit of attention. Here, a father waits with his young daughter.

Brandon and Katie Price - An Epihany in Charkov (2013) (2)

Brandon and Katie Price – An Epiphany in Kharkov (2013) (2)

Brandon and Katie Price - An Epiphany in Charkov (2013) (3)

Brandon and Katie Price – An Epiphany in Kharkov (2013) (3)

There are several layers of story here—tradition, childlike faith, and the publicity of it all. In the end, the little girl couldn’t manage to go all the way under, so she just dunked herself to her neck three times. brandonandkatie.com, January 21, 2013

Bouguereau Remastered

Editor’s Note: The site “Bouguereau Remastered” no longer exists on the web.

Sometimes in my voyages across the Internet in search of new stuff for the blog, I come across something fun.  This was just such a discovery.  On the site Bouguereau Remastered, assorted artists create variations on famous William-Adolphe Bouguereau works, usually with some satirical bent. Bouguereau, of course, frequently painted children (often his own), and so there are plenty of examples of these works represented at Bouguereau Remastered; I chose those I felt were the best.

Among my favorite pieces at BR were the assorted versions of L’amour mouillé:

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Artist Unknown – Celestial Bodies

Artist Unknown - Bouguereau's Tattoo Show

Artist Unknown – Bouguereau’s Tattoo Show

This is cool. Digital artist Cézar Brandão has created a 3D rendering of the figure from L’amour mouillé:

Cézar Brandão - Bouguereau's Angel

Cézar Brandão – Bouguereau’s Angel

Cézar Brandão - Bouguereau's Angel (detail)

Cézar Brandão – Bouguereau’s Angel (detail)

Ron English, who is famous for his satirical paintings using KISS figures, did a take on Alma Parens:

Ron English - Miracle of the Milk Kiss

Ron English – Miracle of the Milk Kiss

Ron English - Miracle of the Milk Kiss (detail)

Ron English – Miracle of the Milk Kiss (detail)

A cute little rock girl based on Bouguereau’s Un moment du repos:

Artist Unknown - Bouguereau Rocker

Artist Unknown – Bouguereau Rocker

This artist created a parody of La charité featuring rock star Slash:

M. J. Haylor – Slash La charite

A couple of different versions of La tricoteuse:

Artist Unknown - Combat Girl

Artist Unknown – Combat Girl

Mark Lawrence (Aards2) - Little Supergirl

Mark Lawrence (Aards2) – Little Supergirl

Pictures of the figures stepping out of their frames are quite popular at Bouguereau Remastered:

Artist Unknown - Egg Drop

Artist Unknown – Egg Drop

The best ones seem to incorporate completely incongruous aspects:

John93036 - Young Apprentice

John93036 – Young Apprentice

SteveRS - Young Punk Girl

SteveRS – Young Punk Girl

Krtoon - The Difficult Lesson

Krtoon – The Difficult Lesson

Ziaphra - Skindeep

Ziaphra – Skindeep

These next two are particularly sweet and lovely:

Emily Anney (Child7) - Forest Hideaway

Emily Anney (Child7) – Forest Hideaway

Kenneth Rougeau - Just This Side of Morning

Kenneth Rougeau – Just This Side of Morning

I think this last is my favorite:

Renato Dornas - Crashed again!

Renato Dornas – Crashed again!

DeviantArt: Cézar BrandãoCézar Brandão on blogspot

Popaganda – The Art and Crimes of Ron English (Official Site)

Note: I will be featuring more work from Ron English in the future, so keep a look out for him.

DeviantArt: Child7

Kenneth Rougeau

DeviantArt: renatodornas

Worth1000 (Most of the artists who aren’t identified by real names here have pages and bios at Worth1000.)

Psyche Pt. 3: Pre-Victorian and Victorian Era

Before we get into the Victorian era proper, let’s present an example of Wedgwood from 1773–this appears to be the piece on which William Etty based this 1820 painting. Something seems a little odd here. Whatever the case, I do not know the original artist who sculpted this:

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Artist Unknown – The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche (Wedgwood) (1773)

And a couple more examples of Neoclassicism:

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Angelika Kauffmann – Bildnis der Geschwister Plymouth als Amor und Psyche (1795)

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Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein-Stub – Eros and Psyche (1815)

The adolescent Psyche was a favorite subject of French painter Guillaume Seignac:

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Guillaume Seignac – Psyche (1)

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Guillaume Seignac – Psyche (2)

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Auguste Moreau – Young Psyche (1800s)

The most famous artistic representation of Cupid and Psyche as a pair of children is, of course, Bouguereau’s “First Kiss”:

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William-Adolphe Bouguereau – L’Amour et Psyche, enfants (First Kiss) (1873)

Bouguereau also painted the couple as adolescents:

9adolphe-william-bouguereau

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Psyche et L’Amour (1889)

11-reinhold-begas-eros-and-psyche-1870s

Reinhold Begas – Eros and Psyche (1870s)

