Samstag, 24. Dezember 2011

MADAME MOLÉ-RAYMOND - pretty actress of the Comédie Française

“The Lady with the Muff”, the famous portrait of Madame Molé-Raymond, the pretty actress of the Comédie Française, is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Marie Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755 – 1842). Vigée Le Brun was a French painter, and is recognized as the most famous female painter of the 18th century. She served as a portrait painter to the French Queen Marie-Antoinette. The painting of Molé-Raymond (née Élisabeth-Félicité Molé - 1760-1833)was done in 1786, and bequeathed in 1865, by Mademoiselle Maurice Raymond, a daughter of the lady represented, to the Louvre in Paris, where it still hangs.

The painting of the laughing pretty woman, who wears a broad brimmed hat trimmed with a rosette and feather, holding up a huge muff with both hands buried in its depths, and long curling hair flying out in streamers, was an excellent object to create excellent half dolls. None of the half dolls was manufactured with a muff; probably it was left to the owner to take a piece of fur and to craft a muff for his/her doll.

More paintings by Vigée Le Brun can be seen at :

Ernst Bohne Söhne (Sons) of Rudolstadt/Thuringia manufactured the very best rendition of the lady in the painting, an amazing half doll made in excellent quality.  Even the shape of the face, the blushed cheeks, the brown eyes and the smiling mouth are similar to that of Molé-Raymond. The half doll measures an impressive height of 18 cm (7") - from base to top of the feather - and is unmarked.

This half doll representing Molé-Raymond was made by Dressel & Kister of Passau / Bavaria and is likewise a very good rendition. She has a hole in the brim of her hat for a feather made of porcelain and attached to the hat. The porcelain feather was not molded to the hat, but is removable. I have never seen any of this dolls with the original factory-made feather; usually it is "lost to the time". The half doll shows the tapered base to find on the majority of Dressel & Kister half dolls. The dolls need a (self-made) support to help them standing upright. She is of excellent quality, measures 10.5 cm (4.1") in height and is marked with the blue bishop's crozier.

Carl Thieme of Potschappel / Dresden made the fine quality half doll lady with pink hat, which is supposed to be a  portait of Molé-Raymond. The feather atop of her hat is turned to the right side, contrary to that in the painting and she doesn`t have the long floading hair, but a "short hairstyle".  The doll measures about 16 cm (6.3") in height (including the feather) and is marked in front of the base with an incised number. Carl Thieme produced a series of very fine half dolls, some of them based on the paintings by Vigée-Le Brun. These dolls will be introduced in a forthcoming post.

.... and a variation made in bisque porcelain. This "Molé-Raymond" half doll lady was made in fine bisque quality by A.W.Fr. Kister of Scheibe-Alsbach. This half doll was also made in china porcelain. Several manufacturers produced few of their dolls in both variations, bisque and china porcelain. The doll is unmarked and measures 14.5 cm (5.75") in height (including the feather).

Montag, 12. Dezember 2011


If there is a costume that symbolizes a region of France, it is well and truly the Alsatian costume.
However, this refers mainly to the traditional costumes of the Alsatian women, particularly their imposing headdresses, the distinctive “coiffes” = caps adorned with large bows. The “coiffes” are very decorative and most likely this was the reason that several German porcelain manufacturers created half dolls representing Alsatian women in their traditional costumes.
  • No. 1 is by A.W. Fr. Kister, 6.5 cm (2.5") tall
  • No. 2 is by Galluba & Hofman, 12.3 cm (approx. 5") tall. She wears a fringed scarf with fine painted pink roses and green leaves which creates the appearance of embroidery.
  • No. 3 is by Wm. Goebel of Oeslau/Bavaria, 11.5 cm (4.5") tall. Painting is done in blue delft style.  
  • No. 4 is by Wm. Goebel. She measures an impressive height of 16 cm (6.3"). The bracelet and necklace is not original to the doll.
  • No. 5 is by Fasold & Stauch, 11.2 cm (4.4") in height. The lady is holding a wine glass
The corselet which is laced in front is part of the traditional costume and  to find on all of the dolls. All of the dolls (except of no. 5) are holding a pink or red rose.

