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A Pinhead for H.H.

"A Pinhead for H.H." is copyright  1998 by James G. Mundie. All rights reserved.  Reproduction prohibited.

Pen and ink, 9.5 x 7.5 inches, 1998
Collection of Samantha Hewit Fruchtman

The subject of this painting is based on a portrait by Hans Holbein. However, the subject here is not some member of the English court but rather a cheerful microcephalic, or "pinhead" as they are known.

Pinheads were often favorite and staple performers on the sideshow circuit for their diminutive size, strange appearance, and child-like manner. The tiny cranium was accentuated by shaving the head and leaving a small tuft of hair at the top — a look that was later adopted by the character Bert on Sesame Street. Several pinheads were featured as characters in director Tod Browning's infamous film Freaks (1932). The most famous of these performers was Schlitzie (Simon Metts), who worked on the sideshow platform well into his seventies, though was always referred to as “she”.

This pinhead wears a charming rabbit-bedecked frock as an homage to the squirrel held by the lady in the Hans Holbein painting that served as inspiration. I tried a squirrel pattern at first, but the bunnies seemed more fitting.




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All Images and Text James G. Mundie 2003 - 2010