The original version of this image, reproduced as a print well in excess of half a million times over several decades (in addition to other media such as coffee mugs, wallpaper, etc.), is to go to auction in March. The price it will bring is expected to reach as high as £500,000. Vladimir Tretchikoff, the artist who produced Chinese Girl, paid his model, Monika Pon, “about £6 for six weeks of sittings before an audience of his art students.” Considered kitsch by most critics, the equivalent of paintings of poker-playing dogs or even Thomas Kinkade’s execrable sea-scapes, Chinese Girl immediately raises the issue of reproducibility, of what happens to an image when it becomes ubiquitous.
The British Museum has just opened an exhibition on Ice Age art. Among the artifacts on display is this roughly 27,000 year old object, carved from mammoth ivory, apparently “the oldest known portrait of a woman”: