This show includes a unique collection of more than 150 artists’ manikins that Hendeles has assembled over two decades. With singular and multiple examples covering three centuries of their production and use, these handmade, finely crafted wooden pieces populate the realm of From her wooden sleep… and here become essential subjects of a work of art rather than studio tools for artists, the role for which most were made.
Artists used manikins as a means of fixing a pose or the drape of material on the human body as far back as the Renaissance. Through the 19th century and into the 20th, the artistry of the dedicated and capable artisans producing them in earlier times gave way to more geometric and generic renditions that resulted in less individualization between the figures. Shoulder balls became mechanized abstractions rather than, as in earlier models with extra rotating joints, elaborations of the mechanism of human joints. Even when manikin faces are painted or carved in some detail, with such features as eyebrows, furrowed brows, heavy-lidded eyes or dimpled chins, physiognomies are usually generalized, with the narrowed waists further emphasizing a figure’s anonymous and androgynous mien.
The preferred spelling for the figures in this show is “manikin,” though “mannequin,” the French form, is more common. In both cases, the derivation is from the Dutch manneken — literally, “little man.” An artist’s manikin may also be referred to as a “lay figure.” This comes from an antiquated usage of “layman,” which again derives from a Dutch term, leeman — literally, “joint man.”
Though at first seen mainly in artists’ studios, manikins found ready applications in any context that required the human body as a model. As a result, they have long been associated with medical disciplines as well as the clothing and fashion industries, and by extension retail display. In medicine, the manikin is often a life-size model used for teaching, such as the Transparent Anatomical Manikin developed in the late 1960s to show internal organs.
For the most part, manikins for artists or medical purposes are made of wood, with wood turning essential for the creation of the wooden dowels and pins needed to build articulated joints. At the same time, however, torsos, major body parts and fine details were handcrafted. As with the Grödner Tal dolls, it seems likely that as the volume of production rose in the 19th century especially, craftsmen might specialize in the production of specific parts so that a finished manikin would be the work of several people in a manufacturing workshop. Rather than being homemade or one-off productions, the artist learned from the process of building her collection that manikin workshops may have functioned rather like the studio of a master painter, who delegated some of the creation to able studio assistants. Manikins were produced across Europe, although France, and especially Paris, became a leading centre of production during the 19th century.
In her show sameDIFFERENCE in Toronto (2002) and later in Partners at the Haus der Kunst in Munich (2003), Hendeles made an installation called The Teddy Bear Project. This included an archive of found family-album photographs determined by a single motif — a jointed, mohair-covered toy teddy bear. In a playful spoof on the authority of a natural history museum and its didactic use of classification, she arranged the archive in more than 120 typologies that were both real and fanciful, presented in a series of interlocking narratives. From her wooden sleep… has an analogous approach insofar as the manikins, too, are articulated and posable, and seemingly take their place in the tableau according to typological similarities. Sometimes, these adhere to their chronological dates or places of manufacture, but sometimes they are positioned as real or “found” families. Groups on some of the settles, for example, share a clear “genetic link” (such as common carved facial features or expressions), suggesting the shared “look” of a family grouping. Others may be related by the evidence of a single production feature, such as the remains of a subsequently painted gesso overlay. In still other cases, the grouping and positioning choices were determined by differences rather than similarities (life-size figures with and without carved hair, for example) and often by varying modulations in colour and size. Most of the manikins are positioned in an attentive pose — they are, as art historians would say, “rapt.” Most of them appear to have their eyes trained on the lone standing figure at the front of the assembly, though a few appear to be distracted by people walking along the aisles. This common focus unites them in their own community and subtly casts the viewer as an outsider, interloper, intruder or voyeur.
Almost all the manikins in the tableau are situated on the same floor as the viewer rather than on pedestals, plinths and platforms or behind glass, as a museum would likely display them—as artefacts or protected specimens. Here they share the viewer’s physical and psychic space while still maintaining a communal cohesiveness. Since the figures lend themselves to projection, these objects summon a dreamscape that tends to blur the distinction between human and non-human. A few manikins, however, are deliberately set apart. Several are in glass vitrines in a mise-en-scène, as if in a bubble of memory from the past. Others are positioned on surfaces, such as the refectory table or a sculptor’s stand. And still others have lost their original “flesh” made of wood wool and stocking upholstery; these now appear under the refectory table as skeletal remains or in their vitrines like captured creatures — more suggestive of insects than human beings.
The standing figure with the key in its head — the key, like that of one of the manikin horses, used to lock a pose — stands apart from the rest, the subject of attention of the community at large. The seated male manikin in front of the standing figure is a figure of authority. He is made with carefully, indeed “lovingly,” carved features that include the rendering of veins on his hands and feet. His gaze seems momentarily averted from the standing subject in front of him; he’s looking at an earlier, smaller version of the same figure form, which lies prone on the child’s table by his side. This is the earliest known manikin made for an artist’s use, dating from c. 1630.
Though almost all the manikins in this collection were artists’ tools, a few had a different role. The Gliederpuppen (noted above) are the oldest figures here, but were not made as professional tools. Two other examples likely doubled as Santos figures — painted forms that, with articulated joints like artists’ manikins, could be posed in a religious tableau. The static écorché figure by Austrian artist Franz Nissl (1731–1804), which shows the most detailed musculature, is a kind of hybrid between manikin and medical model, but without articulated limbs.
To date, there has been little committed interest in collecting manikins. Except for a few models in dubious condition in institutions that have been noticed mainly for their connection with a field of study, little attention has been paid to how they were made and who made them, other than the handful of art-supply houses that provided them. With the advent of the camera, they have become secondary in the making of art. Peered at as curiosities of a bygone era, they can be uncanny, freakish and, when in disrepair, a little bit scary, like cracked dolls in movies.
While manikins have become obsolete relics as tools for artists, they have figured sometimes in photography and art. The pair of manikins in the vitrine on the railway cart, for example, is the very model used by Man Ray (American, 1890–1976) for his Mr. and Mrs. Woodman series (1947); in art, one might cite the work of Germany’s Hans Bellmer (1902–1975). For the most part, however, manikins as individual items have now become antique artefacts more than functional tools.
“Golliwogg’s Cakewalk,” sixth and most popular movement of Children’s Corner suite, Claude Debussy (French, 1862–1918), 1908
Audio: Digital recording of 1912 Welte-Mignon piano rolls for which Debussy played his own piece. In From her wooden sleep…, the recording plays on a continuous loop, with 10-second breaks between the composer’s performances
Recording: TACET Musikproduktion, Stuttgart, Germany
Producer: Andreas Spreer
Welte-Mignon reproduction system technician: Hans-W. Schmitz
Steinway piano technician: Paul Stöckle
TACET audio release: The Welte-Mignon Mystery, Vol. XII, Debussy and Ravel, cat. 0166-0 CD, 2009
“Golliwogg’s Cakewalk” is the last of a suite of six pieces that make up Claude Debussy’s Children’s Corner, composed for solo piano from 1906–1908. Published by Durand et Fils in Paris in 1908, the suite is dedicated to Debussy’s daughter, Claude-Emma, who was three years old at the time. Debussy dedicated the piece to her using her pet name: “A ma chère petite Chouchou, avec les tendres excuses de son Père pour ce qui va suivre.” (“To my dear little Chouchou, with your father’s tender excuses for what follows.”)
Four of the pieces make specific reference to toys in Claude-Emma’s nursery: “Jimbo’s Lullaby” refers to a toy elephant, the English name used by Debussy likely a spelling error for Jumbo, the giant African elephant that had been kept at Paris’s Jardin des Plantes before it went to the London Zoo and subsequently to the Barnum & Bailey Circus; “Serenade for the Doll” refers to one of Claude-Emma’s dolls; “The Little Shepherd” refers to a cardboard figure of a young shepherd with a flute; and “Golliwogg’s Cakewalk” refers to her Golliwogg doll. Debussy himself sketched the design for the cover of the music’s first edition, which shows an elephant and a Golliwogg. “The red on the cover,” he wrote to his publisher on August 6, 1908, “must be an orange-red — try and surround the ‘Golliwogg’s’ head with a golden halo — for the cover, a light grey paper scattered with snow.” (“The Snow Is Dancing” is one of the six pieces.) The elephant, though not the Golliwogg, reappears on the dedication page.
Debussy’s musical humour is quite evident in “Golliwogg’s Cakewalk.” First, it is a spirited exploration of the syncopated ragtime musical genre born in African American communities in the American South, but later in the 19th century prominent in broader popular culture. It was widely available in sheet music at a time when the piano was a principal form of entertainment in many homes. American composer Scott Joplin (c. 1867–1917) was a leading exponent of the genre, and there are indeed striking similarities between the introduction to his famous rag, “The Entertainer” (1902), and Debussy’s “Golliwogg’s Cakewalk.” As a musical innovator looking to develop his own musical language (one that escaped the heavy influence of German Romanticism and especially Richard Wagner), Debussy was open to outside influences and non-European musical forms.
