Christmas in July Special: Emshwiller, Bunch and ‘A Little Girl’s Xmas in Modernia’

Ed Emshwiller—known affectionately as Emsh—is one of those names that only fans of classic science fiction and fantasy will probably be familiar with, but within that community the artist held some prestige.  He is most known for doing pulp magazine covers and interior art, particularly for Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  When one thinks of sci-fi art of the 50s and early 60s, it is probably Emshwiller’s style that comes most readily to mind.

David R. Bunch was a science fiction and satirical writer who is best known for a series of short stories set on Moderan, an Earth analogue world where everything has become largely mechanized, including the people of Moderan themselves, and those people live inside giant computerized structures called Strongholds which are at perpetual war with each other.  Bunch wrote dozens of these stories, most of which have been collected in the Moderan volume and in various science fiction anthologies.  One of these stories, A Little Girl’s Xmas in Moderan, was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (though it was retitled A Little Girl’s Xmas in Modernia, probably due to some copyright conflict with the name Moderan).  It became the cover story for that issue, with cover art from Emshwiller.

It is a strange story told from the point-of-view of a kindergarten-age girl—known only as Little Sister in the story—one of the few citizens of Moderan who hasn’t yet become a cyborg and thus retains her full humanity.  Bunch contrasts her nicely against her father, who is almost entirely machine at this point and, although fully sentient, has essentially lost touch with what made him human in the first place, including being a father to his two children.  The entire family—father, mother, son and daughter—each live in their own house with robot servants to attend their every need.

The Moderan series was an early representative of the New Wave of science fiction, which completely revolutionized the genre, but today Bunch and his Moderan stories have mostly been forgotten.  One interesting aspect of Little Sister is that she spends much of the story completely naked, even in though it is the dead of winter.  I suspect this is to remind the reader that she is, indeed, fully human.  Like artists who use nudity symbolically to communicate the child’s vulnerability, Bunch utilizes Little Sister’s nudity to show that human beings are vulnerable, even emotionally, and yet, in comparison to being fully mechanized, this vulnerability may be preferable, because at least it is still human.

I am including here both the magazine cover and the original illustration.  Unfortunately, the latter is not quite as high quality as the former, but it should be sufficient.

Ed Emshwiller - The Mag of Fantasy & Sci-Fi (cover)

Ed Emshwiller – The Mag of Fantasy & Sci-Fi (cover)

Ed Emshwiller - The Mag of Fantasy & Sci-Fi (cover) (detail)

Ed Emshwiller – The Mag of Fantasy & Sci-Fi (cover) (detail)

Ed Emshwiller - A Little Girl's Xmas in Modernia

Ed Emshwiller – A Little Girl’s Xmas in Modernia

Apparently there are other Moderan stories which feature these characters, including one called A Little Girl’s Spring Day in Moderan (which, unfortunately, is not included in the Moderan collection).  As a treat for you all, I am going to include the full text of the story in this post!  Enjoy!


A Little Girl’s Xmas in Moderan

by David R. Bunch

It was in Jingle-Bell weather that Little Sister came across the white yard, the snow between her toes all gray and packed and starting to ball up like the beginnings of two snowmen. For clothing she had nothing, her tiny rump sticking out red-cold, and blue-cold, and her little-jewel knees white almost as bones. She stuck up ten stiff fingers, and she said, “Daddy! Something is wrong at my place! Come see!” She lisped a little perhaps and did not say it all as precisely as grownups, because she was just past four.

He turned like a man in the bottom third of bad dreaming; he pointed two bored eyes at her. Damn the kid, he thought. “What the hell deal has Mox got us into now?” he said. And he sang the little rhyme that made the door come open. Then as she stepped toward him he saw the snowballs on her feet. They were melting now, making deep furrows in the green rug spread across his spacious thinking room. The tall nap, like flooded grass now along little canals bending away from her feet, was speckled white here and there with crumpled paper balls. His trial plans and formulas peeped out like golf balls.

Coming back across the iron fields of nightmare that always rose to confront him at such times, he struggled to make the present’s puzzling moments into sense. Damn the kid, he thought, didn’t wipe her feet. All flesh, as yet – her own – and bone and blood, and didn’t wipe her feet. The snow melts!

