Thursday, February 2, 2012

Queen Anne's dolls

A jointed body and carved face decorated with stylized eyebrows and brightly rouged cheeks characterize the "Queen Anne" style dolls. English woodcarvers and craftsmen began making these dolls in the 1600s which continued through the 1840s. Affordable only to affluent families, the vast majority of Queen Anne dolls where owned by women, who dressed them in the fashions of the time.

The dolls painted almond shaped eyes, changed to glass and porcelain in later years and limbs came to be made of fabric or leather. Some reports note that fewer than thirty 17th century Queen Anne dolls have survived.
Collectors call the wood dolls from England from the 18th and early 19th centuries "Queen Anne" dolls, which is somewhat confusing, since Queen Anne's reign ended in 1714! These dolls, in good to excellent condition, are extremely rare, and cost from about $1,500 for an early 19th century doll, to over $40,000 for dolls made in the late 17th century (very few have survived-less than 30 by some reports).

They are distinguished between each other by the general style of the eyes, body, arms, and legs. In addition to the true antiques, there are many modern craftsmen in Britain and the US who enjoy making Queen Anne reproduction dolls. Some of these reproduction dolls are signed and dated by the crafters but unfortunately many modern Queen Anne style dolls are not signed due to the modesty or ignorance of the doll maker rather than an attempt to defraud collectors by offering fakes since there is typically no attempt to distress the wood to make it look old.

These dolls have carved faces with inset dark glass eyes and occasionally painted eyes. The eyelash and brows were detailed with dots. The large black spots on the faces emulate "beauty spots" which were fake moles that women applied to their skin - the height of fashion at the times. They had cloth upper arms too. 
Looking at the torso of this Queen Anne we can see that the body was roughly turned on a lathe to give it the basic symmetrical shape. Then the hip area was flattened and grooves were cut.

The "chicken beak looking nose" looks as if was applied to the face as a little wedge of wood, and then shaped. The facial features were shallowly carved, and optional glass eyes were embedded. Then the whole thing was covered with gesso to seal the wood and painted.

They ave wooden tongue and groove joints, with wooden pegs at the knees and the hips. The lower legs are thin with roughly shaped feet without toes. The "fork fingered" lower arms were attached with cloth or leather, and the legs were carved and attached with pegs.

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