By the turn of the century, ragtime and the cakewalk dance were closely associated. The cakewalk, too, had its origins in African American slave communities, the name according to some accounts referring to the prize of a cake given to winners of a dancing contest. Ironically, the dance’s origins in slave society appears to have been born of mimicry of the minuets and marches danced by slaveholders at their own dances and get-togethers. In the cakewalk, the steps and gestures were increasingly exaggerated and became a source of entertainment for slave owners when their slaves danced it for them. Later, the cakewalk became more widely popular in travelling minstrel shows (often employing white performers in blackface) and was an established part of popular culture by the turn of the century.
Cakewalk music typically has a 2/4 time signature, with two alternating heavy beats. In this respect, it’s essentially similar to ragtime, so the dance and musical forms had affinities built in. The cakewalk dance was already known in Europe before Debussy wrote Children’s Corner, and indeed it was already something of a fad in Paris. “By 1908,” writes musicologist Davinia Caddy, “the cakewalk had enjoyed a successful stage career. Renowned for its high-stepping, back-arching postures, the dance was the star attraction of music hall and circus shows, performed by the celebrated entertainers Henri [sic] Fragson, La Belle Otero, and Marguerite Duval, to name a few. It even became a popular recreational activity; music halls sponsored concours de cake walk in which amateur couples competed in improvisational skill, and bourgeois salons incorporated the dance into their evening entertainment.” (“Parisian Cake Walks,” 19th-Century Music, vol. 30, no. 3, Spring 2007, University of California Press.) The cakewalk was so well known in Paris, Caddy also notes, that the French tended to refer to all ragtime compositions as “cakewalks.”
In writing “Golliwogg’s Cakewalk,” Debussy was playing to a degree off the popular culture of his time and a prevailing taste for primitive (especially negro) art that encompassed both American and African cultures. At the 1900 Exposition, there was both an Exposition de Nègres d’Amérique, which mainly through photography sought to highlight African Americans in a positive light in American society, and also an exhibit purporting to show primitive life in a Madagascar village (the kind of exhibition often referred to as a “human zoo”).
Debussy, however, famously introduced into “Golliwogg’s Cakewalk” another alien element that has nothing to do with African or African American influences. The piece is cast in simple traditional ABA form, and in the B section, starting at measure 61 and continuing through measure 81, he quotes the opening phrase of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, the so-called Love/Death theme. The phrase is repeated three times and comes with banjo-like syncopations. Here high musical art is set in the context of popular culture, two alien forms playing off each other to hilarious effect. Debussy’s relationship to the German composer was ambivalent. While he was initially greatly influenced by Wagner’s music — not least by the chromaticism of Tristan — he became increasingly eager to escape the influence of Wagner and the Wagnerism that had been as much of a craze in French musical circles as elsewhere.
In this exhibition, Debussy himself is heard playing the piece, recorded in 1912 through the contemporary Welte-Mignon technology. The firm of M. Welte, based in Freiburg, Germany, had developed a mechanism that could accurately capture pieces played on a piano — in tempi and dynamics — on a paper tape. This could then be processed into a piano role for playback and reproduction. The digital recording heard in this exhibit was made by Stuttgart-based TACET Musikproduktion using the original 1912 Welte-Mignon piano roll and reproduction system.
1. Untitled [Girl doll reading], Morton Bartlett (American, 1909–1992), c. 1950
Unique unpublished vintage gelatin silver print, in wooden frame
(Unique original negative and copyright: Collection of Ydessa Hendeles)
Frame: 33.7 (h) x 28.6 x 2.2 cm
Mat window: 11.4 (h) x 8.6 cm
Morton Bartlett made his living as a graphic designer and print-project manager in his native Boston. Orphaned at the age of eight, he remained a loner all his life, with no living family and few friends. Over the quarter century since his death, however, he has won a reputation as an idiosyncratic outsider in the art world, his status the result of interest in his work as a sculptor and photographer. With no formal training in either discipline, Bartlett in 1936 started to make detailed half-size models of young children aged from about eight to 16, over the next 30 years literally creating a family of 12 girls and three boys. Working from anatomy texts and other books, he worked first with clay, and then cast his models in plaster before finishing their features in fine detail and dressing them in handmade clothes. He subsequently posed and photographed his models, his final archive of images numbering in the hundreds. In most cases, the photographed poses recreate mundane aspects of childhood and growing up. From her wooden sleep… begins with an unpublished Bartlett image of a young girl reading a book.
Precisely what urges found expression in Bartlett’s unusual hobby is the subject of some speculation since critical discourse on his creations is entirely posthumous and he rarely talked about his work publicly. The consensus is that Bartlett’s focus on making sculptures of preteen and adolescent children was largely innocent, born of his own difficult childhood circumstances and a subsequent lifelong yearning to create or be part of his own family. But there is also an erotic undercurrent in his idealized children, with the anatomical detail of the girl models especially detailed and finely rendered. (Though less detailed in execution, it has been noted that the three boy models bear features that are similar to Bartlett’s own.) But even if Bartlett’s choice of subject matter might strike some as less than innocent, there’s no evidence that his interest in children in any way extended beyond his hobby. It appears that he stopped adding to his family after he was forced to move from a long time residence in Boston. He carefully stored his creations in custom-made boxes and wrapped these in newspaper. The full extent of Bartlett’s work — each figure took a year or more to finish — only became public with the discovery of these boxes and the related photographs after his death.
Bartlett’s sculptures and the extensive collection of family-album photographs documenting them appear to have been made solely for his own enjoyment. Since his death, however, he has increasingly been viewed as an important contemporary maker of “outsider art,” the term denoting his self-tutored development outside any formal academic or institutional art context rather than any social or psychological marginalization. His art was privately made for palliative purposes, not for the public.
The significance of the description has been much discussed in recent times, from its relation to the idea of unschooled Art Brut laid out by Jean Dubuffet in the 1940s to its delineation as an art category by major institutions and contemporary art galleries.
With its invocation of a bedtime story, this photograph seemed apt to launch the narrative of From her wooden sleep…. Hendeles also chose it because it conjures a cinematic transition from black and white to colour (as in the original movie version of The Wizard of Oz) and signals from the outset that this exhibition is a knowing conflation of curating and art-making.
2. Three-panel, wall-mounted haberdashery mirror, French, c. 1870
Hand-painted “Chinoiserie” scenic landscape on back of ebonized wood panel; steel hinges; maker’s label: “M. BRET, Fabricant, PARIS 57 Rue de MAUBEUGE”
142 (h) x 198.1 x 10.2 cm
2.1. Miniature piano, English, c. 1870; miniature piano stool, English, 19th century
3. Collection of five mountain banjos, Virginia and North Carolina, USA, c. 1880–1920
Hand-carved hardwood, with vellum head covers and steel hardware
Smallest: 83.8 (h) x 27.9 x 5.1 cm
Largest: 92.7 (h) x 27.3 x 5.7 cm
Provenance: Private collection of a scholar and curator in Virginia, USA, specializing in the arts and culture of the American South
The focus of musical fads and fashions on both sides of the Atlantic through much of the 19th century, the banjo has a long history in popular culture. It is also the most prominent musical instrument in the turbulent history of race relations during and after the heyday of colonial slaving society.
Scholars have traced banjo-like instruments back to Ancient Egypt, but the modern instrument’s immediate ancestors are more likely found in West Africa, such as the xalam, an instrument with one to five strings and a wooden sound box typically covered with cowhide. The banjo derives from such primitive instruments brought to America through the slave trade from Africa or through the Caribbean.
The development of the minstrel show in the 1840s and especially the popularity of white “negro impersonators” were key to the banjo’s wider entry into society. Its popularization across racial and social barriers eventually reached the point where the banjo rivalled the piano as the instrument of choice for amateur parlour players. Joel Walker Sweeney (c. 1810–1860) was one of the most influential performers, after reputedly being taught to play by slaves on his family’s Virginia farm in the 1820s. As a “blackface” performer, he not only toured extensively in the US, but also travelled to England with an American circus in 1843 and enjoyed huge success there. Also in 1843, the Virginia Minstrels blackface troupe followed Sweeney to England, and these acts are credited with establishing minstrelsy and the banjo in that country at the same time.
In the latter part of the 19th century, there was in the US especially a major effort to appropriate the banjo as an instrument of white culture, explicitly an attempt to deny its folk roots. As the instrument grew in popularity, it underwent numerous changes in terms of construction and materials, tuning, playing styles and attitudes to its legitimacy as a serious instrument. White banjo artists, displaying virtuosic skills, started to enjoy great success playing arrangements of Western classical music, thus helping the banjo make the transition from circuses and minstrel shows to the concert hall. The emergence of banjo orchestras was part of this process.
The craze for the banjo died out around the turn of the 19th century in both the US and England just as the African American-inflected music with which it had become most associated — including rags and the cakewalk — won wider acceptance in popular and serious culture. The minstrel tradition would continue in various forms well into the 20th century — in the US, for example, in the New Christy Minstrels (named for Christy’s Minstrels, one of the original 1840s troupes) and in England through the long-running Black and White Minstrel Show (which, unlike the American group, carried the blackface tradition into the 1980s).
