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Doll

1740-1750 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Although this 18th century doll looks looks as if she represents an adult woman, her clothing presents clues which demonstrate very clearly that she is not an adult. In the 18th century, dresses fastening at the back like this were for children, not women. Long streamers of matching fabric called 'leading strings' at the back of the dress indicate that she represents a teenage girl. Leading strings originated in the clothing of very young children, where they helped adults to assist the child who was learning to walk. In the 18th century they also became customary for unmarried teenage girls, perhaps to symbolise the fact that they were still under parental control.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Wood, with gesso, paint and varnish
Brief Description
Dressed wooden doll representing a teenage girl, made in England between 1740 and 1750
Physical Description
Dressed wooden doll representing a Caucasian teenage girl. She has a carved all-in-one head and torso, with inset fixed eyes of white and dark brown glass, and a human hair wig on a linen base. Her upper arms are of linen, with the lower arms and hands of wood, with leather open mittens; her legs are jointed at the hip and knee with wooden pegs, the calves covered with blue silk stockings, and the feet with mauve/ white/ silver cloth to represent shoes. Her non-removable clothes consist of a back-fastening yellow damask dress with leading strings, a petticoat of pale blue quilted silk, a petticoat of white linen with an embroidered binding at the hem, and a chemise; she also wears a linen cap and a 19th century pendant watch.
Dimensions
  • Height: 40.6cm
Credit line
Given by R. M. Gregory
Object history
Found among the effects of the donor's mother, and thought to have belonged to her great aunt, Polly Paul.
Summary
Although this 18th century doll looks looks as if she represents an adult woman, her clothing presents clues which demonstrate very clearly that she is not an adult. In the 18th century, dresses fastening at the back like this were for children, not women. Long streamers of matching fabric called 'leading strings' at the back of the dress indicate that she represents a teenage girl. Leading strings originated in the clothing of very young children, where they helped adults to assist the child who was learning to walk. In the 18th century they also became customary for unmarried teenage girls, perhaps to symbolise the fact that they were still under parental control.
Collection
Accession Number
MISC.271-1981

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record createdMarch 4, 2004
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