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Friday, December 21, 2012

Pandora 18th century fashion mannequin or religious figure?

While on the topic of 18th century fashion mannequins I have often wondered about this rather forlorn lady.
I found this photo on flickr ages ago and wondered about her. 
She may have been a religious figure rather than a fashion mannequin but she always intrigued me and I felt a little sad at her get up. 
I wanted to take her home and dress her properly. 
I am a soft touch for waifs - even dolls.
She looks like she may have a wax face (over a wooden base) rather than a straight carved wooden face. I suppose it could even be plaster, it's a bit hard to tell.
And her poor wig is a bit sub-optimal, isn't it! I hope she has found a good home.

Then there is this rather beautiful legless lady. 
Her tumbling locks do not particularly suggest a french fashion doll but she is certainly lovely.
There is something about her that makes me think of Italy and she is listed as being 18th century. 
Those of you who have made stays will likely know which era they look to be.
Perhaps the lack of legs is because she never had any but rather a cage as many religious figures do.

I also stumbled upon another intriguing mannequin at Packwood House near Warwick, this time from the 19th century. Experts believe this one was used by artists as a body double for aristocratic sitters. Using the mannequin for the pose meant less time for the sitter to fidget. The mannequin is remarkably detailed and will only move just as humans do. She is jointed down to her finger tips! So it was certainly designed and crafted solely to mimic human postures.

There is something fascinating about these figures whatever their origins. 

Photos of the lady with the crown by David Zellaby.


  1. I think the lovely half-lady might be from the 17th century instead, her stays look extremely long and shield-like in the front, and looks to curve outward at the bottom, so I would hazard a guess at 1600s (but I'm by no means an expert!).

    1. Thankyou for that Annabelle. I kept feeling (rather than having anything definite to go on) it looked earlier than the 18th century but I have very little knowledge of the subject so it was just a feeling. I think she reminds me of some artwork from the 17th century period but I can't put a finger on it. Glad it's not just me!