4. Museum display case (ex-Victoria & Albert Museum, London), c. 1850; birdhouse, French, c. 1850
4.1 Pair of articulated figures, South German, c. 1520
Hand-carved linden, with birch dowel pins; catgut stringing
Male: 43.8 (h) x 17.8 x 7 cm
Female: 43.8 (h) x 18.4 x 6.7 cm
This early 16th-century pair of German manikins (the German term is Gliederpuppe) exhibits characteristically fine carving and finishing. Internal catgut stringing connects the articulated limbs. Given the size and intricate detail of these male and female figures, it is quite possible that they were not made specifically as lay figures for an artist, but as specimens for a Kunst- or Wunderkammer, set up by institutions or wealthy people to display personal collections of diverse curiosities. Such disparate collections, which would become more widely known in English as a “cabinet of curiosities,” gained popularity in Renaissance times, when people started to take a keener intellectual interest in the natural world around them. The original museums were filled with objects that were as yet unclassified or unclassifiable by existing science. There were fewer categorical boundaries between types of objects in such museums, and so there was a greater openness to considering different kinds of objects side by side. A cabinet of curiosities might include natural and man-made objects. As part of such a collection, these manikin figures would have been made to be displayed and admired as artworks rather than used as wooden models.
5. Museum display case (ex-Victoria & Albert Museum, London), c. 1850; artist’s articulated manikin with stand, French, c. 1880
5.1 Nineteen milliner’s head form lasts, French, c. 1830–1880
Hand-carved wood, leather
Smallest: height, 11.4 cm
Largest: height, 24.1 cm
Measurements of all 19 (h x w x d):
1: 11.4 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm
2: 12.1 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm
3: 14 x 4.4 x 3.8 cm
4: 14 x 6.4 x 6.4 cm
5: 16.5 x 5.4 x 4.8 cm
6: 15.9 x 5.7 x 6.4 cm
7: 18.1 x 7 x 5.4 cm
8: 19.7 x 7.3 x 7 cm
9: 24.1 x 9.8 x 9.8 cm
10: 18.4 x 13 x 10.5 cm
11: 22.2 x 17.8 x 15.9 cm
12: 21 x 7.6 x 6.4 cm
13: 21 x 10.2 x 8.3 cm
14: 22.2 x 10.2 x 8.9 cm
15: 19.1 x 17.1 x 15.2 cm
16: 22.9 x 17.8 x 15.2 cm
17: 22.9 x 16.5 x 14 cm
18: 24.1 x 17.8 x 15.2 cm
19: 20.3 x 16.5 x 13.3 cm
This group of head form lasts, all in original working condition and likely unique as a collection, was discovered in an old French milliner’s workshop. The collection includes head form lasts for adults, children and, unusually, even smaller models for making wigs and bonnets to fit early wooden- and porcelain-headed dolls. The function of the head form last for the milliner is loosely analogous to that of the lay figure for the artist. As a tool to help define size, the last has a more generalized human shape than the more specific hat block and a wider variety of applications as a result. The varying sizes in this collection suggest they are from the boutique or workshop of a specialist milliner or hatter with a coterie of regular clients.
When Hendeles encountered this collection of hat lasts, she was struck by the multiple pin punctures in the lasts, which recalled a childhood in which her mother made all her clothing. This vitrine is rooted in the artist's past because her mother, Dorothy Zweigel, was a milliner and seamstress.
She was born in Zawiercie in southern Poland in 1916. Her mother died when Dorothy was still a child, leaving the family impoverished by medical bills. Her rabbi father, Joel Menachem Zweigel, was left to raise her and her five siblings. He could trace his ancestry back to the eminent 16th-century rabbinical scholar, Joel Sirkis, who was born in 1561, about the same time that the oldest objects in this installation, the German Gliederpuppen manikins, were made. Her father also became a renowned scholar and a member of the internationally regarded governing board of Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, Europe’s most distinguished centre for Torah studies until the Nazi occupation, when its books were destroyed and the building became the Military Police Headquarters.
As a teenager, Dorothy Zweigel learned the craft of the seamstress in the nearby city of Lodz, later opening her own custom hat workshop in Zawiercie. It was a successful business—successful enough to buy her music-loving father, a cantor, a large cabinet radio/phonograph—until her eventual arrest and deportation to Bergen-Belsen and then Auschwitz. When Ydessa Hendeles was a child, her mother told her that her older brother Karl’s child, Szlamus Zweigel, often played in her workshop. A family photograph survives— Hendeles’s uncle hid it in his clothing—showing the young boy in a Bavarian-style yellow-and-green outfit that her mother made to help camouflage his Jewish identity. The photograph is the only evidence of the little boy’s existence. It is dated “Warthenau [the German name for Zawiercie after the occupation] May 31, 1942.” Shortly after the picture was taken, Szlamus was put on a train to Auschwitz and murdered.
Dorothy Hendeles's sewing skills in part helped save her life in Auschwitz. Female guards admired her artistic talent and asked her to make special items for them. This provided her with a measure of protection, albeit precarious, as well as enough food to subsist, which she shared with her sister, Balla. When Balla was too ill with typhoid to attend the 4 a.m. roll call—failure to attend was usually a death sentence—Dorothy’s intercession with the guards saved her life.
For Hendeles, the head form lasts resonate with meaningful associations that span four centuries, which is the same temporal frame for the items making up From her wooden sleep.... The objects underlying the associations sit in the vitrines in a kind of dreamscape that crosses the chasm between public and private realities before and after the National Socialist era.
Like all the vitrines in this installation, these antique showcases and the objects inside evoke personal memories of her past. Her work, however, though inspired by her memories, is not autobiographical. She positions the vitrines in a shared present for viewers to summon their own memories.
6. Marburg Madonna, Ydessa Hendeles, 2007–2008
6.1 Artist’s articulated equestrian manikins, French, c. 1890
Hand-carved wood, with steel joints
Both manikins impressed on back: “MAQUETTE FRANÇAISE, BREVETÉE S. G. D. G.” and “PARIS B DEPOSÉE, SUR ARMATURE ARTICULÉE”
Male manikin: 50.8 (h) x 12.7 x 7 cm
Female manikin: 47.6 (h) x 12.7 x 7 cm
6.2 Travelling salesman’s miniature model of an obstetrician’s examination table, probably Argentinian, early to mid-20th century
Fully articulated steel and brass construction; impressed: “N. Strikman, Chile 967, BS Aires”
26.7 (h) x 61 x 30.5 cm
6.3 Medical lamp, Type LRG, No. 1772, designed by André Walter, Paris, c. 1930
Aluminium lamp hood and steel base; half-mirror incandescent lamp bulb; maker’s label on base: “ÉTABLISSEMENTS ANDRÉ WALTER, SOCIÉTÉ ANONYME AU CAPITAL DE 600,000 FRS, UNIS-FRANCE 128, 37 Boulevard Saint-Michel – PARIS”
129.5 (h) x 104 x 54.6 cm
6.4 Custom-made disassemblable display vitrine, 2010
Mahogany, linen, double curved glass showcase with two curved-glass end doors (keyed) for access, brass fittings, electrical socket
Fabricated by Michael Buchanan, Toronto
190.5 (h) x 198.1 x 121.9 cm
These four objects were specifically created to serve particular functions, but are here brought together in a vitrine Hendeles designed to make a mise-en-scène that is removed from their individual origins. The wooden male and female manikins were made for use with wooden articulated horses and were used by artists to animate and then capture a rider’s posture and position. The obstetrician’s examination table is fully functional, an exact miniature of the real thing used by travelling salesmen. It was probably made by a medical-supply company, since the name and address on the label are precise, though its exact significance is lost. The source of the medical lamp is clear. Lighting designer and engineer André Walter was an innovator in lighting for the medical sector, and his Paris-based company was a leader in the development of systems and units for operating theatres and other specialized medical contexts.
In this composition, the female wooden manikin lies on the adjustable model table, posed in a way that projects the head support as a shining silver halo. The reflections in the curved glass of the vitrine augment this sense of the ecclesiastical and ethereal.
When she was born in Marburg in 1948, daughter and only child of Jacob and Dorothy Hendeles, the city was already a focus for rebirth and regeneration after the catastrophe of National Socialism. Emerging relatively unscathed from the war, in part because it was a known hospital city, Marburg quickly became an important administrative centre in the American Zone of Occupation. It was also one of a handful of cities designated as collecting points for Nazi-looted art and artefacts. Its famous university was among the first institutions designated to restore the ruined country’s system of higher education. Indeed, the University of Marburg, especially for those who wanted to pick up their lives by continuing their education, was yet another attraction for Hendeles’s parents and their surviving family and friends.
7. The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a “Golliwogg,” Bertha Upton (1849–1912, writer) and Florence K. Upton (1873–1922, illustrator), Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1895
Four first edition issues
22.2 (h) x 28.6 x 1.9 cm each
Florence K. Upton was born in Flushing, New York, to English parents. Her father had immigrated to New York City in 1868, where he went to work for the American Exchange Bank, and her mother followed in 1870. Florence was the second of four children (including two sisters and a brother), and by all accounts she grew up in a happy, arts-loving household.
When she was 15, Florence joined her father to take free art lessons offered on evenings by New York’s National Academy of Design. When she was 16, she had already started to earn some income selling drawings and illustrations to publications, an activity that tragically became a necessity when her father died of a stroke in 1889, leaving the family without its major source of income. The family in fact found its feet quite quickly, with Florence’s mother, Bertha, giving voice lessons, and the two oldest girls quitting school to work, Florence as an illustrator.
