Girl with a Balloon” painted on a London wall by UK street artist Banksy, which describes a child letting go or reaching for a heart-shaped balloon with the words “There’s always hope,“ was voted England’s most popular image. Meanwhile, a statue stands on Wall Street by popular demand called “Fearless Girl” by Kristen Visbal, which describes a child challenging the male-dominated world of finance. Can a connection be drawn between these two crowd-pleasing little girls bearing big messages? Does the similarity of age and gender suggest a new trend in figure art?

Girl talk

And if there is a connection, was the use of a message-bearing missy begun a century ago by Giorgio Di Chirico? I’m thinking of his painting "Melancholy and mystery of a Street,” which likewise features a pixie, this time rolling a hoop down a deserted street edged by empty buildings casting long, forbidding shadows. Did his street of dreams anticipate the tykes by Banksy and Visbal? De Chirico’s picture title suggests that fatal flaw of modern life -- stand-aloneness -- the very theme of “Fearless Girl” and “Girl with a Balloon." Did “Melancholy and Mystery of a Street” unwittingly predict the imagery of little lasses standing tall in the face of adversity?

In your dreams

Another of De Chirico’s paintings seems to make the point.

Disquieting Muse” describes a statue of a male figure with a light bulb for his head, along with a statue of a female figure with a door knob for a head. In his “Memoirs of Giorgio de Chirico,” the artist wrote that if we go beyond logic, we “enter the regions of childhood visions and dreams.” But his idea of dreams turned out to be more than fantasy.

While in the U.S. he got word that his mother died in Paris, which, it turned out, he already knew from an apparition that came to him in his sleep.

Telling the future

In the dream, he saw his mother as he knew her in childhood. Then, all of a sudden, she turned old and frail: “I saw my mother pass like a shadow near the apse of a little church, come up to the side door and then disappear.” He woke up weeping, fearing his mother had passed away at the very moment she disappeared in his dream.

Her death was confirmed by his brother, and when he checked the time of her end, allowing for the difference in time between Europe and the U.S., he saw that his dream of her expiring occurred at the same moment he saw in sleep. He became a believer in dreams. And if we move past logic to the child's world of dreams as De Chirico suggested, we might see “Fearless Girl” and “Girl with a Balloon” as historic inevitabilities.