Friday, February 19, 2010

Dollmaking Fascination... Book Review and More

I've always loved dolls. Not only did I play with them for the longest time as a child (probably way into the time I should have rather been interested in boys...) I also collected several for a good part of my life -you know the kind that you pick-up in every new country or place you visit? I'm particularly fascinated by antique dolls-considering the whole art history factor. Truly, I love all kinds of dolls; baby dolls, barbie dolls, cut-out dolls- you name it!

But to tell you the truth, the obsession went quiet for awhile- except for those reminders that are constantly left about the house by my eight year-old. It's only after having read Christine Trent's charming novel,

that my interest was once again peaked. Her book is all about a dollmaker's journey in the 18th c. There is so much detail on the whole process, such that it made this book a fascinating read for me. 

See my review here- and for a GIVEAWAY of THE QUEEN'S DOLLMAKER check that out here!

So, I figured I'd look up one of my favourite doll books:

and enter it in the Art History Reading Challenge

 Not only is this book extremely interesting, it's also filled with the most detailed photographs of dolls in history.  Due to its rather large format, 14 x 10 approx., it's possible to relish in the most exquisite almost life size photos of the creations.  There are so many photos of different periods in this book to satisfy any doll afficionado and art historian alike.  A word of caution though, I believe this book to be superb in terms of photography, but the information does not appear to be thorough in terms of both historical accuracy and depth (I have found a few discrepancies).  But- if you're willing to overlook this for the sake of completely abandoning and  losing yourself in immense beauty in creation- this book is tops in terms of photography.  Not only are the dolls fabulous, you have to see the dollhouses! Such incredible detail, especially in the Victorian homes.

And speaking of Victorian, did you know that Queen Victoria owned over 130 dolls and dressed about 30 of these on a regular basis (her governess dressed the rest;)

In this book I found this precious queen Victoria doll: (click to enlarge..she's gorgeous!)

This one was actually created by the Pierotti family (This family even makes an appearance in (The Queen’s Dollmaker). Domenico Pierotti came from Italy and supposedly when he once went to England for a visit, he had such a bad trip going that he decided to settle there rather than make the trip back to Italy.  Whatever the case, it's from then on, in England in late 18th c, that this Italian family would become renouned for their wax dolls.
Here is another of the Pierotti Family creations appearing in this book: (again, click to enlarge:)

In the early 19thc, Napoleon Montanari, born in (where else would someone with a name like that be born..) Corsica, set up shop in England with his British wife, Augusta.  They too became renouned for their real-life dolls- yet extremely expensive. So much so that Madame Montanari had a few rag dolls also created in order to satisfy the tastes and pockets of the proletariat.

Here is a photo of a Montanari doll taken from the Victoriana Site, 
Credit going to:  

Everyone can attest to the beauty of wax dolls, yet in the 18th c or earlier, it was wooden dolls that stole the show.  And, yes, in fact, Marie Antoinette really did love dolls.  There is apparently a doll at the Salisbury and South Museum  that reportedly belonged to Marie Antoinette while she was imprisoned.

Of all the wooden dolls I've ever read about or seen, I believe the most famous and beatifully detailed, withstanding the test of time are most definitely Lord and Lady Clapham- made in the late 17th -early 18th c:

So, as you can see this whole dollmaking business has really enraptured my senses.  I've since been looking up sites on all sorts of dollmaking aspects.  I've come across a few I'd like to share with you.  Go check these out if you have a minute- I promise you will be thrilled with these artists' creations..


Raindrops on Roses Reborns  (This blog is run by my good friend Susie of All Things Royal)



Joanne said...

What a fun and informative post, Ms. Lucy! I happen to be right in the middle of reading The Queen's Dollmaker (so I didn't peek at your review yet), but it's charming and enjoyable so far. I love dolls, too, and wish I still had some of my childhood dolls.

Lucy said...

Hi Joanne:)I hope you're enjoying your read- filled with amazing doll stuff! Thanks for your comment:)

brokenteepee said...