In 1893, the family had sufficient means to visit Bertha’s family in the London suburb of Hampstead. Now 20, Florence had been successful as a commercial illustrator in New York and started to find such work in London. Her goal was to become a painter, though she recognized that she would need further training, preferably in continental Europe. As a way of supplementing her income to finance her goals, she started to think about producing children’s books. She decided to stay on in London when her family returned to New York in September 1894, and then also conceived the idea for the series of books that were, in their time, as much anticipated as J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories would become a century later.
Upton started with an idea for a story based on her own collection of five “penny-wooden” peg dolls. Produced mainly in Germany, these were popularly known as “Dutch Dolls” (a common Anglicization of “Deutsch” or “German,” but also perhaps because some were made in the Netherlands). Upton’s story about toy dolls that come alive was relatively new at the time, though the theme was known in England as early as 1845 from an English translation of a reworking of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker. One of the most famous living-toy creations, Pinocchio, had come to life in Italy in 1881, though an English translation was not available for another decade. The plan was for Kate Upton to illustrate a new story written in verse by her mother, Bertha. Somewhere along the way, the Golliwogg, a soft rag doll of a black boy dressed in the American minstrel tradition, was taken up and given a central role in the story — and the leading role in all the sequels to what on its initial printing was titled The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls.
In later years, Upton gave a matter-of-fact explanation of the genesis of the Golliwogg character. The inspiration, it seems, was a rag doll the Upton children owned, though Florence isn’t clear about where it came from. In “Birth of the Golliwogg” (John O’London’s Weekly, December 22, 1950), author Hubert Peet quotes Upton from notes made by his father when he was head of advertising for Longmans, Green & Co., Upton’s English publisher:
He fell into our hands when we were children. In those days he was nameless. Be it said to our disgrace he submitted to some pretty bad treatment. Seated upon a flowerpot in the garden, his kindly face was a target for rubber balls and other missiles, the game being to knock him over backwards. It pains me to think of those little rag legs flying ignominiously over his head, yet that was a long time ago, and before he had become a personality.
Longmans was taking a chance when it signed a contract with the 21-year-old Upton. Initially, the company had not been interested, but one of its editors, J. W. Allen, took Upton’s story home to read to his children. Their enthusiastic response is credited with changing the publisher’s mind. When the title was released before Christmas, it was a huge success, necessitating additional printings. With these, and recognizing the instant popularity of the Golliwogg character, the title changed to The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a “Golliwogg.”
So successful was this first volume that the company commissioned the Uptons to develop a series, and the pre-Christmas launch of a new Golliwogg adventure would become a tradition for more than a decade. In all, there were 13 titles, one a year until 1909 (with the exception of 1908). By the time the series came to an end, the Golliwogg had become a well-established figure in the toy industry, too. While the first Golliwogg dolls would have been handmade, commercial companies took them up in the early 20th century, with the Germany-based Steiff starting mass production of them in 1908. In fact, as a toy, the Golliwogg predates the Teddy Bear, which made its first appearance commercially as a soft toy in late 1905. The Golliwogg became a favourite childhood companion of boys as much as of girls, as is evident in the poignant memories summoned by the late English art historian Sir Kenneth Clark in his autobiography, Another Part of the Wood: A Self Portrait (John Murray, 1974):
Like Charlemagne, I thought I would never succeed in mastering this difficult art [reading] but in the end I succeeded, and what joys were available to me. The chief of these was a series of illustrated books, by Florence and Bertha Upton which recount and illustrate the adventures of a Golliwogg and five Dutch dolls. I do not think it an exaggeration to say that they influenced my character more fundamentally than anything I have read since ... He was for me an example of chivalry, far more persuasive than the unconvincing Knights of the Arthurian legend. I identified myself with him completely, and have never quite ceased to do so.
The success of the Golliwogg series allowed Upton to realize her original ambition of studying further to pursue a career as an artist. She went on to study in Holland and France, and, at the time of her death, was described by American Art News as having “lived in London for many years and painted many portraits of well-known American and English men and women.”
Upton never copyrighted her illustrations for the Golliwogg books, so never received royalties from the toy companies that appropriated her imagery. The only other notable income for her invention was an act of charity to aid the war effort. In 1917, she gave Christie’s her dolls (including the rag doll minstrel figure that inspired Golliwogg) and 350 original illustrations from the 11 books for an auction to benefit the Red Cross. The lot sold for about £500, which was used to buy and equip an ambulance — called Golliwogg — that served on the Western Front in France. The dolls are now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood in London.
There’s no reason to believe that Upton’s invention of the Golliwogg character is based on anything other than her own fond memories of a childhood toy, though he was undeniably introduced as a distinctly different character and one who was frightening on first encounter. He first appears on page 26 of the original book:
Then all look round, as well they may
to see a horrid sight!
The blackest gnome
Stands there alone,
They scatter in their fright.
The mood changes over the next two stanzas when the dolls ask for a name (“The ‘Golliwogg’ my dear”), and then all three walk off arm-in-arm as each doll “tries her chance/And charms him with ‘small talk’.”
The shift in the dolls’ attitude is significant. Initially, they react to Golliwogg’s difference based on skin colour, but then look beyond surface appearances.
From here (and through the rest of the book series) the Golliwogg is a benevolent figure — cheeky, adventurous and extricating himself and his companions from all kinds of mildly dangerous situations (many of his own making). One can understand how the somewhat anarchic character might have appealed to children in the relatively straitlaced times in which he was created.
Another sympathetic but somewhat different perspective has been explored by Australian scholar Olga Buttiegieg in Recognizing the spirituality of the Golliwogg: An analysis of Upton’s Golliwogg picture books (PhD thesis, Australian Catholic University, April 2014). She argues that the character’s “original identity has been misrepresented by subsequent childhood authors ... The change reflects the different social conditions under which many people appropriated the Upton Golliwogg and used his name and image in ways that reflected racism. However, the Upton Golliwogg was a character who brought a new kind of spiritual presence to childhood literature.” Far from alienating young readers by his otherness, Golliwogg invited them “to embrace all of life’s experiences by drawing them into various adventures and creating characters with whom children could identify, thereby providing the potential to nurture their spirituality. His key spiritual qualities of kind-heartedness and imagination were legitimate ways of knowing and being in the world.”
In the original book, Golliwogg is not, from the dolls’ perspective, the only exotic character they encounter. One of the set pieces in the first story is a ball, where the more extroverted Sarah Jane dances with “a jovial African with large admiring eyes,” a “magnate from Japan ... dances a curious Easter dance,” Golliwogg dances with Peggy Deutschland, and “Sambo sings a song.”
Upton’s rendering of the “magnate from Japan” is not particularly Asian in demeanour, but he’s shown dancing to the delight of the Caucasian girl, who watches with her arm over the shoulder of the “jovial African,” an unnamed black girl in a striped dress. The illustration of Sambo draws entirely on the American minstrel tradition, still current when the Uptons produced their books. The character is seen playing a six-string banjo, dressed in a top hat, high-collar, tails and striped pants. The fuzzy hair protruding from the hat and the exaggerated lips are shown in white to stand out against the black skin in one of a group of sketches rendered in black and white to contrast with the more finely detailed main suite of coloured illustrations.
Interestingly, Upton’s rendition of Sambo predates by four years another famous children’s book seen elsewhere in this exhibition, Helen Bannerman’s 1899 The Story of Little Black Sambo. The setting of Bannerman’s story is South Asian, however, while Upton’s explicitly derives from the African American history of her native America.
Even if the creation of Golliwogg, as Upton insisted, had no racist or discriminatory intent, her beloved character was soon burdened with negative historical baggage. “The comic incongruity of his gentlemanly demeanour, combined with his minstrel-show features, could only, in a basically racist society, lead to a degeneration of both his situation and his name,” writes Lois Rostow Kuznets in When Toys Come Alive: Narratives of Animation, Metamorphosis and Development (Yale, 1994). Certainly, the minstrel tradition in popular entertainment, by the late 19th century well established in America and Europe, played off stereotypes of black people (males especially) and tended to bolster assumptions of their inferiority in white, Eurocentric society. In “Golliwogs and Teddy Bears: Embodied Racism in Children’s Popular Culture” (The Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 46, no. 3, June 2013), Donna Varga and Rhoda Zuk describe the stereotyping embedded in the minstrel tradition:
Originating in the US in the 1820s and a common entertainment in Britain by the 1850s, the white performer used burnt cork to color his face; painted a broad band of white or red around his mouth; put on elongated shoes to represent the supposed ape-like feet of blacks; dressed in fitted trousers and waistcoat to emphasize black male sexual debauchery; a tailcoat and top hat as mockery of incomplete civility; and/or a fright wig — the long black hair would stand on end when a cord was pulled. The minstrel spoke in a spurious dialect; sang, danced, clowned. Black performers in minstrel theatres were made to apply the burnt cork and paint as well — in effect imitating white people who imitated black people!