13-eugene-medard-lamour-et-psyche-1878

Eugene Medard – L’Amour et Psyche (1878)

14-jules-joseph-lefebvre-study-for-psyche-1883

Jules Joseph Lefebvre – Study for ‘Psyche’ (1883)

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Annie Louisa Swynnerton – Cupid and Psyche (1891)

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Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry – Cupid and Psyche (1892)

17-lionel-noel-royer-cupid-and-psyche-1-1893

Lionel Noel Royer – Cupid and Psyche (1893)

18-middleton-jameson-cupid-and-psyche-1898

Middleton Jameson – Cupid and Psyche (1898)

Wikipedia: Wedgwood

Wikipedia: Angelika Kauffmann

Wikipedia: Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein-Stub (Page is in Danish.)

Wikipedia: Guillaume Seignac

Wikipedia: William-Adolphe Bouguereau

William-Adolphe Bouguereau: The Complete Works

Wikipedia: Reinhold Begas

Wikipedia: Jules Joseph Lefebvre

Jules Joseph Lefebvre: The Complete Works

Wikipedia: Annie Swynnerton

Wikipedia: Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry

Wikipedia: Lionel Royer

Wikipedia: Middleton Jameson

Bare Beach Babies Pt. 1: The Victorian Era

Before swimming came into popularity as a pastime there was sea bathing, a practice that traces back to the 1600s but which really took off during the Victorian age, when the advent of railroads allowed fast and easy passage to the seaside in many European countries and the American coasts.  While adults tended to wear clothes for such bathing, at least in mixed company, children were given a bit more leeway with regard to their bathing costume.  It was not uncommon for young children to bathe sans habillement–that is, without clothing.  While occasional prudish laws and mores cropped up before then–e.g.Wikipedia states the following: “For example, in the 16th century, a German court document in the Vechta prohibited the naked (meaning everything exposed) public swimming of children.”—it wasn’t until the 20th century that the prevailing tastes of the West deemed it necessary for children to don clothing while at public beaches. Thus, several artists of the era captured children frolicking nude at the seaside, one of the few places where this was still allowed in public. Perhaps these painters were drawn to these scenes because they recalled something of the Classical Age that the Victorians and 19th century Europeans were so fascinated with. A few painters, most notably Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, dedicated nearly their whole career to these beach idylls.

thc3a9opohile-auguste-vauchele

Théophile Auguste Vauchelet – l’Eau (Early 1800s)

thc3a9opohile-auguste-vauchel22

Théophile Auguste Vauchelet – Le Printemps (Early 1800s)

anselm-feuerbach-children

Anselm Feuerbach – Children on the Beach

Bouguereau’s little bathers are just beginning to shed their clothes:

adolphe-william-bouguereau

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Les jeunes baigneuses (1879)

benito-rebolledo-correa-c

Benito Rebolledo Correa – Children Playing at the Beach

benito-rebolledo-correa-g

Benito Rebolledo Correa – Girl on the Beach

benito-rebolledo-correa-l

Benito Rebolledo Correa – La Brisa

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Benito Rebolledo Correa – Nina frente al mar

charles-chaplin-two-girls1

Charles Chaplin – Two Girls Bathing (1866)

frederick-arthur-bridgman

Frederick Arthur Bridgman – The Bathing Beauties (1872)

emanuel-phillips-fox-the

Emanuel Phillips Fox – The Bathing Hour

hans-heyerdahl-1

Hans Heyerdahl – The Rock

maurice-denis-games-in-th

Maurice Denis – Games in the Sand

Paul Emile Chabas – Mother and Child Bathing

Paul Emile Chabas – Mother and Child Bathing

Paul Emile Chabas – Premier bain (1907) (1)

Paul Emile Chabas – Premier bain (1907) (2)

joaquin-sorolla-antes-del

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida – Antes del Bano (1909)

joaquin-sorolla-las-dos-h

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida – Las dos hermanas (1909)

joaquin-sorolla-the-bath

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida – The Bath, Jávea (1905)

paul-gustave-fischer-a-da

Paul Gustave Fischer – A Day at the Beach (1900)

Wikipedia: Anselm Feuerbach

Wikipedia: William-Adolphe Bouguereau

William-Adolphe Bouguereau: The Complete Works

Wikipedia: Charles Chaplin (artist)

Wikipedia: Frederick Arthur Bridgman

Frederick Arthur Bridgman: The Complete Works

Wikipedia: E. Phillips Fox

Wikipedia: Maurice Denis

Wikipedia: Paul Emile Chabas

Wikipedia: Joaquin Sorolla

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida: The Complete Works

Wikipedia: Paul Gustave Fischer

Deflowered: Loss of Virginity in Art

Prior to the twentieth century sexuality in art was rarely expressed openly but was instead couched in symbolic terms or merely hinted at in order to avoid offending the sensibilities of the wrong people, namely church leaders and conservative secular powers. So it was with the theme of lost virginity. Pre-Victorian girls generally were married off, and consequently surrendered their sexual innocence, not long after they reached puberty (it was only around the nineteenth century that the concept of adolescence as an extended period of childhood really took hold–before this puberty meant adulthood and everything that went with it.)Thus, when loss of virginity was dealt with in pre-Victorian and Victorian art, it was framed symbolically, and the girls are frequently represented as quite young.

