The recent publicity over Bill Henson has prompted me to explore this theme earlier than I had planned, but this will be the last, at least for now. This blog will cover much more than this relatively minor subject (so minor I wonder what all the fuss is about).

The core problem is that moral conservatives associate nudity with sex and any image of a naked child must and can only be viewed as pornographic. This is nonsense of the highest order. Since classical times the body of the child has been represented as a thing of beauty. This tradition has continued into the modern era.

David by Donatello

It is hardly surprising that photographers would wish to continue this long established tradition. One of these photographers is Jock Sturges and one of his principle subjects/models is Misty Dawn. (Was Sturges thinking of Donatello when he took this image?)


Jock has photographed Misty since she was three years old and continues to photograph her today (making it a 27 year collaboration). The photos above and below appear in ‘Misty Dawn: Portrait of a Muse.’ (pg 9 and 155 respectively).

Misty Dawn, 2007

The moral conservatives like to claim that photographers such as Sturges have sinister motives, that they are exploiting their subjects. But what can they say when the photographer continues to collaborate with a model over a lifetime? And what does Misty say about their relationship? Here are her own words from Notes by Jock Sturges, pg 85-86.

pages: 1 2

4 Responses to The Naked Child in Art: Misty Dawn

  1. daddy says:

    my own daughter is not ashamed of her body either; she is 15 and swims naked in our pool and she intends to keep doing so: her mom and i agree and suport her decision. not a thing wrong with children posing nude.

  2. The Shadow says:

    I agree, we were all born naked. I don’t see why we should stop!
    After all – it IS called naturism

  3. Tom says:

    I can see why the first photograph reminded you of Donatello’s David. You’ve mentioned semiotics in other places. Understand, I think the Donatello is a beautiful piece, and part of its beauty is its homoerotic appreciation for an adolescent’s naked body. But the flowered hat and the grizzled head removed from its body are pretty unequivocal signs of desire. The rock in the Misty Dawn photograph, if the resemblance to the David isn’t an accident, would be the head.

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