Thank you - this was very interesting.
I won the Queen's Dollmaker elsewhere and it is in my TBR pile. Ms. Trent wrote me the most lovely note and inscription.
I can't wait to get to it!

Tea said...

Oh my! I've got to take time and enjoy all the information about dolls. This is truly wonderful. I also need to enter the contest.

BurtonReview said...

Cute post, Lucy!
I also have been a doll lover and doll collector for my entire life. Porcelain, Barbie's, and some antiques, they're everywhere freaking my husband out with their eyes that follow him. =)
I really would LOVE to have Susie's talent that she and her daughter share with making dolls, her dolls are so precious.

I am looking forward to reading Trent's book next month!

Svea Love said...

You always have such informative posts Lucy! I love how every doll is so unique, and beautiful in its own way.

Marie- LOL, my husband is freaked out about the dolls eyes following him too! It makes it even more fun to have dolls :)

Lucy said...

Hi Pricilla:) I'm so happy for you!

Tea- Head on over!

Marie:) You made me laugh with that comment about your husband...actually, when my eldest daughter read my post this morning, she emailed me to say: Oh No! Not that book on those terrifying dolls!! haha!!

Hey Muse:) Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed my post! Thanks:)

Arleigh said...

I did know that Victoria had many dolls and played with them growing up. In Victoria in the Wings by Jean Plaidy, she had a doll that represented her loved ones and would play act with them accordingly. Queen Adelaide sent her a big doll and she made it queen of the rest, which amused people around her because she actually didn't know at the time that she would grow up to be queen.

Lots of great info and photos Lucy!

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

I love, love, love dolls! I have a collection (mostly porcelain dolls) of around 40 dolls. When I get a decent camera, I'll have to post some pics on my blog. I've had to curtail expanding my collection because I need more room for my books...LOL!

I really want to win The Queen's Dollmaker. I'm sending out the vibes for a win on the giveaway (which I already entered)! Have a great weekend Lucy!

Morgan said...

I've always loved dolls and I love the ones you posted. I feel like they all have a story behind them. And I have not read The Queen's Dollmaker but I will read your review of it.

Lizzie said...

My grandma used to make dolls and they were so beautiful. She made porcelain ones. What a lovely post Lucy you know I can not resist anything artsy or crafty.

Have you ever seen the Japanese styled Barbie dolls that are fairy tales? They are so pretty.

Love the post Lucy a favorite.

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone, I feel like I'm chiming in quite late here! Let me be another one to say that I have a doll collection that freaks my husband out, too. Right now they're all packed away, as he is building me new doll cases to go in our library. However, they used to be all crammed together on shelves in our guest room, and I also had doll pictures all over the room (framed pictures from an antique doll calendar). My husband referred to it as our "Bride of Chucky" room. LOL!

Lucy, this was a really wonderful post. Perhaps I should have had you do all of the research for my book. :)

Note to readers: the Clapham dolls are the type of fashion dolls I talk about in THE QUEEN'S DOLLMAKER.

Christina / Book Addict said...

Really interesting post! I enjoyed it! I also wanted to let you know that I gave your blog an award! Check it out here:

Unknown said...

Awesome post Lucy. I haven't collected many dolls but I loved getting to see some of the beautiful pictures.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a wonderfully enjoyable and informative post.

Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

I didn't realize that MA was supposed to have had an actual doll that she kept with her during her imprisonment! I learn such good little facts here, Lucy! That is fascinating. Especially because it makes the plausibility of Christine's book even stronger - since she had MA keep the Lamballe doll with her in her imprisonment, too! I wonder if that's where Christine got the idea for that part...

Anonymous said...

Actually, Allie, that was news to me, too. I made up the idea that Marie Antoinette had a doll in imprisonment with her. Or so I thought. Isn't it amazing when fiction dovetails with fact?

I'm pretty sure, though, that whatever doll the queen had in prison with her, it wasn't a replica of the Princesse de Lamballe. Although if someone finds out that it was, I'll faint. :)

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

What a good post! While I enjoyed reading about the book, I have to admit I have never been a fan of dolls.... they kind of creep me out.

One of my good friends however adores them and when I seen this doll book, I thought of her.