As per statement of various webpages on Alsatian traditional costumes:
The bow cap was always black for the Protestants; the headdresses of Catholics were often colorful and decorated with patterns. Also, the color of the bow cap reflected the state of its wearer (girl or woman, unmarried, married or widowed).

The Alsatian region is well known for its tasty local cuisine and its locally grown wines.

Samstag, 10. Dezember 2011


The half doll for the third Advent Sunday is a half doll covered with "snow" just like the cute porcelain figurines known as "snow babies". The photo shows the half doll along with a snow baby figurine, a girl with a snow-covered sweater sitting on a sled. These "snow" particles were made of crushed bisque, than applied to the surface of the figurine and fired.

The half doll girl is made in bisque porcelain by Galluba & Hofmann of Ilmenau / Thuringia. It is quite obvious that Galluba & Hofmann made the half doll from a mold of one of their full figurines. They molded the upper part of the body to a half doll base. The result is a very scarce half doll. The full figurine is pictured in the wonderful book by Mary Morrison: " BIG BOOK of SNOW BABIES "
Mary’s webpage can be found at:

The half doll girl with blonde curls carries a bundle of sticks upon her back. Her dress is partly covered with dark blue snow (looks black in the photos rather than blue). Other parts are covered with white snow which has darkened with the years. "Snow loss" is rather common to find on this figurines. The doll is unmarked and is 9.5 cm / 3.75” tall.


Sonntag, 4. Dezember 2011


My little grandson painted his wish list for Father Christmas. He would like to get many new toys, a fire department with a fire truck and fire fighters. Well, Christmas and TOYS for the children ..... A good idea to show a half doll lady with HER TOY.

This half doll depicts an Art Deco lady holding a Polichinelle or Punch. The little Punch doll is done with great care for lovely details. Too cute!

Polichinelle is a classical character that originated in the Commedia dell'Arte of the 17th century and became a stock character in Neapolitan puppetry.
Many regional variants of Pulcinella were developed as the character diffused across Europe. In Germany, Pulcinella came to be known as Kasper and in France Polichinelle, while in the United Kingdom he inspired the character of Mister Punch of Punch and Judy.

Nice photos of Polichinelle are to be seen at:

The half doll is made in excellent quality by Fasold & Stauch of Bock-Wallendorf / Thuringia, who was a prolific manufacturer of half dolls, powder boxes and bathing beauties. She is marked with an incised number beginning with 6xxx at the backside of the base; unfortunately two digits are pierced and illegible. This doll measures 12.5 cm (5”) in height. It was made in two sizes.

Sonntag, 27. November 2011


We call the four Sundays leading up to Christmas “Advent Sundays”. Today we celebrate the first Advent Sunday. For the next three Sundays I planned to post one half doll matching the topics “Christmas” and “Winter”.
It`s time for the Christmas baking! delicious cookies, biscuits, gingerbread and cakes or a Christmas Stollen. Yummy!
My Dutch half doll lady already started with the Christmas baking. She baked a cake. One slice of her cake is missing. Obviously she couldn’t resist. This half doll was made by A.W.Fr. Kister of Scheibe-Alsbach/Thuringia. She wears a big winged pale blue Dutch cap. The doll is unmarked and measures 8.7 cm (3.5”) in height. 

Donnerstag, 24. November 2011


I decided to post a lovely half doll lady who certainly would fit to this festive day.
She holds a tray with two delicious cakes, two biscuits and blue grapes.
The half doll was made by A.W.Fr. Kister of Scheibe-Alsbach/ Thuringia and is marked with an incised *D482*, height: 14.5 cm (5.75”).


I had the chance to come across a reprint of an old French fashion plate. Surprisingly the lady in the print is a likeness to my half doll. She was made by Gebr. (Bros.) Heubach of Lichte/Thuringia.
The print reads:
MODES PARISIENNES, Regne de Louis XVI, d’apres Debucourt 1787
Paris fashion, reign of Louis XVI (King of France and the husband of Queen Marie Antoinette … the King and the Queen were guillotined), after Debucourt 1787
The half doll is dressed in the fashion of 1787, but she was made about 1920-1930. She wears a huge green hat adorned with a floral wreath and holds a big fan decorated with floral ornaments. The doll is made in excellent quality and marked with incised  *10507* at the backside, 14.5 cm (5.75”) in height. 

