When I saw the Boudoir Doll, shown in the picture above, from The Strong National Museum of Play I was intrigued and reminded of the dolls I always had sitting in the middle of my bed. They were just some of my dolls and nothing as fancy as the Boudoir doll shown here. Plus, unlike Boudoir Dolls which were intended for grown-up girls, my dolls were those you would expect from a little girl. And, unlike Boudoir Dolls which are not meant to be played with, mine were played with and as a result didn't last.
According to their description: In the early 20th century, fashionable women decorated their bedrooms, parlors, and living rooms with large, often elaborately dressed dolls. Called boudoir, bed, flapper, smoker, sofa, salon, and parlor dolls, these long-limbed figures often sported lavish outfits with laces, ribbons, and ruffles. Exotic and a bit campy, most boudoir dolls wore heavy make-up and bore a sultry look as if they intended to steal a boyfriend or cause trouble at a party. The Lenci doll company made boudoir dolls depicting foreign costumes, historical fashions, Pierrot, smokers, and vamps.
Credits: Boudoir Doll 1925-1926, Manufacturer Lenci, Material felt, Origin Italy, Object ID 79.9868
My understanding is that Boudoir Dolls were popular from 1915 until 1940 and made by French, U.S., English and Italian doll manufacturers. The dolls were used primarily as bedroom decorations for teenagers and ladies and were characterized by painted composite heads, long thin bodies, long extremities, and adult features.
Most of the dolls were known as Boudoir Dolls, Art Dolls, Bed Dolls, Smoker Dolls, Salon Dolls, Parlor Dolls, Art Deco Dolls, Sofa Dolls, French Dolls, Lenci, Poupees, Flapper Dolls and Vamps.
They became very popular amongst wealthy women who often brought their dolls along to their seamstress when they were having an outfit made for them so she could create a mini-version for their doll.
As is the case with most of the dolls that intrigue me, I wanted to know more. So, I did a little research. Here's what I found:
One of the best websites I found for information on Boudoir Dolls was Jazz Age Club. They had a wonderful article entitled "The ‘Boudoir’ Doll Craze", which included the picture of the Boudoir Doll shown above.
According to their article: During the Jazz age, Europe and America were immersed in a ‘doll craze’. By the mid 1920s, all smart women had to have a ‘poupee’ doll and they were seen everywhere. They were not played with but were decorative or used as an accessory and took many different forms with a huge range of styles and costumes.....
Also: There were hundreds of different styles and treatments that followed exotic, historical, theatrical, foreign, fantasy or mythological themes. More popular inspiration came from the Eighteenth century of the French court and Marie Antoinette, the Elizabethan or early Georgian period, the romantic styles of the 1840s, Napoleon’s first empire, Pierrot, Harlequin, and Commedia figures from the Italian theatre, contemporary flappers with cigarettes, harem girls and flamenco or apache dancers.
The Wayback Times website had an article entitled "Meet the Boudoir Dolls, Classy Vintage Ladies" written by Barbara Sutton-Smith about the Boudoir Dolls craze before World War 1 here.
According to her article: Down the ages, dolls have normally been associated with children. They were made as playthings, particularly for little girls. This idea extended to "big" girls (grown-up ladies) just before World War I, when Paul Poiret, the Parisian couturier suggested all fashionable women should carry dolls. At the very least, Poiret said, ladies of social standing should have fashionably dressed dolls gracing their boudoirs or as ornaments in their drawing rooms - surprisingly the idea caught on.
Scott Publications produced a wonderful .pdf The Doll of Choice by Movie Stars and Naughty Girls written by Linda Wulfestieg about the Boudoir Dolls of the stars. If you would like to read that .pdf please click here.
There was an interesting "The Tale of the BOOudoir Doll" post here from the Royal Alberta Museum blog by Lucie Heins, Assistant Curator about a Boudoir Doll that was thought to be cursed.
