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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 were known on the stage.

Pinheads were often favorite performers on the sideshow circuit for their diminutive size, strange appearance, and child-like manner. The tiny cranium was often 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 (born Simon Metts or Metz, 1901-1971), who worked on the sideshow platform well into his seventies, though he was always referred to with the feminine pronoun. Schlitzie was described by those who worked with him as an affectionate and sociable person who loved to be the center of attention.

This pinhead wears a charming rabbit-bedecked frock as an homage to the squirrel held by the lady in the Hans Holbein painting.

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All Images and Text James G. Mundie 2003 - 2018