Samstag, 19. November 2011


This half doll was made by the Aelteste Volkstedt around 1920-30.
She is marked inside the base with the painted blue mark of the Aelteste Volkstedt 
at the backside. The doll is glazed except of the base, which is left unglazed. Height is: 12 cm / 4-75"

BEWARE! Copies/Reproductions of this Volkstedt doll made their appearance on eBay and the collectors` markets a few months ago. Sometimes they were offered as “repro dolls”, but unfortunately sometimes they are showing up as antique German half dolls. The copies are originating from Belgium and are to be seen in the websites of the Mundial Company from Belgium (Poupees & demi figurines – HR 316-1, 316-2 and 316-3). The copies are executed with grey, red and brown painted hair.

Montag, 14. November 2011


Half dolls depicting old or elderly ladies are very scarce. There are only a few "old half doll ladies" known to me.  I would like to show you two of these old women. Both are simply lovable grandmothers (or in German saying “Großmutter or Oma”).  Both are wearing a headscarf. Wearing a headscarf was a common thing in Europe, particularly in the rural areas. It was conform to fashion and the prevailing social conventions and it was favored by the elderly ladies. A headscarf in black, colored, often with magnificent embroidery, was part of the traditional national costumes.
Old age is not a disease - it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses (Maggie Kuhn).

This charming grey-haired lady enjoys a cup of tea or coffee. The doll is made in bisque by Bruno Schmidt of Waltershausen. She holds a cup and a saucer. The old lady is nicely modeled with wrinkles and dimples and a smile in her face. The green dress is glazed, other parts are left unglazed. Her hands are not fine and delicate but formed by a hard and busy life. She is marked with incised number 3382. Height is 12 cm (4.75”). 

The old woman with folded hands is made by Galluba & Hofmann of Ilmenau / Thuringia. She is made in bisque and painted in shades of brown The painting looks blurred and washed out, possibly to create the appearance of carved ivory. The doll is marked with incised 9?19 and is 8.5 cm (3-1/3”) tall.

Samstag, 12. November 2011


Galluba & Hofmann was founded in 1888 in Ilmenau / Thuringia. The manufactory produced porcelain figurines, vases and other ornamental decoration objects in a high quality and on a high level. In a short time the company experienced an economic upswing. They predominantly produced porcelain for the export to France and the United States. Only a minority of their porcelain products was sold in Germany.  In 1900 the company attended the World Exposition in Paris/France. Their artistic decorated porcelain watch won the “Mention honorable”. This increased the sales of the Galluba & Hofmann products in France. The heyday of Galluba & Hofmann ended with begin of World War I (1914-1918) when their export business started to crumble. German porcelain was no longer requested  in France and United States. Galluba & Hofmann´s slowly come-down in the 1920ies ended in a bankruptcy caused by the world economic crisis in 1929. The company had to cease their production. The owners did not have success with establishing their products in Germany. Today many of their figurines are much sought after by collectors due to their quality. Art Deco figurines, bathing beauties, half dolls, snow babies (even a “snow baby half doll”) to name a few.
The photo is introducing several  half dolls made in China porcelain (not the country, but the material).  Galluba produced as well very fine half dolls in excellent bisque quality.

Donnerstag, 10. November 2011

Louise “LULU” Brooks – epitome of an American flapper girl

Mary Louise Brooks was born in Cherryvale, Kansas on November 14, 1906. She started her career as a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway before becoming an actress of the silent film era. She became known mostly for her bobbed glossy “black helmet” hair style. Thousands of women were attracted to that style and adopted it as their own. Louise was a style icon, a beautiful woman and a talented actress, but she did not go along with the norms of the Hollywood film society and left Hollywood for Europe. She was always compared to her LULU role in the movie “Die Büchse der Pandora” (1929), which was filmed in Germany. Until she ended her career in film in 1938, she had made only 25 movies.

This is a reprint of an old postcard (Louise Brooks, Germany,1928) showing Louise holding BONZO and DISMAL DESMOND. Bonzo the dog (right side in the photo) was created by British Artist George E. Studdy in the early 1920s. Dismal Desmond was created by British artist Ian Hassal about 1926.    

