“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).