He motioned her to him. “Little Sister,” he began in that tired dull-tinny voice that was his now, and must be his, because his larynx was worked all in gold against cancer, “tell me slowly, Little Sister. Why don’t you stay in your plastic place more? Why don’t you use the iron Mox more? Why do you bother me at all? Tell me slowly.”

“Daddy!” she cried and started to jig up and down in the fits that he hated so, “come over to my place, you old boogie. Something needs fixing.”

So they went across the big white yard to her place, past Mother’s place, with her snow-hurt limping and naked, and him lumbering in strange stiff-jointedness, but snug in a fire-red snuggie suit of fine insulation with good black leather space high-tops. Arrived at her place he whistled at the door the three sharp notes. The door moved into the wall and Mox the iron one stood sliding the iron sections of his arms up into one another until he had only hands hanging from shoulders. It was his greeting way. He ogled with bulb eyes and flashed his greeting code.

“What would you have done,” her father said, “if I had not come with you? You brought no whistle for the door.” Three sharp notes sprang at him from the normal holes of her head, and the heavy door rolled softly out of the wall until it shut them in the gay red-carpeted room with a Xmas tree – the father, the naked little girl and the iron Mox. And she was impishly holding the whistle between her teeth, grinning up at him. “I had it all along,” she said and dropped the whistle into the tall red grass of her room’s carpet.

She wiped the waning snowballs from her feet and sidled her icy-cold rump over toward the slits where the heat came through the wall, soft and perfumed like an island summer. Her knees turned knee-color again and her rump became no longer vari-colored cold. It became the nicest of baby-pink little-girl rumps, and she stood there a health-champion of a little miss, all flesh and bone and blood – as yet – pointing at an angle toward the ceiling. “The star!” she said. “The star has fallen down.” And he noticed that she was pointing toward the tree.

“What star?” he started to say, across the fog that always smelled like metal in his mind these last few years, and then he thought, Oh hell, she means the Xmas star. “You came across all that yard,” he asked incredulously, “to annoy me with a thing like that, when Mox – ?”

“Mox wouldn’t,” she broke in. “I asked him and asked him, but he wouldn’t. It’s been down since the fifteenth. You remember when those dumb students went home in their jets early and fast and broke the rules and shook the houses down. BOOM! and the star fell down. Just like that. Well, he’d just do silly when I asked him, like you just now saw him, just shake his arms up into his shoulders and ogle. Pretty darn dumb, if you ask me.”

“But what about your mother?”

“I asked her when I was over to her place, over a week ago. But she’s been too busy and tired. You know how Mama is, always having that plastic guy rubbing parts of her, that she says hurt, and jumping on the bed at any little thing. Sometimes I think that guy’s in love with Mama. What’s love?”

What?! What’s love? Should I tell you, did I know? Love is – is not an iron ceiling on a plastic . . . But – oh, never mind! Hell! – How’s her star?”

Twinkle twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a mama in the sky. Heard that on the programs advertising diamonds.”

“Just answer the questions. How’s her star?”

“Up real shiny, last I saw. But heck, Mama probably never even looks at her star, because that plastic guy – ”

“And Little Brother’s star?”

“Humph, Little Brother! Beat his star up about a week after we put ’em up. Said it was just what he needed for the rear end of his space tube. You know how Little Brother is about space.”

“And so yours is the only star that has fallen. Mother’s is still up, though she doesn’t have time to look at it, you think. Little Brother took his down in the interest of space. Yours just fell.”

“Daddy, where is your star, Daddy?”

He looked at her, and he thought, Damn these little girls. Always so much sentiment. And so schemy, too. He said, “I had Nugall store my star away. It’s somewhere with the tree, in a box. It interfered with my deep thinking. I’ve got to have entirely a bare room, so far as Xmas trees are concerned, for my deep thinking, if you don’t mind.”

For just a moment he thought she was going to get the sniffles. She looked at him, float-eyed, her face ready to buckle and twist into tearful complaint. But she held and stared at him more sternly, and he said, “Sure, I’ll fix the damned star for you. Drag me a chair over. And then I must rush right back to my place.” (Dangerous, this being together so much. And so old-fashioned. And besides, he had been really cooking on a formula when she burst in.) So he stood on the chair she dragged to him, and he fixed the frosti-glass star to its hook in the iron ceiling and he adjusted the star until it was almost impossible to tell that it wasn’t attached to the green plastic tree. Then he whistled at the door.