This amazing half doll was most likely designed after this postcard. She is marked with an incised 18335 and was made by Carl Schneider in Thuringia. Height is 9.5 cm.

The cover of a 1926 MOTION PICTURE CLASSIC magazine featuring Louise Brooks (photo can be seen at: ) may have inspired the Bavarian porcelain manufacturer Wm.  Goebel  to create this fancy and atypical powder box. The cigarette in her mouth serves as a handle for a fluffy powder puff. Fortunately the handle “survived” the last 70 years without a break. The box measures 9 cm in length and retains its original golden Goebel Wilhelmsfeld label with the crown mark. 

More information on Louise “Lulu” Brooks at :

Dienstag, 8. November 2011


In 1744 Jean-Etienne Liotard, a Swiss-French painter, who went to Vienna to paint portraits of the Imperial family, had painted a portrait of a young lady in the dress of a German chamber maid carrying a tray on which is a glass of water and a cup of chocolate. Count Algarotti, an art connoisseur bought this painting on behalf of Augustus of Saxony, the King of Poland, who hung it in the Dresden Gallery.  It has remained there ever since.  Henry Pierce, the fifth owner of Walter Baker`s Chocolate, saw the original pastel painting during a European trip in the late 1870s. He was so taken with the image of a beautiful young woman serving chocolate and arranged to have a large-scale replica painted for display at the Baker’s offices.  The trademark logo of La Belle Chocolatiere was adopted by Baker's Chocolate in 1883 along with a romantic story of Anna Baldauf, a young Viennese woman. The story claims that Prince Dietrichstein entered a chocolate shop on a cold day and noticed her beauty. Anna may or may not have earned her living as chocolate maiden. They fell in love and soon married, despite their different social classes. Liotard was traveling through the city drawing portraits of Austrian royalty when Dietrichstein asked him to capture Anna`s likeness as a wedding gift.

This story associated with the painting is almost certainly not accurate, but who cares. The story of a beautiful poor girl and a prince was always an exciting base for a fairytale.
The Dresden Gallery provides details suggesting the existence of two women by the name of Anna Baldauf, living fifty years apart. A guidebook for the Dresden Royal Portrait Collection states, “She was born around 1730 in Vienna, was named Anna Baldauf, and was famous as the “beautiful nursemaid.” But she is not to be confused with the Viennese Anna Baldauf who was married to Prince Johann von Dietrichstein on July 23, 1802.”

Liotard’s painting did not only inspire Mr. Pierce from Baker’s Chocolate. It inspired several German porcelain manufacturers to create half dolls bearing the likeness to the lady in the painting. These lovely half dolls are amongst the most coveted by collectors.

This half doll was made by Dressel & Kister of Passau/Bavaria about 1910-20. It’s a very good rendition of LA BELLE CHOCOLATIERE. Her tray has feet on the underside similar to those in the painting. On her tray is a glass of water and a chocolate cup. She is marked inside the base with the blue painted Dressel & Kister mark, the bishop`s crozier and measures 13 cm in height. 

Gebrueder Heubach of Lichte in Thuringia, well-known for their excellent piano babies and bisque figurines, produced this lovely lady. Her dress is similar to that in the painting and she carries a tray with a chocolate pot and a water glass. She can be found in an old Heubach catalog and is marked with an incised 10442 II. This doll measures 12 cm, but was also made in 17.9 cm (7”).

This chocolate server was made by A.W. Fr. Kister of Scheibe-Alsbach in Thuringia. Her modeling closely resembles that in the painting. She carries a tray with a chocolate cup and a water glass. Marked under the tray with an incised D326, height is 11 cm (4-3/8”).

These three serving sisters are made by Galluba & Hofmann, who was located in Ilmenau / Thuringia. The ladies on the left and right side in the photo are not as rare as their sister in the middle who wears a winged Dutch cap, but all of them are done in very good quality. The tray of the doll in the middle is embellished with an additional chocolate pot or coffee pot and a little milk jug instead of the water glass. Her sisters are holding trays with a cup and a water glass.  They are marked with an incised 9198, 3867 and 9190. Size is about 13 cm.