Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Art of Play: The Grace Fraser Wax Doll, 1830-1850

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made in Italy between 1830 and 1850, this doll with a cream silk band around its neck represents an infant seated upon a red throne. The doll is a work of poured wax (the shoulders, head and hands), with a stuffed cloth torso. Beneath the torso, from a cone of card, feet protrude, however, there are no actual legs. The doll features blue glass eyes and rolls of white wool hair.

This figure, dressed in a patterned cream silk, is adorned with silver braid, sequins and a glass circular paste jewel. It holds in its right hand a bouquet of artificial flowers and in its left, an orb of pale blue silk with a gold braid cross, suggesting that this might be meant to represent the Christ Child.

The doll is encased in a rectangular wooden box which is tapered to offer perspective. The rear of the box is papered in blue silk with a floral pattern. Painted details hint at a landscape ornamented by pedestals and flowerpots with blooms of cream and orange tissue.

More so meant to be a work of art than a plaything, this doll has survived despite the loss of the front glass panel which was meant to protect it.

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