Just as he was passing through the opening, leaving, he felt something tug at a leg of the fire-red suit. Damn! It was she again. “What now?” he asked.

“Daddy!” she piped, “you know what, Daddy? I thought, what if we’d go over to Mother’s and Little Brother’s places, since it’s Xmas. And you’ve got on your red suit. Isn’t this a very special day? I’ve been hearing on the programs – ”

“No,” he said, “it isn’t a very special day. But if you want to – and you’d probably do a fit about it if you didn’t get to – come on.” So after she had put on a green snow suit, they trudged across the white yard, a strange study in old Xmas colors, and they stopped first at Little Brother’s place, who was just past five.

Dressed in a pressure suit and sturdy beyond all sense, from the weight lifting and vitamin taking and breakfast-of-champions eating, he wanted to know what the hell all the nonsense of a visit was about so early. And he let them know that Nogoff, his iron man, was taking care of everything at his place very well, thank you. Then he strode about in his muscles, sturdy beyond all meaning, and he showed them the new jet tube part he had hammered out of the star, and they left pretty soon from his surliness. On the way over to Mother’s place Little Sister suggested that she thought Little Brother thought too much about rockets and jets and space. Didn’t Father think so? Father agreed dully that maybe he did, he didn’t know, but really, could one ever think too much about rockets and jets and space?

As they walked along, over the yard to Mother’s place, she kicked up snow and chortled and laughed and told off-color jokes – she had heard them on the programs – almost like a normal little girl should. Father tracked dourly through the unmarked snow under the featureless gray sky and thought only how all this nonsense of walking so early was making the silver parts of his joints hurt, and before he’d had his morning bracer, too. Yes indeed, Father, for the most part, was flesh only in those portions that they had not found ways to replace safely. He held on grimly, walking hard, and wished he were back in his hip-snuggie thinking chair where he worked on Universal Deep Problems.

At Mother’s place they found her having one of her plasto-rubs from the plastic man, who did truly act a little odd about Mother. Do you suppose he wasn’t really all machine but was a man who had been replaced part by part until it was impossible now to tell where the man left off and the robot plastic began? Father worried about it for half a second and then dismissed it. So what if he was? What could he do to Mother? And what if he did, what would it matter? Mother – new alloys now in almost all the places.

Little sister yelled MERRY XMAS! at the top of her good flesh lungs, and Mother turned through the waist only, as though on a swivel in that portion, and Father coughed dry in the metal of his embarrassment.

“’Twas Little Sister’s idea,” he mumbled. “So sorry, Marblene. I guess Mox hasn’t been watching her programs right, her insisting on Xmas trees and all this year, and now the idea of a visit among the folks of the family. I’m sorry, Marblene.” He coughed again. “So out of date.”

Mother blazed at him from her very plain blue eyes that were almost all ‘replaced’ now. It was clear that she wished to continue her rub with the plastic man as soon as possible. “Well?” she demanded.

“That’s all,” he mumbled, “if Little Sister’s ready.” Then for some silly reason – he couldn’t explain it afterwards, unless it was because he wasn’t all ‘replaced’ yet – he said a silly thing, something that would obligate him months hence. “Do you – I mean, would you – I mean, could I,” he stammered, “could I see you a couple of minutes, maybe at Easter? Our places are just across the yard from each other, you know. Maybe when I’m all ‘replaced’ I won’t be able to walk.” He hated himself for pleading.

She airily tossed her left hand, and fluttered those fabulous ‘replaced’ plastic fingers, and great rays of light shot and quavered and streamed from rings of ‘moderne’ diamond. “Why not?” she said resignedly. “What’s to lose? If Jon’s through in time – ” Jon was her plastic man – “we’ll talk a bit on Easter.”

And so it was done, and over, and soon they were again outside in the yard. “I guess I won’t have to walk you back will I? You have your whistle, don’t you?” he said.

“No,” she said. “I dropped it in the red rug. I just remember I did. I heard it. It squished down in the wet. While the snowballs were melting. Maybe I could come to your place!”

Damn these little girls, he thought. So tricky. Always scheming. He’d have to start having her ‘replaced’ as soon as he could after Xmas.

