Half-Naked, Half-Dressed

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

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

Glenice - Amber (1982)

Glenice – Amber (1982)

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

Glenice - Amber figurine (c1982)

Glenice – Amber figurine (c1982)

Glenice - Amber figurine (c1982) (detail)

Glenice – Amber figurine (c1982) (detail)

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

Flowerbuds of the Desert: Girls and Orientalism, Pt. 2

Continuing with our assortment of Orientalist works . . .

Eva Roos – Young Girl

Wikipedia: Eva Roos

Frederick Goodall – An Egyptian Flower Girl

Frederick Goodall – The Song of the Nubian Slave

The Goodall Family of Artists: Frederick Goodall, R.A. (official site)

Wikipedia: Frederick Goodall

Gaston Casimir Saint-Pierre – Orientale à la tortue, aux bains

Gaston Casimir Saint-Pierre – The Approach of the Master

Gustave Achille Guillaumet – Intérieur à Bou-Saâda – scène orientale

Gustave Achille Guillaumet – Deux enfants arabes assis

Wikipedia: Gustave Achille Guillaumet

Isidore Pils – Kabyles

Wikipedia: Isidore Pils

I really like this next painting. Yes, young children are the same everywhere.

John Bagnold Burgess – The Meeting of East and West

Wikipedia: John Bagnold Burgess

John Singer Sargent – Nude Egyptian Girl (1891)

Tons of online resources for Sargent . . .

John Singer Sargent: The Complete Works

JSS Virtual Gallery

Wikipedia: John Singer Sargent

Edwin Lord Weeks – Moorish Girl Lying on a Couch, Rabat, Morocco

Antonio Fabrés y Costa – Young Oriental Girls

Wikipedia: Antonio Fabrés

Paul Alexandre Alfred Leroy – Idle Moments

Paul Alexandre Alfred Leroy – Portrait of a Young Girl

Paul Elie Dubois – Jeune Morocaine à Figuig 

Paul Elie Dubois – Pastorale au Hoggar

Paul Elie Dubois – The Family of Tinguelouz from Hoggar

Rudolf Ernst (attributed) – An Eastern Bazaar

Wikipedia: Rodolf Ernst

Flowerbuds of the Desert: Girls and Orientalism, Pt. 1

Largely a byproduct of the 19th century West’s fascination with Eastern cultures, particularly those of the Middle East, the Orientalist trend in art was widespread in British and European art.  The bright colors and exotic locales (not to mention the more overt eroticism that could be portrayed when dealing with foreign subjects, since they were considered less civilized anyway) attracted artists like a magnet.  One especially tempting draw for these painters were harem scenes, for obvious reasons, and it should be no surprise to anyone that occasionally the subjects were young adolescent girls.  While it is true that there is often an implicit, if not explicit, racism in the attitudes of these Western artists and their portrayals of the Middle East, it is also fair to say that there was likewise a deep-seated admiration, and perhaps even a kind of respect, for a culture which to many Westerners must’ve evoked the scenes and peoples of the Bible, including the harem, which is a tradition that stretches into the ancient histories of the Middle East, Southeast Asia and even in parts of South America.

It is important to note that the Western conception of the harem as a kind of lush prison full of the sultan’s or king’s hundreds of sex slaves, aside from being largely an exaggerated myth of the xenophobic Occidental world, is also a rather simplistic notion of what the harem was.  Essentially the harem was the domain of the women, children and concubines of a Middle Eastern royal’s family, forbidden to all males save for eunuchs and the king, sultan or other high-ranking royalty or leaders, which would include his wives, mother, daughters, and even sons until they came of age.  The harem could be a kind of paradise, a feminine oasis, and other than the slaves and servants, women had a good deal of power here that they would not have outside the harem’s walls.

Like Symbolism, Orientalism was less an artistic movement in itself than a loose confederation of art addressing a common theme.  Ergo, there are many different artists with a wide range of styles that fit into the Orientalist tradition.

Carl Timoleon von Neff – Harem Beauty (1859)

Alois Hans Schramm – Bedouin with Young Girl

Alois Hans Schramm – Counting the Bounty

Armand Point – An Arab Weaver

Armand Point – An Arab Weaver (detail)

Henry d’Estienne – An Arab Girl Carrying Bread

Henry d’Estienne – Jeune orientale aux bijoux

Jean Launois – Juive d’El Oued et son enfant

Marc Alfred Chataud – Fillettes algériennes

Paul Désiré Trouillebert – Harem Servant Girl (1874)

Wikipedia: Paul Trouillebert

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.)