While Upton’s creation may bear distinct connections to aspects of 19th-century American popular culture and racial attitudes, the use of a black figure as an outsider is of longer lineage and more global. In Europe, the black man, often portrayed as an inferior to white counterparts, might be associated as much with Middle Eastern as African peoples. Hence the origin in the 16th century of “blackamoor” to designate someone with a dark skin. In the arts, there is a very long history of characters whose position as (often malevolent) outsiders is signalled through the colour of their skin — in some variants of the commedia dell’arte tradition, for example, the Harlequin character had his origins in a black-faced servant of the devil who rounded up damned souls. The later Punch and Judy tradition in England saw the inclusion of a black character as early as 1825 and its development into a minstrel-like figure named Jim Crow, after the popular song of the 1850s. In literature and music, one might cite Shakespeare’s Othello and Aaron in Titus Andronicus, Mozart’s Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte, and (a comparatively rarer female) Verdi’s fortune-telling, cave-dwelling Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Golliwogg’s popularity grew without much comment. Toy companies appropriated the character freely, and it famously became the logo of the British jam manufacturer, James Robertson & Sons, in 1910. A decade later, Robertson’s started a hugely popular programme, which lasted until the turn of the 20th century, in which children could exchange tokens from Robertson products for Golliwogg pins.
As the 20th century progressed, however, the Golliwogg morphed from child-friendly companion to increasingly insulting symbol of racial discrimination. Not surprisingly, in 1934, Adolf Hitler banned Golliwogg books and toys because the black characters were deemed unsuitable for Aryan children. Also in Nazi Germany, a Sambo-like minstrel figure, with grossly exaggerated lips and a Star of David on the lapel of his tailcoat, was used as an icon to represent Entartete Musik(Degenerate Music). In the post-war era, however, the Golliwogg was perceived in much more specifically racist terms further afield. In the English-speaking world, the name itself gained usage as a dismissive epithet for black people, and its association with the equally offensive “wog” only compounded the situation.
The etymological origins of “Golliwogg” and “wog” are not clear, and they are likely connected only by circumstantial usage. On some accounts, “Golliwogg” is derived from the much older “polliwog,” which originally referred to tadpoles, though in later usage also designated sailors crossing the Equator for the first time or served as a dismissive epithet for politicians. One account connects “Golliwogg” to “polliwog” by suggesting that the character’s tailcoat reflects the shape of a tadpole. It may be that the original doll character that inspired Upton was purchased as a “polliwog,” a name that did not generally carry racial connotations.
Less than a century after The Adventures of Two Dutch Girls, Golliwogg, initially so beloved of children, was totally discredited as a negative and unacceptable stereotype. Racial tensions, immigration patterns and civil rights movements all contributed to the eventual elimination of Golliwogg images. By the late 20th century, the Upton books were already largely forgotten, and by that time opposition was focused more on the malevolent Golliwoggs of English author Enid Blyton’s stories of the 1940s and 1950s. These developed three characters directly appropriated from Upton in Golly, Woggie and Nigger. There was never anything in Upton’s books to match Blyton’s overtly racist passages, such as this from The Three Golliwogs (1944):
Once the three bold golliwogs, Golly, Woggie, and Nigger, decided to go for a walk to Bumble-Bee Common. Golly wasn’t quite ready so Woggie and Nigger said they would start off without him, and Golly would catch them up as soon as he could. So off went Woggie and Nigger, arm-in-arm, singing merrily their favourite song — which, as you may guess, was Ten Little Nigger Boys.
By the turn of the 20th century, the Golliwogg had been largely relegated to the status of a collectible with a dubious heritage and associations. The Robertson jam company ceased production of its Golliwogg pins in 2001 — 20 million of them had been sent out by that time — and dropped the Golly brand altogether the following year, ostensibly on the grounds that children no longer knew about the character.
Caricatures of dark-skinned figures persist and cause suffering. There is, for example, the debate about Zwarte Piet (Black Peter), a traditional character in the Netherlands. He made his first popular appearance in an 1850 book by Jan Schenkman, but has deeper roots in the folklore of the Low Countries. Zwarte Piet is a servant of Saint Nicholas who distributes candies to children on the evening before his master’s December 6 feast day.
Zwarte Piet, in Renaissance costume, is usually depicted as a blackamoor with blackface makeup. Even though Holland has its own history as a colonial power in Africa and Asia, polls suggest that most Dutch people do not associate Zwarte Piet with racism or slavery. But opposition is growing. Though a charge of racial stereotyping raised at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2013 was dropped, protests have continued, leading authorities, including the Mayor of Amsterdam, to suggest that some changes to the representation of the character may be made in future.
Such situations are in sharp contrast to the presentation here of an antique book depicting a black protagonist. The inclusion of the Upton book recalls the way society saw things at the time of publication. In the context I have provided, the focus is on the behaviour of the character, not his appearance, which is no impediment to his acceptance by the other toys. Upton’s presentation is inclusive and Utopian. Whether that is the reality is up to the individual viewer to decide.
7.2 Steel worktable, French, c. 1910
7.3 Pair of Grödner Tal wooden dolls, German, 19th century
Hand-carved wood, with wooden peg joints at the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees; painted hair, bonnet, face and neck, one bib, forearms, hands, lower legs and shoes
19.7 (h) x 5.1 x 2.5 cm each
Dolls have been produced commercially in Europe for more than half a millennium, though the word “doll,” a short form for Dorothy, only came into use in the 19th century. While wooden dolls have been produced over the years in many European countries, Germany and German-speaking regions were probably the first commercial centres and have always been dominant producers. As Jill Gorman notes in her essay, “The Heart of the Tree: Early Wooden Dolls to the 1850s” (Part II, Doll News, Fall 2002), Germany had the natural advantage of abundant hardwood and softwood trees in its forests, as well as fast-flowing streams to power lathes. There were strong local traditions of wood carving and woodworking for architectural or ecclesiastical use.
Peg wooden dolls, also known as Dutch Dolls, are a type that originated in the relatively isolated Grödner Valley region of South-Tyrol/Südtirol (a form Austrian region, that is now Italian). Starting as lathe-turned dolls with fixed, immobile limbs, they evolved into jointed constructions, with the arms and legs attached to the torso by pegs. They were sold without clothes, to be dressed in home-sewn garments. As is evident from the name “Peggy Deutsch” for one of the main characters, Florence Upton’s The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a “Golliwogg” relates the adventures of peg wooden dolls from this tradition.
Production of these dolls was effectively a cottage industry. An early 19th-century Handbook for Travellers in Southern Germany (John Murray and Son, London, 1837) shows how important wood was to the local economy, although it does not mention dolls specifically:
A large part of the population of this valley are carvers in wood. The crucifixes planted by the road-side in every corner of Tyrol, the figures of animals of unpainted wood which fill the toy-shops of London, Paris and other European capitals, are made here. They are cut out of the soft wood of the pine (Pinus cembra zirbelnuss-kiefer), a tree of slow growth, found in very lofty situations, and now become rare owing to the improvidence of the peasants in cutting down the forests, without sowing or planting others to succeed them. The total population of the valley exceeds 3000 souls, and the value of the articles they manufacture and export annually amounts to 50,000fl.
It is believed that the wooden peg doll was invented around 1800, and Grödner liked to take credit for that (as opposed to other wood carving centres such as Oberammergau or Thuringia). But another source says the first lathe was not introduced into the Grödner Valley until about 1820, which suggests that the earliest dolls would have been handcrafted. Grödner certainly eventually became the principal supplier of Dutch Dolls, also known in England, a prime market, as Plain Bettys, Gretchens and Plain Janes.
The construction of the dolls was reasonably good, but with their wooden pin joints they were inherently fragile. Wear and tear due to the stress and strain of normal child’s play guaranteed a healthy replacement market. The volume of production was surprisingly high in its consistency. Doll production continued robustly up to World War I, but never really recovered from the total economic disruption that ensued. The industry then declined rapidly between the wars as interest in wooden peg dolls dwindled.
The peg-doll image became iconic through its widespread popularity as a children’s toy, just as later figures would achieve similar status through childhood associations—from Mickey Mouse, Brer Rabbit and Elmo to Super Mario and Pokémon characters in our own video-gaming times. And just as the Golliwogg image was appropriated commercially beyond its original incarnation in a children’s storybook, so the peg doll also had a longer history in popular culture through its use in non-toy items, such as the sugar tongs and salt-and-pepper shakers included in From her wooden sleep....