“There’s nothing of interest at my place,” he hastened to say. “Just my hip seat and my thinking space and Nugall.” He didn’t see any use to tell her about Nig-Nag, the statue woman who wasn’t quite all metal, that he kept under the bed until he needed her so much that he had to . . . there were some things that you just didn’t tell a daughter, not until she was much older or well on the road toward being all ‘replaced.’ “Tell you what we’ll do,” he said. “I’ll walk you back to your place and I’ll whistle at the door and you can go in to Mox. Your star’s all fixed and everything. You’ve had quite a Xmas!”

So they walked back through the iron-cold snow to her place, under a sky that was rapidly thickening in a day turning black. And as her door glided open he felt so relieved that he stooped and kissed her on top of the head, and he tapped her playfully a little on her good flesh buttocks as she passed through the plastic entrance. When she was gone he stood there thinking a little while outside her house. Like an old man in the starting third of a good dreaming, he stood nodding, prompted perhaps by things from a time before the time of ‘replacements,’ wondering maybe if he had not paid some uncalculated and enormous price for his iron durability.

While he stood thus idly musing, a light high and wee came up suddenly – from eastward, from toward the coast airports – and moved fast down the murky sky toward him, gaining speed. Soon the countryside all around recoiled from a giant blow as the barrier burst. He heard Little Sister behind him scream and beg for him to come back, and he knew without looking that her star was off its iron hook again. Like some frightened monster eager to gain its lair he dug in harder with his metal feet and lumbered off across the yard to his place, anxious to rest again in his hip-snuggie chair, desirous to think further on Universal Deep Problems.

The light, unswerving, went on down the sky, high and wee, like a fleeing piece of star, like something for somewhere else in a great hurry.




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)

Little Whoopi Goldberg?

I can’t help it; it is in my nature to notice little things. I am always fascinated by Hollywood’s casting of children to represent the childhood version of some main character. Good casting requires that they not only have a close physical resemblance, but have something of the character of the particular actor. What struck me recently is that this has been done at least three times in films starring Whoopi Goldberg.

Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in 1955. It appears she early had ambitions to become an actress and changed her name to sound Jewish, figuring that would give her an edge in Hollywood. Goldberg is also a skilled comedienne and I am delighted to have some excuse to mention her on Pigtails in Paint.

(School Photo of Caryn Elaine Johnson)

(School Photo of Caryn Elaine Johnson)

One of her most imaginative roles was that in Sister Act (1992). Playing a casino singer called Doloris, she witnesses an execution conducted by her mobster boyfriend and must be sequestered until she can testify against him. A very clever hiding place was needed and so she poses as a nun in a financially-strapped convent where her natural singing talent finally transforms the place. In the beginning of the film, we see a flashback of her as a Catholic schoolgirl being asked to recite the names of Jesus’ twelve apostles. Her younger self (Isis Jones) has a wise mouth and instead of giving the expected answer, she offers the names of The Beatles.

Joseph Howard and Emile Ardolino - Sister Act (1992)

Joseph Howard and Emile Ardolino – Sister Act (1992)

In another role even further outside the box, Goldberg plays Lucy in the TV movie Call Me Claus (2001). It seems that every 200 years, a new Santa Claus must be recruited and trained. Lucy is destined to be the next one, but there is a catch. As a little girl (Tinashe Kachigwe), her Christmas wish to Santa was for her father to come home from Vietnam. Instead, the family returns home to learn that he was just killed and she has since been disillusioned about Christmas and the current Santa (Nigel Hawthorne) must convince her to embrace her destiny and take on this great challenge and opportunity.

Paul Mooney, Sara Bernstein, Gregory Bernstein and Brian Bird - Call Me Claus (2001)

Paul Mooney, Sara Bernstein, Gregory Bernstein and Brian Bird – Call Me Claus (2001)

The third example is not a flashback; in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called Rascals, a transporter accident somehow turns a handful of crew members including Guinan (Goldberg) into 12-year-olds (Isis Jones, again). Guinan is a mysterious character of indeterminate age who tends bar on the Enterprise and offers periodic wisdom to the crew. Goldberg accepted this role enthusiastically because Star Trek had a special place in her heart. The original series was cutting edge in many ways and perhaps one of the most significant was that a Black woman (Uhura played by Nichelle Nichols) played a starring role. Before then, Black women tended to play stereotypical subservient roles such as maids, cooks and nannies. Here Guinan and Ro (Michelle Forbes/Megan Parlen) discuss their predicament.