Heinrich Max Vogel

As I said before, Heinrich Vogeler and Heinrich Max Vogel are two different artists.  We did a post on the former last month; now we shall do a post on the latter.  This first painting reminds me of the work of Léon Fréderic (whom we will be getting to at some point), and at first I thought it was his work, but it clearly bears Vogel’s signature.  At any rate, it is most certainly a Symbolist piece.  The only version of the image I could find has a Swedish title rather than a German, and while I’m not exactly sure what it says, since I am much better at reading German than I am Swedish, I think it translates to something like “Playing Children and the Frog Prince”—the Frog Prince is hard to see, but he’s located near the bottom center of the painting.


Heinrich Max Vogel – Lekande barn och grodprinsen

Heinrich Max Vogel – Kinder mit Gänseschar (Children with a Gaggle of Geese)

Heinrich Max Vogel – Kinder mit Gänseschar (Children with a Gaggle of Geese)

Laurens’s ‘Death of Saint Genevieve’

Wow!  This painting is epic.  While the little girl is not the focal point of this work, she certainly grabs your attention.  This was a commissioned work for the apse of the Panthéon in Paris, where many famous Frenchmen are buried, including Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Émile Zola. Actually this is not the full painting but only the Main (center) panel.  I’m not crazy about the little girl’s face—it seems to me that the artist used an adult as the model because the eyes are too small and the nose is all wrong, but overall it’s a magnificent painting.


Jean-Paul Laurens – La mort de Sainte Geneviève (1877)

Jean-Paul Laurens – La mort de Sainte Geneviève (detail) (1877)

Jean-Paul Laurens – La mort de Sainte Geneviève (detail) (1877)

Wikipedia: Jean-Paul Laurens

Adrian Ludwig Richter

Although he preceded the jugendstil art movement, Richter’s work was featured in at least one issue of Jugend, around twenty years after he had passed away.  A longtime painter and illustrator of children’s books and fairy tales, he was considered a national treasure at that point. Heavily influenced by Romanticism, his style does come across as somewhat quaint today, but his compositions are detailed and masterful.


Adrian Ludwig Richter – Brautzug im Frühling (Bridal Procession in Springtime) (1847)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – Heimkehr der Landleute nach Civitella (1867)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – Heimkehr der Landleute nach Civitella (1867)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – Hirtenlied (1871)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – Hirtenlied (1871)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – In the Summer

Adrian Ludwig Richter – In the Summer

Adrian Ludwig Richter – My Nest is the Best

Adrian Ludwig Richter – My Nest is the Best

Adrian Ludwig Richter – Rübezahl Appears to a Mother in the Form of a Charburner (1842)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – Rübezahl Appears to a Mother in the Form of a Charburner (1842)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – (Title Unknown) (1)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – (Title Unknown) (1)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – (Title Unknown) (2)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – (Title Unknown) (2)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – (Title Unknown) (3)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – (Title Unknown) (3)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – (Title Unknown) (4)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – (Title Unknown) (4)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – (Title Unknown) (5)

Adrian Ludwig Richter – (Title Unknown) (5)

Wikipedia: Adrian Ludwig Richter

Happy New Year!


Alexander Gulyaev – New Year

Andre Henri Dargelas - New Year's Day

Andre Henri Dargelas – New Year’s Day

Cherri Wood - Happy New Year

Cherri Wood – Happy New Year

Cherri Darling (Cherri Wood’s blog – it features a LOT of her art.)

Corwin Corax - New Year's Firefly

Corwin Corax – New Year’s Firefly

Elizabeth Bem - Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!

Elizabeth Bem – Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!

Sergei Dunchev - On New Year

Sergei Dunchev – On New Year

Tatiana Deriy - New Year's Fairy Tale

Tatiana Deriy – New Year’s Fairy Tale

ArtRussia: Tatyana Deriy

Walter Molino - New Year Begins

Walter Molino – New Year Begins

And the best for last . . . Illustrator J.C. Leyendecker, like his contemporary Norman Rockwell, was best known for his numerous covers for the Saturday Evening Post. While Rockwell may be the more famous of the two (though I’d say not by much), I personally prefer Leyendecker’s work to Rockwell’s. He did several of the new year’s covers which always featured Baby New Year in some amusing vignette that frequently referenced events of the time. A few of these even broke from the tradition of portraying Baby New Year as a boy, and so these are apropos to this blog:

J.C. Leyendecker - Cover for The Saturday Evening Post, December 30th, 1911

J.C. Leyendecker – Cover for The Saturday Evening Post, December 30th, 1911

J.C. Leyendecker - Cover for The Saturday Evening Post, January 1st, 1916

J.C. Leyendecker – Cover for The Saturday Evening Post, January 1st, 1916

Wikipedia: J.C. Leyendecker

American Art Archives: J.C. Leyendecker