7.3 Curved glass haberdashery display case, French, c. 1910
8. Collection of seventeen fairground distortion mirrors, English, c. 1890–1930
Each curved (concave, convex or both) mercury-glass mirror housed in ebonized
wooden box frame; maker’s label: “T. & W. IDE, Glasshouse Fields, London”
Smallest: 59 (h) x 64 x 10.8 cm
Largest: 157 (h) x 65 x 10.8 cm
Thickness of mercury-glass mirrors: 0.95 cm
9. Primitive Windsor armchair, English, c. 1835; artist’s articulated manikin, Italian, c. 1800
10. Audience rows 1–3:
Nine children’s settles (catalogue no. 1937), Charles P. Limbert (American, 1854–1924), c. 1905
Quarter sawn fumed oak
Eight of the nine settles in rows 1–3 custom-fabricated from an original example in the collection of Ydessa Hendeles by Michael Buchanan, Toronto, 2013
The 9th settle in this installation is the original Limbert example
58.4 (h) x 96.5 x 38.1 cm each
10.1 Artist’s articulated manikin, English, mid-18th century
Hand-carved mahogany, with wooden ball joints reinforced with steel bolts and nuts; dimpled chin; sculpted rib cage and chest; articulated toes; fingers carved in the round
68 (h) x 20.3 x 10.2 cm
(Row 1, middle, 2/3)
Provenance: Collection of surgeon/artist Henry Tonks (English, 1862–1937)
Born in Solihull just outside of Birmingham, where his father owned a brass foundry, Henry Tonks first seemed destined for a distinguished career in medicine. He studied at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton before moving to the Royal London Hospital, where, in 1886, he was named House Surgeon under the eminent Sir Frederick Treves (1853–1923). That was the same year that, at Treves’s instigation, the grossly disfigured Joseph Merrick (1862–1890), who had eked out a sad living as a freak under the title of the “Elephant Man,” moved into the hospital to live out the final years of his life. It seems most likely that Tonks, mentored in this period by Treves, would have encountered Merrick, whose plight as a rejected outsider became a cause for some leading members of London society. Later in his early career, Tonks became Senior Medical Officer of the Royal Free Hospital and taught anatomy at the London Hospital Medical School. He passed his final exams and was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1888, the year he also started to take evening classes at the Westminster School of Art with Frederick Brown, later principal of University College London Slade School of Fine Art.
Brown subsequently persuaded Tonks to give up medicine and teach drawing and anatomy at the Slade, where he became a potent influence for generations of British artists. Tonks succeeded Brown as Slade Professor of Fine Art in 1918 and continued in that position until his retirement in 1930.
From the first exhibition of paintings in 1891 until the end of his life, Tonks put a premium on careful observation and fine draughtsmanship. He returned to medical practice at the front during World War I, but also produced a significant body of work (in the final stages of the conflict as an official artist) ranging from large-scale canvases documenting the battlefield to studies of wounded men for use in plastic surgery. Though far from an adherent of new directions in early 20th century art himself, Tonks nonetheless was a key figure in British art history for his influence on so many young artists over almost 40 years of teaching.
10.2 Audience rows 4–6:
Nine children’s settles (catalogue no. 215), designed by Gustav Stickley (American, 1858–1942), c. 1903
Quarter sawn fumed oak
Custom-fabricated from original examples in the collection of Ydessa Hendeles by Michael Buchanan, Toronto, 2010
76.5 (h) x 104.5 x 35.6 cm each
10.2.1 Artist’s articulated manikin, French, c. 1800
Hand-carved pine, with wooden ball joints and dowels; incised eyebrows; carved drapery around waist; painted head and face; fully articulated fingers
146.1 (h) x 44.5 x 20.3 cm
(Row 4, middle, 2/2)
Provenance: Collection of artist Arnold Machin, OBE, RA (English, 1911–1999), sculptor and designer whose effigies of Queen Elizabeth II were commissioned for coins and stamps
Born to a family of potters in Trent Vale, Arnold Machin’s career began at the Minton factory in Stoke-on-Trent, where he painted figures on china. He subsequently moved to the Crown Derby Porcelain Works and started to study art part-time in Derby. After switching to full-time studies, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, where his specialty was sculpture. The outbreak of World War II hampered his progress somewhat, though his early success won him a place with Josiah Wedgewood & Sons, which provided many opportunities to develop his technical and artistic skills. Besides his work for Wedgewood, Machin pursued his own interests, developing a flair for capturing the essential details for busts and portrait medallions. It was this facility that prepared him for his work as sculptor and designer of effigies of the Queen, starting in the 1960s. Machin’s portrait of the sovereign appeared on every coin minted between 1964 and 1985, as well as on postage stamps from 1967. He was also commissioned to design commemorative coins marking the Royal Silver Wedding in 1972 and the Silver Jubilee in 1977. He was an influential teacher at the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy School, where he held the position of Master of Sculpture.
11. “Skeletal” armature for artist’s articulated manikin, Italian, c. 1870; standing display case, English, c. 1875
12. Artist’s articulated manikins of a horse and male rider, possibly French, late 19th century
Unique extant example with original box, stand and locking key
Hand-carved walnut, with steel-screw ball joints; key-lock adjustable steel stand
Base also serves as storage box for the horse when collapsed
Original retailer’s metal tag on base: “Roberson & Co. 99 Long Acre – London”
Possibly made by: Pitet Ainé & Fils, 24 Rue du Faubourg, St. Denis, Paris
Horse: 33 (h) x 64.8 x 11.4 cm
Rider: 38.7 (h) x 12.7 x 6.4 cm
Overall height, including box/stand, horse and rider: 75 cm
Provenance: C. A. (Nick) Bell-Knight (English, 1918–1994), the first restorer and craftsman of the American Museum in Britain
The London-born C. A. (Nick) Bell-Knight went through a series of apprenticeships—including cabinet making, French polishing and upholstering—that established him as a master craftsman and restorer. He had already established his own business as an antique dealer and restorer when he was persuaded to move with his family to the derelict but structurally sound Freshford Manor near the English city of Bath, in Somerset, where he undertook a major restoration on behalf of the new owners, antique dealers John Judkyn and Dallas Pratt. Bell-Knight’s success with this project led to the invitation from the same two dealers to restore Claverton Manor, just north of Freshford and about three miles outside of Bath, to establish the American Museum in Britain. Judkyn and Pratt owned a major collection of Americana and saw the museum as a means of making it more widely accessible to the public. With a small team, Bell-Knight created the 15 period rooms that established the museum, as well as restoring furnishing and fittings. After the museum opened in 1961, Bell-Knight continued to develop other parts of the property and remained active with programs established at Freshford by Pratt after Judkyn was killed in a car crash in France in 1963. Bell-Knight would also establish his own museum of artefacts and collectibles, which he opened under the name of British Nostalgia
12.1 Manikin newborn baby, unknown maker, 1860s
Hand-carved ivory, unique, fully articulated with metal ball joints
With arms outstretched: 9.5 (h) x 9.5 x 1.9 cm
12.2 Celluloid pelvic bone, unknown maker, 1890s
3.2 (h) x 7.6 x 5.1 cm
Glass-dome display case with wooden base:
24.1 (h) x 29.2 x 18.4 cm
The components of an ivory manikin newborn baby, together with the celluloid pelvis, make up what is called an “obstetric phantom” — a tool for the medical teaching of the birthing process.
Its position, with arms outstretched, is that of a newly born baby, whose arms open up to allow the chest cavity to inhale air. This powerful symbol of life has its counterpart in a dark symbol of death. It is speculated that Christ died largely from the inability to inhale when limbs stretched open by crucifixion incapacitate the diaphragm.
Celluloid is the name of a class of compounds created from nitrocellulose and camphor, plus dyes and other agents, generally regarded as the first thermoplastic. Easily moulded and shaped, celluloid was first made as an ivory replacement. It is highly flammable and therefore no longer used.
12.3 Comic theatrical nose worn by Jester or Pulcinella character, Italian, c. 17th–18th century
Hand-carved pearwood, with traces of reddish-pink pigment and a hole in the top flange
Nose: 13.5 (h) x 7 x 5 cm
Nose with stand: 20.3 (h) x 7.6 x 5.7 cm
The nose would be tied around an actor’s head with ribbon threaded through the flange hole, which would then be hidden by an upper face or carnival mask
Pulcinella is a stock character in the commedia dell’arte theatre tradition, which flourished in Italy in the 16th century. The origins of the tradition remain a subject of debate, with some tracing it back as far as comedic genres of the Roman Empire. In its 16th-century form, it emerged as street or puppet theatre, and while improvisation was a prominent feature, stock characters and stock situations evolved. Three main role types included masters, servants (usually clowns) and lovers. Pulcinella, first making his appearance as such in Naples, apparently represented a put-upon servant suffering the demands and whims of aristocratic masters.
Traditionally, Pulcinella appeared with a long beak-like nose and was dressed in white with a black mask. He was characteristically devious, crafty, mean and violent, often angling to gain the upper hand by pretending not to understand what’s going on around him or what the other characters are saying.
From his early Italian origins, the character subsequently appears in variant forms across numerous popular cultures — as Polichinelle in France, Kasperle in Germany, Petruschka in Russia and, in perhaps the most-enduring puppet form, Mr. Punch in Great Britain. Punch had crossed the English Channel in the latter half of the 17th century. It’s thought that a line in Samuel Pepys’s diary for May 9, 1662, may be the earliest reference to a Punch and Judy puppet show: “Thence to see an Italian puppet play that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw, and a great resort of gallants.” (Accessed online, pepysdiary.com). Italian puppeteer Pietro Gimonde, performing as Signor Bologna (after his native city), introduced the first Pulcinella character in his glove-puppet performances around Covent Garden in the same year, and it’s likely that Pepys saw one of these.