Gene Roddenberry, et al - Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rascals (1992) (1)

Gene Roddenberry, et al – Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rascals (1992) (1)

Another scenario worth mentioning on this episode is that another crew member, a botanist called Keiko (Rosalind Chao/Caroline Junko King) is married and her husband Miles (Colm Meaney) is in the awkward position of trying to be a supportive and comforting husband.

Gene Roddenberry, et al - Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rascals (1992) (2)

Gene Roddenberry, et al – Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rascals (1992) (2)

This little observation makes me wonder: is there some record as to which actor or actress has been portrayed as a child the most?

Lladró’s Beach Babes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lladró - 5488 Sandcastles (1988)

Lladró – 5488 Sandcastles (1988)

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

Lladró - 1483 Free as a Butterfly (1985)

Lladró – 1483 Free as a Butterfly (1985)

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

A Glamorous Bath: Léopold-Emile Reutlinger

I am delighted to inform readers that my friend Stuart has decided to share images from his extensive postcard collection.  I replaced images that were of poor quality and it is interesting to see the variations.  As more samples come in, they will be added. -Ron

There are a lot of charming images of girls in bath scenes. Most are just the spontaneous records of parents, but in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the cult of the child had a strong hold on the European psyche. So it stands to reason that many companies produced staged sentimental portraits of bathtime.

In my opinion, one of the most charming is a series produced by Atelier Reutlinger (Reutlinger Photography Studio) in Paris. When I first saw one of these on a sales site, I had no idea that they could fetch upwards of $50 each. I only managed to acquire one of the cheaper versions recently.

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (1)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (1)

Although this particular series (of perhaps a dozen poses) was probably shot by Léopold-Emile Reutlinger (1863-1937) himself, he was actually the third to run the studio. It was founded by Charles Reutlinger in 1850 and through the quality of his work, leveraged his way into the hearts of rich and famous people including models, actors and dancers who would have been instantly recognized in public. There are some charming examples of children as well—perhaps close relatives of other sitters.

Charles Reutlinger - An Angel in Paris (c1880)

Charles Reutlinger – An Angel in Paris (c1880)

In 1880, Charles handed over control to his brother Emile and ten years later it was passed on to his son Léopold. Being raised in Peru, Léopold was eager for the opportunity to run such an important enterprise and he introduced a number of innovations which became the hallmark of the studio name. By this time, it was postcards that kept photography studios and photographers financially afloat, so he made the company’s cards distinctive with meticulous hand-tinting and incorporating art nouveau overlays into the images to add visual interest. The studio was shut down in 1930 after Léopold lost an eye in an accident.

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1910)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1910)

Whether the images were proper portraits or soft erotica, they all conveyed a sense of glamour. This girl in various bath scenes may have been shot using some elegant props but none that I have seen had any art overlay and only some had hand-tinting. These are very hard to find, so I have been beating the bushes to find them or at least persuade collectors to share quality scans with us.

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (2)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (2)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1905) (3)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (3)

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (4)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (4)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1905) (4a)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (4a)

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (5)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (5)

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (6)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (6)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1905) (6a)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (6a)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1905) (6b)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (6b)

None of these images appear in any online collections, but if you want to see more Reutlinger productions, I recommend visiting Wonderings which also has links to other sites. I do have one other example that I had seen before I was aware that images could be copied from websites, so it is a bad second-hand copy from a printout I made. I hope someone will come forward with a better example of this image.

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (7)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (7)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1905) (7a)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (7a)

Because other bloggers may be a little leery about posting some of these because of the nudity, this is the ideal site for displaying them.  Therefore, I urge anyone owning any examples of this series to please come forward and send me some quality scans so they can be put on display here.  Pip can touch up most simple flaws that may exist in any specimens you may have.  Thank you, -Ron

Soviet Postcards, Part 7: Pravda Publishing

Most people conversant in world affairs is aware of the Soviet newspaper Pravda (“Truth” in Russian), but many may not have realized that it was a publishing and printing enterprise generally. In the late 1950s and 1960s, it issued an extensive series of photographic postcards featuring children presumably depicting the joys of Soviet life. Therefore, I offer five images for your consideration here.

