Friday, November 6, 2009

What is a Columbian Doll?

Okay, I have to say right now! My painted doll was already painted before I looked up information on varnished painted dolls.

What is a Columbian doll? Well, unbeknownst to me, my baby is a close rendition.

Emma and Marietta Adams of Oswego NY created the Columbian doll at the turn of the 1900 century. Emma, who was trained in art, wanted a sturdy doll children could handle easily. She started constructing dolls stuffed with cotton and excelsior, they also had head and torso cores made from sawdust. Emma had a distinctive style of painting choosing every doll's feature carefully, she did portrait and decorative. The dolls had flat faces, oil painted brushwork with unique hair. Trompe l'oeil shoes and painted stockings. Are you familiar with those shoes? I googled it, it is french meaning, realistic. Go figure.

Marietta designed and sewn the clothing.
In 1893, Emma an Marietta's doll exhibited at the Columbia Exposition, Chicago Illinois world's fair. The Columbian commission awarded a diploma of honourable merit to the doll (which sold many) and to Emma. Many doll designers try to emulate Emma's technique of personality and detail. She choose 2 colors with black and white. Burnt sienna, which was mixed with black to create the brown line work and shading, and rose madder, which was mixed with white to foster the luminous pink complexion. Yellow ochre for blond hair and then the individual eye color.
The hair had large brush stokes that implied texture, the mouth was squarish with a small dip on the upper lip...all but babies, their lips showed only as a rectangular.

The nose had small nostrils with a y shaped shading leading to, but not touching, the upper lip.

The eyes were almond shaped, no lashes and big irises with big pupils. This was the simplicity of the doll that attracted children.

Eventually, Mrs ER Horton, Boston, International Doll Collection found herself in admiration of Emma and Marietta's talents, she insisted the "Queen of her collection" tour the world wide. So the Columbian doll circumnavigated the earth returning with gifts from many moved fans and news clippings from her places of visit. The doll traveled with her trunk, diary, coat, and bonnet. She also had a double in case something happened. The tours raised large funds for children's charities. A repeat tour took place in 2000. The actual baby can be seen at the Wenham Museum, Massachusetts.

In 1900 Emma passed away and her sister kept the doll business surviving and after she married several years later, she developed a stamp marking the newly made dolls who had hired artist that couldn't reproduce Emma's depth.

The doll was never patented. C&G Design


tina said...

Very neat looking dolls. The painting is realistic yet a bit surreal. Tromp l'oeil is used in gardens often. It is a way of creating a visual feature that does not really exist. Like a gateway. You paint it so that the mind perceives there is a gateway there using perception. It is quite a skill, one I have not attempted to try.

Roses and Lilacs said...

The dolls are lovely. The faces, especially the eyes, are well done. They have that Victorian elegance.

Skeeter said...

Such interesting information today... Never heard of these dollies until now. Thanks for the history...

Jean said...

Very interesting and they are also very cute. She had a nack for sure.

Lorraine said...

I love Columbian dolls..they are on my "to try" list :o)..I saw your dollie in the other post, she looks lovely!!

CC said...

I love the dolls and the "fool the eye" Tromp l'oeil is always magical. I've seen murals done in such a way to give a room such depth that you will almost walk into a wall, it's so realistic. Your dolls are so pretty, you're doing such good work. I can't wait to see her all finished.

kanishk said...

The faces, especially the eyes, are well done. They have that Victorian elegance.
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