The Punch and Judy puppet tradition became well established in Britain through the 18th century, though it wasn’t until the early 19th century that it was documented in literary and artistic form. In 1827, journalist John Payne Collier, artist George Cruickshank and publisher Edward Prowett visited Giovanni Piccini in London’s Drury Lane district. Piccini was a leading “Punchman,” and the glove-puppet performance he mounted for his visitors — much interrupted while Cruickshank sketched and Collier took notes — was captured in The Tragical Comedy, or Comical Tragedy, of Punch and Judy, published the following year. This is the first recorded script of a Punch and Judy show in England, though both marionettes and glove puppets were part of English popular culture long before Gimonde’s first shows featuring Pulcinella. Collier’s role in the first written presentation of one of western culture’s great dissembling tricksters is ironic since he later gained notoriety as a literary forger.
By Piccini’s time, England’s Punch and Judy tradition had its own set of characters (such as the constable with his truncheon and Jack Ketch, the hangman) and its own storylines. With his anarchic defiance of authority, uninhibited speech and propensity to deal with any obstacle by violently eliminating it, Punch struck a responsive chord in children and adults alike. His development and popularity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries has been associated with Britain’s rapid industrialization, increasingly violent colonial experience and the hardening of socio-economic divisions along class lines. Individual characters came to reflect social dynamics and tensions. The way Punch tricks Ketch into hanging himself, for example, resonated at a time when public hanging or transportation could be the penalty for trivial offences. The country’s fractious involvement in the slave trade is reflected in a Punch script in Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor (1851), which has vivid scenes with a black character named Jim Crow. Later scripts, reflecting British expansion in Asia, added a Chinaman character.
“As Punch puts an end to wife and child, black servant and beggar, doctor and courtier, constable and hangman, he puts an end to the society that gave rise to the repressions of gender, race, class and law,” writes Peter Linebaugh in The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century (Allen Lane, 1991). “This, so to speak, is the revolutionary side to Punch. In exercising his murderous rage against women, children, beggars and black people, Punch recapitulates, in the little motions of the puppeteer, larger, actual divisions within the London working class as a whole, in which rape, infanticide and the suppression of slave rebellion were mass experiences, recognizable and undeniable.”
Punch survives today, but differently and without any underlying dynamics of social protest. It is now pure slapstick entertainment, with Piccini’s Punchman successors — often called Professor and working puppets made for the trade— nonetheless providing one of the few living links to the age-old oral tradition of itinerant players, street theatre and puppet theatre.
The theatrical nose is presented in this show both as a way to breath in air and also as a way to block breathing. Additionally, it might serve as a cultural signifier, since nose shape is determined by genetic characteristics linked to each person’s family origins.
12.4 Miniature, apprentice-made cheval mirror, English, c. 1870–1880
Hand-carved wood and iron details in Regency style, with convex mirror
27.9 (h) x 13.3 x 9.5 cm
12.5 “Highway” mirror, Belgian, c. 1880
Circular convex mercury-glass mirror in steel frame
Diameter: 124.5 cm
12.6 Refectory table, English, c. 1620; twelve artists’ articulated manikins and artist’s manikin carrying case, 19th century; “Dutch doll”, German, 19th century; Shaker child’s armchair and Shaker miniature oval box, American, c. 1875
13. Industrial cart, Czech, 1986; 31 artists’miniature articulated manikins, 19th century; twelve “Dutch Dolls” and “Dutch Doll” objects, early 20th century; anatomical demonstration model of a pregnant woman, German or Austrian,
c. 1770; display case, English, c. 1910
14. Shaker tailor’s worktable, American, c. 1860–1880; “skeletal” armature for artist’s articulated manikin, Italian, c. 1850–1880; haberdashery display case, French, c. 1900
14.1 Fairground distortion mirror, British, late 19th century
(Separate example from the set of 17 described above)
Mercury-glass mirror in ebonized-wood box frame
68.6 (h) x 68.6 x 10.2 cm
The set of fairground distortion mirrors was made by T & W Ide Ltd., a well-established 19th-century London glass manufacturer, located in Glasshouse Fields in the East End Borough of Tower Hamlets. Founded by Thomas Ide (1832–1896), the company grew to produce a wide array of glass products for commercial and household use (such as glass shades for electrical fittings) as well as more specialized components for medical and scientific equipment. In some contemporary references, Ide is also referred to as a glass bender, a skill necessary for the set of 17 distortion mirrors in this work. The set is believed to have been part of the last original “Hall of Mirrors” travelling fairground show in the United Kingdom; it was also a feature at one time in Brighton’s Kings Road Arches, built in the 19th century and long the site of sideshows and public amusements.
Besides the set of fairground distortion mirrors, this show includes other mirror elements. A large convex outdoor “Highway” mirror hangs on the wall behind the refectory table, and there is a rectangular concave fairground mirror, not part of the Ide set, on the wall opposite. Both mirrors visually link different parts of From her wooden sleep… according to their surface geometries. On the refractory table, there is a miniature, full-length doll’s house dressing mirror, also called a chevalier mirror, while at the entrance, standing behind the small Beaux Arts children’s piano like an altar triptych or church organ pipes, is a three-part, flat-surface tailor’s mirror, marked from Paris.
Although the history of the modern mirror — glass backed with a reflective sheet — certainly predates the Renaissance, key discoveries in that period spurred its development and wider usage. Convex mirrors, of the kind seen in such artworks as Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Arnolfini Portrait in the National Gallery, London, became more common with the development of glass-blowing techniques, while the Venetians are credited with the commercial development (if not the invention) of flat mirrors starting in the early 16th century. Because they feared catastrophic fires in a city where wood was a primary building material, Venetian authorities had moved its glass manufacturers and their furnaces to the linked Murano islands, just outside the city proper in the lagoon. As the mirror trade became more lucrative, the Murano manufacturers enjoyed an effective monopoly and were in fact forbidden to share any of the secrets of their craft outside. Despite the strictures, Venetian glassmakers were enticed to France, where their expertise fuelled the development and refinement of glass- and mirror-making industries in that country. Mirrors were still luxury goods at this point, and, especially after the refinement of the polished plate glass process in France permitted manufacture of larger sheets, were increasingly prized features in high-end interior design. The most extravagant example is the late 17th-century Hall of Mirrors built during the reign of Louis XIV at his Royal Palace of Versailles. Each of 17 arches contains 21 mirrors, for a total of 327 along the hallway, which reflect the 17 arcade windows opposite overlooking the royal gardens.
The history of mirror making into the 19th century is complex, as manufacturers across Europe experimented with different raw materials and processes to find a manufacturing solution that was efficient, economical and safe. The invention of the silver-backed mirror in 1835 (credited to German chemist Justus von Liebig) met all three goals and was key to carrying the mirror from luxury good to the mass market.
The history of the mirror has been crucially connected to the evolution of our ability to examine and document our world and geophysical environment in increasingly fine detail. Beyond the physical sciences, however, the mirror has served as a metaphor for the way we see and define ourselves socially, psychologically and psychically since the earliest times. There are biblical references, as well as numerous non-Christian religious citations. From the 12th–16th centuries, probably spurred by the growing interest and development of glass and mirror making, there emerged a whole genre of “speculum” literature, named for the Latin word for mirror. With titles such as Speculum Humanae Salvationis (Mirror of Human Salvation), manuscripts or texts generally surveyed knowledge on a certain subject or laid down broad prescriptive guides to behaviour or duties. In English, titles included the word “Mirror,” such as Myrrour of the Worlde, one of the first illustrated books in that language. From Cassius’s enticement of Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar —
And since you know you cannot see yourself
So well as by reflection, I, your glass,
Will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.
— to more contemporary titles from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass to J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the mirror has remained a powerful and continuing literary symbol or metaphor for self-knowledge, self-awareness and self-deception.
In art photography, the Distortions series by André Kertész (Hungarian/American, 1894–1985) also comes to mind. Commissioned in 1933, the series of 200 female nudes explores extensively the perceptual effects of using reflections and mirrors. Kertész had first become interested in such effects much earlier, when he photographed a swimmer underwater. (There was a print of this work in Hendeles’s 2010 show, Marburg! The Early Bird!) Further experiments that predate the Distortions series are to be found in photos Kertész made in the late 1920s for Vu, the Paris-based photography magazine. In her show Realities (Toronto, 1998), Hendeles included a group of seven unique prints of a shoot acquired from the Vu archives featuring editor Carlo Rim.
In From her wooden sleep…, the visitor is invited to find and interpret his or her own image in the mirrors, all in the context of a self-contained world populated by other people and by otherworldly people and their manikin surrogates. Though they are certainly distortions of our known reality, the mirrors also serve as portals to a dreamscape world of fragmentary recollections and memories. The curved mirrors are analogous to the use in film of waves or ripples on water as a convention to cue a flashback in time or space. The eerie and ethereal effect of the mirrors is augmented in this show with reflections playing off the glass of the large curved antique and custom-made vitrines housing some elements when their interiors are illuminated and their exteriors are dark.