The first two are photographs by A. Stanovova. I like the first one especially because the girl seems to epitomize light-hearted girlishness which is kind of iconic for this site. It’s title translates to “Friends”.

A. Stanovova - Друзья. (1962)

A. Stanovova – Друзья. (1962)

The second was issued earlier and translates to “Before the New Year”. Notice the careful avoidance of the word Christmas even though that seems to be holiday being portrayed. One of our readers offers an excellent explanation for this peculiar cultural development, so please read the comment at the end of this post for more details.

A. Stanovova - Перед Новым годом. (1958)

A. Stanovova – Перед Новым годом. (1958)

The next photo by Dmitri Baltermants is titled “Reconciled”.

Edit: I have made some slight adjustments to the name of the photographer.  Ron’s use of Dm. Baltermantsa was not incorrect, but the photographer, an important photojournalist in Soviet Russia, is generally recognized in the Anglo world under the name Baltermants.  Here is the Wikipedia page on him. -Pip

Dmitri Baltermants – Помирились… (1962)

I had at first thought the artist and caption was in Serbian (they use a Cyrillic alphabet also) as the title does not make much sense translated into Russian. The artist is L. Borodulina and the caption translates as “Tuzik, beg!”.  Again, one of our readers cleared up the confusion which you can read below.

L. Borodulina - Тузик, служи! (1962)

L. Borodulina – Тузик, служи! (1962)

The last is by V. Tyukkelya depicting these naked children clearly having fun. The caption is a Russian exclamation and does not translate perfectly, but something like “All Right!” or “Yahoo!” is about right.

V. Tyukkelya - Хорошо!(1958)

V. Tyukkelya – Хорошо! (1958)

And I Bring You . . . Falles

Catholicism is not without its raucous holidays and celebrations, with quite a few of them being largely local affairs.  The most prominent one in the U.S. is Mardi Gras, which has an analog in Brazil’s Carnaval.  Both are festivals of decadence and indulgence leading up to the weeks of fasting and austerity called Lent, and there are similar events throughout the realms of Catholicism.  Although celebrated around the same time, the Valencian holiday of Falles, which officially begins on March 15th (that’s right, it starts in only a few days) and ends on March 19th, is not associated with this cycle.

Basically, Falles (a Valencian word meaning ‘torches’) is a five-day-long outdoor party held in honor of St. Joseph in which each successive day is given over to progressively bigger and more involved pyrotechnic displays, culminating on the last evening, the Night of Fire, with La Cremà.  This final spectacle is where the holiday gets its name, for during La Cremà immense wood, paper, wire and paint constructions–the falles themselves–are set alight in the streets and squares of Valencia.  What makes this so fascinating, I think, is that the falles aren’t the sloppily built towers of cheap wood you would expect them to be; no, they are in fact elaborately and carefully crafted sculptures planned, designed and constructed for months prior to Falles.  In fact, the appreciation of these disposable artworks has become an affair unto itself, with the casal fallers competing to be recognized for the best falla.

These sculptures are more often than not satirical or humorous in nature, sometimes even bawdy.  Nudity is not unusual, nor is ripping off famous or distinguished sources, which is where the satire comes in.  Keep in mind that, although there are toned-down versions of these for small children, called falles infantil, which are burnt earlier in the evening, children attend the burning of the falles major as well.

In 2013 one of the falles submitted for judgment was created by artist Manuel Algarra; it was titled Futuro a la vista! (Future in Sight!) and was a giant sculpture-in-the-round featuring toddlers engaged in a variety of occupations.  Although it was never identified as the inspiration for the piece, I immediately recognized one of the toddler figures as based on a J.C. Leyendecker-illustrated cover for the Saturday Evening Post.

J.C. Leyendecker - Saturday Evening Post - January 4, 1936 (cover)

J.C. Leyendecker – Saturday Evening Post – January 4, 1936 (cover)

I have since encountered another cover with one of the other babies–the boy with the cuckoo clock–as the central figure, and I discern, based on the consistency of their style, that all of them are actually based on Leyendecker’s work.  The final falles design can be seen in a flat conceptual form (I couldn’t find a larger version of this image, so if anyone out there has this just a bit bigger, it would be appreciated):

Manuel Algarra; J.C. Leyendecker - Futuro a la vista!

Manuel Algarra; J.C. Leyendecker – Futuro a la vista!

