An absolutely unique surviving Georgian straw work doll from the 1800 to 1820 period. This small little doll represents the famous comic servant character of Harlequin (Zanni) from the 17th century Italian masked comedy Commedia dell'arte. This rare doll most likely purchased as a theatrical souvenir during a Grand Tour. Harlequin of course always characterized by his mask, checkered clothing and carrying his 'batte' or 'slapstick' the tall magic wand that he waved to change the stage during the play. As the Harlequin character developed (made famous by Martinelli) and became popular throughout Europe during the 18th century he was seen in 18th century pantomime role paired with the Clown character (made famous by the English actor Joseph Grimaldi 1778 –1837).
Our small animated doll was naively made as you would expect from peddlers selling their souvenir wares. However, the detailing is superb and the natural materials have survived superbly well. This little Harlequin has a strong possibly wire frame which is wrapped in strips of straw plait and colored paper. The wrapped limbs secured with bound red wool. The Harlequins coat skirt woven in straw plait with a plaited paper edge. A vertical ribbon of woven gold metal strip thread decorates his body and has been used as a cockade to his straw plait hat. His head is made from padded linen. His mask made of black bitumen over canvas has three silk stitches for his eyes and mouth. He carries his slapstick with a small straw plait woven basket attached. He stands on his original hand painted harlequin card base. This has been later applied to a hardwood stand because he was displayed under a glass dome. Sadly the original glass dome was missing when we purchased him, we will include a modern replacement glass dome and brass effect base - seen in the images.
We cannot find an identical harlequin doll; the closest we can find is a straw 18th century doll in The Met Museum and corn husk dolls at The Rochester Museum and Science Center.
Size: Actual doll 4.75" tall by 2.5" wide (elbow to elbow). Height of doll including turned wooden stand 6.25". Height of modern glass dome/stand 8.25", diameter of base 4.25".
Condition: This doll is ancient and so please do not expect perfection. There is general darkening to the straw plait, dust accumulation, wear to the edges of the colored paper, dulling to the metal thread (traces of the original gold can be seen in crevices). The mask has dried and flaked a little. But he is adorable and perfectly strong and sound, keeping him in the glass dome will preserve him further.
FREE World Air Shipping, fully trackable - we do not ship to PO Boxes. Please note that if you would like the modern glass dome, it will ship in a separate box to the doll.
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