15. Primitive industrial stand, French, c. 1900; artist’s articulated female manikin, European, c. 1930
16. Anatomical model of a European Honeybee, German, c. 1920
Hand-painted plaster and paper, with steel supports on wooden base
Maker’s label on base: “Louis M. Meusel, Sonneberg, Thüringen, Germany”
Overall: 55.9 (h) x 53.3 x 53.3 cm
While most of the bees in the more than 20,000 species described are solitary or sub-social, three distinct groups of the Apidae family, including the honeybee, are eusocial. This denotes the highest level of animal sociality; it typically involves a multi-generational community in a common home, a clearly defined caste structure in which most individuals work for the direct welfare of the relative few engaged in reproduction (and hence the continuation of the community) and co-operative care of the young.
The honeybee has been used since classical times as a symbol or metaphor for industry and community.
In France, the bee is believed to be one of the oldest symbols of French royalty, dating back as far as the Merovingian monarch Childeric I (c. 440–481/482). A chance discovery in Tournai (now in Belgium) uncovered Childeric’s tomb, which included numerous gold and silver objects, including what were described at the time as 300 golden bees. On some accounts, the bees were the visual inspiration for the fleur-de-lys, which has been associated with French kings since about the turn of the 12th century, although the design has been traced back to Mesopotamia. Since Childeric’s tomb at the time was on Hapsburg land, the contents eventually went to the imperial treasury in Vienna, but then, in 1665, the Austrian Emperor Leopold presented the treasure to Louis XIV. The French king, however, then still in the first trimester of his long reign and not yet given to extravagant patriotic gestures like the Palace of Versailles and its Hall of Mirrors, consigned the gift to the royal library, where it was largely forgotten for more than a century. The Emperor Napoleon, searching for an alternative to the fleur-de-lys used by the deposed Bourbon royal family and looking to establish his own legitimacy and connection to a more ancient royal order, brought Childeric’s bees back to light and life. He had the symbol woven into his coronation robe, into his Imperial Coat of Arms and engraved on imperial utensils and household objects. Besides the eagle, the bee became one of the most important Napoleonic icons, though the emperor may have adopted it under a misapprehension. Some scholars believe that Childeric’s golden insects are cicadas rather than bees. Much of Childeric’s trove was stolen in the early 1830s, and only two of the insect figures were recovered.
While bees have been taken as a symbol of industry and good social order through history, the inclusion of the bee here is also to suggest a medical class for which the enlarged model serves as a teaching tool.
16.1 Sculptor’s adjustable tripod stand, European, c. 1880–1920
17. Painter’s easel, French, c. 1875; oil painting of a young soldier as sculptor’s apprentice, French, 1916
18. Butterfly-jointed hall settle, designed by Gustav Stickley, c. 1902
Quarter sawn oak
Custom-fabricated from a unique antique example in the collection of Ydessa Hendeles by Michael Buchanan, Toronto, 2013
161.9 (h) x 144.8 x 62.2 cm
18.1 20 artists’ articulated manikins, 18th–20th century; Santos head, Italian, c. 1840
19. Child’s Table (catalogue no. 639), Gustav Stickley, c. 1904
Quarter sawn fumed oak
55.9 (h) x 61 x 91.4 cm
Gustav Stickley and Charles P. Limbert were both furniture makers around the turn of the 19th century whose work exemplifies the American Arts and Crafts Movement. Stickley is the more important figure, his company’s introduction of the experimental New Line of furniture in 1900 doing much to launch the form and aesthetic of the style (also sometimes referred to as Mission Furniture). Based in New York State, the Gustav Stickley Company in 1903 became the Craftsmen Workshops and, while remaining primarily a furniture maker, branched out into other areas, including home design. Limbert’s enterprise was based around Grand Rapids, Michigan, and his output was often described as Dutch Arts and Crafts to recognize the influence of the large Dutch immigrant population in that area.
In the context of rapid industrialization, the philosophical aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts Movement inclined towards plain and simple design, emphasizing “honest” and quality craftsmanship to afford any household well-designed furniture that was good for the soul and mind. Stickley incorporated an old Flemish craftsman’s phrase, Als ik Kan (To the Best of My Ability), in some of his branding marks. It was a “back-to-basics” philosophy of integrity, of objects crafted with “honest materials and honest labour,” of furniture made with sturdy hardwoods in geometric and vernacular forms that primarily served function. Decoration was often limited to the natural look of the materials or to the details of construction—large key tenons or exposed joinery, for example. Much of the furniture, even the cheaper-quality items, lasted for years. Evolving to some degree out of Gothic furniture, Shaker furniture and Japanese designs, the Arts and Crafts style’s “form-follows-function” approach to design was also a critical precursor to Modernism.
American Arts and Crafts was a high-minded movement. The desire was to go back to a time when things were made by hand—the era of guilds. It was a reaction to the forces of industrialization and mechanization that were driving society in the later 19th century. The movement’s work expressed a wistful longing for an earlier age that valued individual craftsmanship and a lifestyle that was more in harmony with the natural world.
At the same time, as Kevin W. Tucker makes clear in his survey of the evolution of Stickley’s enterprise (Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement, Dallas Museum of Art, Yale University Press, 2010), Stickley and his designers were also keenly aware of and influenced by the work of contemporary European furniture designers, such as English architect-designer Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott (1865–1945). Stickley visited England and purchased furniture there, and the transatlantic connections of his approach were readily appreciated. Reviewing an exhibition organized by Stickley in 1903, The Rochester Herald noted under the headline “Arts and Crafts: Wonderful Exhibition in Mechanics Institute”:
Every bit of the furniture is made by hand. The big old fashioned [settles] and the goodly proportioned Morris chairs suggest some baronial hall or some rustic English country seat. There is a dining room, all furnished, every article handmade. It is indeed a revelation to one who has lived all his life in a machine-made world. (Quoted in Tucker, p. 44.)
The tall, butterfly-jointed settle from Hendeles’s collection appeared inthat 1903 show, introduced as a unique piece and perhaps made on commission. The only extant example of this form, it is the model for the custom-fabricated versions used in From her wooden sleep....
Even though most American Arts and Crafts furniture was built by machine, consumers believed they were buying quality, handcrafted products, usually oak with strong joints. Arts and Crafts furniture functioned like a sturdy protective forest. Although frequently slatted, seating designs also included oak “settles,” wooden benches with high backs as a protection from draughts, often placed near the fire in a sitting room. The kitchen was particularly important as the central hearth of a house, where food is cooked and eaten. The practical design philosophy was expressed in down-to-earth moralizing mottos, such as this one for the kitchen: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
The aesthetic colour palette of the American Arts and Crafts school was philosophically based and essentially autumnal. It celebrated the harvest moment in the seasonal cycle of Fall in the northern hemisphere, where everything is about to die in Winter. But every Spring, God, or Mother Nature, brings back new life, completing the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. This movement glorifies the glowing Fall fruits of the land.
The attempt to reconnect with some far-off, pre-industrial age is patently evident in some of the prominent design elements, such as the medieval-looking leather coverings attached by large round-headed nails. As Wendy Kaplan wrote in The Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe & America, 1880–1920: Design for the Modern World (Thames and Hudson, London, 2004), “Arts and Crafts ornament was thus meant to carry the mind out to the countryside, just as the historical inspiration of Arts and Crafts work carries the mind back to the past. Nature and the past were the twin dream worlds of the 19th-century Romantic imagination, the opposites of the city and the modern. Antimodernism runs deep in the Arts and Crafts.”
In the end, the American Arts and Crafts Movement was not commercially viable and devolved into a trend of the times. Handmade furniture was then, as it is now, costly. With much of the American furniture made by machine, the sturdy pieces had become accessible to a wider market, but never a mass market. That, ironically, became the preserve of the mail-order enterprise of Sears, Roebuck and Company, which was established in 1893. This was how most people outfitted their homes. In fact, by 1908, the company was selling entire houses as kits, marketed as Sears Modern Homes.
By the time Roycrofters founder Elbert Hubbard (1856–1915) died in the sinking of the RMS Lusitaniain 1915, the movement was already in decline. When Gustav Stickley’s Craftsmen enterprise went bankrupt in 1916, he moved in with his daughter, Barbara, and lived with her until his death 23 years later. Modernism and Art Deco had begun to thrive, alongside the return to luxury materials and design extravagance. After World War I, tastes changed and other philosophies prevailed.
Just a few decades after Stickley went bankrupt and American Arts and Crafts had gone out of style, Germany’s post-World War I sentimental and patriotic interest in folklore had its attendant back-to-the-land movement. The embrace of the völkisch, with its connotations of folklore and populism, comes out of the German term Das Volk (“The People,” as a national group). In 1932, Adolf Hitler conceived the idea of the Volkswagen (the “People’s Car”) at a time when only the economic elite owned cars. Hitler believed that everyone should own a car and enjoy it for vacation travel. He called the 1936 version of the car, which Ferdinand Porsche designed, the KdF-Wagen (“Kraft durch Freude” or “Strength through Joy”). His, too, was an anti-urban populism that aspired to a self-sufficient life in a mystical relationship with the land. Another good idea going bad.
19.1 Artist’s articulated manikin, French, c. 1630: child’s slatted folding chair, German, c. 1900, with artist’s articulated putto manikin, Italian, 18th century; panelback open armchair, English, 1809, with artist’s articulated life-size manikin, Italian, c. 1770–1800
20. Standing artist’s articulated manikin, with original supporting armature, base and locking key, Italian, c. 1800