And here are photographs of the actual falles taken from a variety of angles:

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (1)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (1)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (2)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (2)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (3)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (3)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (4)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (4)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (5)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (5)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (6)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (6)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (7)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (7)

Although the following image focuses on a boy, I am sharing it because it really demonstrates the amount of detail that goes into the creation of these pieces.

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (8)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (8)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (9)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (9)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (10)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (10)

One can see in the background of this next photo, just behind the rocking horse, the standing pigtailed girl.  I tried to find a close-up image showing her from the front but was unable to locate one on the web.

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (11)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (11)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (12)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (12)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (13)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (13)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (14)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (14)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (15)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (15)

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:


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


And continuing the animal theme:


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.


Cute or provocative?  You be the judge.

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.

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.


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.

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

Victorian Christmas Assortment

This is just an assortment of Victorian-era paintings (and one sculpture).  I have nothing much to say here, so I’m just going to post the images . . .

Agathe Röstel – Am Weihnachtsmorgen (Christmas Morning)

David J. Jacobsen – Selling Christmas Trees (1853)

Bernhard Plockhorst – Martin Luther on Christmas Eve with His Family (1888)

Wikipedia: Bernhard Plockhorst

Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller – Christmas Morning (1844)

Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller – A Traveling Family of Beggars is Rewarded by Poor Peasants on Christmas Eve (1834)

Wikipedia: Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller

Hans Stubenrauch – Christmas Time

Henri Jules Jean Geoffrey – The Drop of Milk in Belleville: The Christmas Tree at the Dispensary (1908)

Joseph Clark – A Christmas Dole

Sophie Gengembre Anderson – Christmas Time – “Here’s the Gobbler!”

Wikipedia: Sophie Gengembre Anderson

The Famous Artists: Sophie Gengembre Anderson

William C. T. Dobson – Christmas Roses (1881)

Thomas Falcon Marshall – Christmas Morning (1865)

Franz Skarbina – Under the Christmas Tree (1892)

Wikipedia: Franz Skarbina

Maud Humphrey Bogart – Vintage Christmas

Jeanne Itasse – Sabot de Noël (Christmas Shoe) (1)

Jeanne Itasse – Sabot de Noël (Christmas Shoe) (2)

Girls, a Saint and a Norse Goddess: Carl Larsson’s Christmas Art

Despite having a pretty rough start (his parents were impoverished, his father reportedly hated him, and he had difficulty establishing himself in his early years as more modern styles were blossoming), Swedish artist Carl Larsson led something of a charmed life. As his family grew, so too did his popularity, and he became a regular contributor to many well-known magazines of the era, including Jugend.  His style is organic but clean; he even dabbled in sequential art, making him one of the the first Scandinavian comics creators.  Larsson and his stunningly attractive wife Karin, also an artist and designer, had eight children, whom Larsson adored profoundly (breaking the pattern of his cold and abusive father), making them the subject of much of his art. Holidays were a big deal at the Larsson household and there are several pieces by Larsson to attest to this.

Carl Larsson – Peasant Interior in Winter (1890)

Carl Larsson – Christmas Morning (1894)

Carl Larsson – Between Christmas and New Year (1896)

Iduna (alternately Idun or Idunn in anglicized form) is the Norse goddess of youth and the guardian of the golden apples which the gods consume to maintain their immortality.  Here Larsson’s daughter Brita portrays her for an image that was used for the 1901 Christmas issue of a magazine named for the goddess.

Carl Larsson – Brita as Iduna (1901)

Now this is a Christmas feast!

Carl Larsson – Christmas Eve Banquet (1905)

St. Lucy is one of the few saints celebrated in Scandinavia, and her day, December 13th, is associated with Christmas.  Traditionally, the eldest daughter in a family or an older girl in a village is selected to portray the saint, in which she is crowned with a headpiece bearing lights or candles, and then she leads a procession of younger sisters or other girls as they go about passing out candies or other treats to smaller children.  At least, that’s how I understand it. 🙂

Carl Larsson – St. Lucia Day – Christmas in Sweden (1908)

Carl Larsson – Christmas Break (1909)

Carl Larsson – Decorating the Tree

Carl Larsson – Greta Arnbom

Carl Larsson – Kersti’s Sleigh Ride

Carl Larsson – The Day Before Christmas

Wikipedia: Carl Larsson