One of the most common symbols of this theme was the girl dipping her toe into or wading in water, in essence testing the sexual waters. Perhaps the earliest painted example (if we do not count the various paintings of Susanna, who was already married by the time of her bathing scene and so cannot be counted as virginal) is Joseph-Désiré Court’s Young Girl at the Scamander River, painted in 1824. In it we can see that the girl is barely pubescent, her breasts just beginning to bud, and she is being helped into the water by a muscular youth, who already has one foot in the water himself:

Joseph-Désiré Court - Young Girl at the Scamander River (Nymph and Faun Bathing) (1824)

Joseph-Désiré Court – Young Girl at the Scamander River (Nymph and Faun Bathing) (1824)

Wikipedia: Joseph-Désiré Court

Before Court’s painting came Étienne-Maurice Falconet’s sculpture Bather; the girl is older here but still quite youthful:

Étienne-Maurice Falconet - Bather (1757)

Étienne-Maurice Falconet – Bather (1757)

Wikipedia: Étienne Maurice Falconet

The trend continued into the Victorian era:

Paul Peel – The Little Shepherdess (1892)

Paul Peel – The Little Shepherdess (1892)

Wikipedia: Paul Peel

Jules Joseph Lefebvre - Chloe (1875)

Jules Joseph Lefebvre – Chloe (1875)

Jules Joseph Lefebvre: The Complete Works

Wikipedia: Jules Joseph Lefebvre

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - La gue (The Ford) (1895)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – La gue (The Ford) (1895)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau: The Complete Works

Wikipedia: William-Adolphe Bouguereau

A few artists even extended the theme to even younger girls:

Georges Jacquot - Jeune nymphe descendant dans l'eau

Georges Jacquot – Jeune nymphe descendant dans l’eau

Wikipedia: Georges Jacquot

Paul Émile Chabas – The Bather

Wikipedia: Paul Émile Chabas

Within this symbolic artistic dialogue about virginity we could also include Thomas Couture’s painting The Little Bather, who is so young that, not only has she not yet stepped into the water, no water is even visible around her.  Other symbols of her innocence reinforce the concept, including an uneaten green apple (an allusion to the Garden of Eden), the white frock she’s sitting on and a crucifix:

Thomas Couture - The Little Bather (1849)

Thomas Couture – The Little Bather (1849)

Wikipedia: Thomas Couture

Another major symbol of virginity lost was the broken water vessel, which had its roots in the late Renaissance.  This tradition was exemplified by Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s The Broken Pitcher.  There are a handful of cues here that the girl has just come from her first sexual tryst.  The most overt is the nipple which coyly peeks from the top of her dress.  There is also the fact that, as per Robert Herrick’s poem, she has “gathered her rosebuds”–that is, she is making use of the advantages of her youth.  But, of course, it is the titular broken pitcher itself that signaled her lost innocence most effectively to the viewer.

Jean-Baptiste Greuze - The Broken Pitcher (1849) (1)

Jean-Baptiste Greuze – The Broken Pitcher (1849) (1)

Jean-Baptiste Greuze - The Broken Pitcher (1849) (2)

Jean-Baptiste Greuze – The Broken Pitcher (1849) (2)

Wikipedia: Jean-Baptiste Greuze

Bouguereau continued the trend with his painting of the same name, but unlike Greuze’s sweet and content girl, Bouguereau’s girl appears to be saddened by the loss.  Freud would not have missed the phallic implications of the spigot in this painting either:

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - The Broken Pitcher (1891)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – The Broken Pitcher (1891)

Ramón Casas i Carbó depicted deflowering slightly more literally in his Flores Deshojadas, where the girl lies amidst a floor strewn with shed flower petals:

Ramón Casas i Carbó – Flores Deshojadas (1894)

Wikipedia: Ramon Casas i Carbó

One of the most blatant examples of the lost virginity theme in art is also one of the most famous, Paul Gauguin’s The Loss of Virginity.  The piece, with its bright modernist blocks of color and its in-your-face context,
seems to be the final artistic statement on the matter:

Paul Gauguin - The Loss of Virginity (1890-91)

Paul Gauguin – The Loss of Virginity (1890-91)

Paul Gauguin: The Complete Works

Wikipedia: Paul Gauguin

Indeed, artistically I suppose all that can be said about young girls’ loss of virginity (in our increasingly self-conscious and paranoid postmodern world) that won’t cast suspicion on the artist must be filtered through the lens of satire:

Mike Cockrill - Broken Pitcher (2007)

Mike Cockrill – Broken Pitcher (2007)

Mike Cockrill (Official Site)