Quaker Dolls

q doll imageSeveral Quaker dolls or images of dolls reside in the National Gallery of Art, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and other collections. They are made of china or painted wood, with a few  made of corn husks.  Material for their costumes is silk, organdy, muslin and linen.  The predominant colors are gray or drab, the latter a sort of yellowish-brown.  Though some are male Friends, they usually depict female Friends in bonnets, shawls and long dresses.  Most of the dolls were children’s toys. Some were models, called “babies”, used by seamstresses to show their customers, as Amelia Mott Gummere noted, “the latest in drab”. The dolls date from the nineteenth century, and the craftspeople are anonymous. The illustrations of them were created in the 1930’s and 1940’s by several artists, including Charlotte Angus, Mina Lowry, Jacob Gielens and Bertha Semple. The mediums used were watercolor, gouache and pencil.

The Quaker dolls are exquisite. Representative of them is the drawing above by Charlotte Angus. 

November 2017

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