Since I now knew what the Boudoir Dolls were, including one that may or may not have been cursed, I decided to see if I could find any antique examples. Here's what I found:
The beautiful ITALIAN FELT BOUDOIR DOLL KNOWN AS LILLIAN GISH BY LENCI c. 1934, shown in the picture above, was on the Theriaults.com website. How beautiful is she?
According to their description: 25" Felt head and torso with elongated slender throat, oval face turned languidly to the side, painted blue eyes with heavy eyelids, brown eyeliner, painted upper lashes, smoky brown eye shadow, accented nostrils of aquiline nose, closed mouth, blonde mohair wig in long ringlet curls with forehead curl, adult lady torso, jointing at shoulders, long slender arms and legs that are modeled slightly bent at the knees, loose hinge jointing at the hips. The doll is wearing her original four-tiered white organdy gown with rows of lace at each tier, multi-tiered ruffles at the bodice and sleeves, matching petticoat, panties, and chemise, stockings, blue felt heeled shoes, felt garter, fingerless lace gloves, matching bonnet, and ruffled organdy fan, with original Lenci label on the gown. Excellent condition. Italian, Lenci, circa 1934, the model is known as a portrait of actress Lillian Gish, although that reference does not appear in Lenci literature. Included with the doll is a studio photograph of Shirley Temple with her collection of Lenci dolls. It is curious to note that, excepting the Lenci dolls in nationality costume, the great majority of these had blonde ringlets and even a little forelock curl. Realized Price: $5,750.
There seemed to be plenty of antique Boudoir Dolls, especially on eBay.com so I decided to see if these type of dolls were popular amongst doll makers of today and was pleased to discover that reproduction boudoir dolls were.
So, I decided to search through Etsy.com. Here's some of the examples of the beautiful Boudoir Art Dolls for sale on Etsy.com that I found:
The beautiful Boudoir Doll, shown in the picture above, is from the ElenaDollmaker shop on Etsy.com.
According to her description: Boudoir doll (bed doll) one-of-a-kind. Traditional boudoir doll, the kind that were very popular in the early 20th century, art Deco style .
The enchanting Morgan Boudoir Doll, shown in the picture above, is from the LyulyukinDolls shop on Etsy.com.
I found the beautifully enchanting Marie Antoinette Boudoir Art Doll, shown in the picture above, in the RococoBarocco Shop on Etsy.com.
Since the Boudoir Dolls seemed to be popular art dolls being made by doll artists of today I figured there had top be plenty of patterns out there showing you how to make a Boudoir Doll of your own. Here's what I found:
There were several websites selling vintage Boudoir Doll patterns.
PaulasDollHouse Shop on Etsy.com had the Cloth Doll Patterns pdf download - VPC No. 3 Boudoir Bed Doll Butterick Pattern Four French Dolls and Their Clothes - French Boudoir Doll, shown in the picture above.
French Boudoir patterns on the Old Doll Patterns website.
Boudoir Doll Patterns on the Gails Vintage Doll Patterns website.
I found several Boudoir Doll Patterns from Fran Banas on the Vintage Gatherings website.
The Lynne's Dolls website had a pattern for making the Elouise Boudoir Doll, shown in the picture above.
The ClothDollPatterns website had a pattern by Patti Culea for making the Jiliana: A 21st Century Boudoir Doll, shown in the picture above.
Two websites offered classes in making a Boudoir Doll.
Judi Ward has a MILLI' CLOTH DOLL CLASS on the Clothdollmarket website to make the doll shown in the picture above.
Shelly Lampshire has a class on the Doll Street Dreamers website to make the Boudoir Belles doll, sown in the picture above.
One website offered a Boudoir Doll kit.
LaurelLeaf.com has a Fancy Doll Boudoir Kit to make the doll shown in the picture above.
For sure the Boudoir Dolls above are nothing like the dolls I had sitting on my bed during my childhood. Unlike my dolls they are meant for sitting - no touching!