We are happy to put under
" Limelight "
this subject so beautiful which seems badly known and a little forgotten.....



"The French Dolls in Regional dresses, 1835-1917"

by Hélène Bugat-Pujol

         Now four years ago, Poupendol put on-line a study of Miss Marie Koenig's very beautiful book at the origin of the creation, rare in the time, of a prestigious  dolls museum. The book which had been of use to us as reference was already of Miss Koenig is entitled " Poupées et Légendes de France " ( Dolls and Legends of France ).  Published in Paris by " Librairie Centrale des Beaux Arts ", 13 Street Lafayette Paris.

           It is likely that it was edited on the occasion of the Big World Fair of 1900 if we judge it by Mister Mautrice Buchor's foreword which tells  how he took the decision to see representing these dolls there. It contains no date of edition as was often the case at the end of the XXth century and process only regional French dolls.

          During these last four years, besides the fact that this article was asked for more to us, it is one of the reasons for which we put back it on Poupendol, I had the possibility of getting  a second book on this very rich subject, always of the same author, entitled simply " Musée de Poupées " (Museum of dolls ) in the Editions Hachette, dated 1909. It processes Historic Dolls, peasant Dolls, Colonial Dolls, finally Foreign Dolls. It is a beautiful book gilded on slice too, more than three hundred pages. And every chapter is decorated with a photo of the doll which it describes. All are turned yellow, naturally, by time but we worked a lot the one who justifies these lines.

          You will find below the study published into 2004, which will be followed of an examination of the work of 1909 with the reproduction of a very beautiful illustration.

zzzzzzThe very first regional dolls date, it seems, years 1830-50 and were made in papier maché. However, from the production of the very first biscuit dolls in France, documents give evidence of the existence of these, dressed in regional traditional suit. So, in 19-th century, one proposed regional dolls as well in the French shops of dolls of province as in the department stores of Paris. It was moreover a market become international, remained very active until the neighborhood of 1890 when it has then, begun to fall.  

zzzzzz It is of this time that date the most important collections of dolls in regional dresses. Among the most famous, quote that always preserved of Madam Marin-Guelliote, I believe, in the Museum of Gueret, that of duchess of Rohan kept in Chateau de Josselin, and that of Miss Marie Koenig, called at once " Museum of Dolls ". It is indeed at this moment that this last one launched the exhibitions of dolls in local suits and that was created what one called " The Educational Museum " ( 1890 ).

ZZZZZZZ" To place Marie Koenig's work, general Inspector of the education, it is necessary to remind the birth of state education free and compulsory to which are attached the names of Victor Duruy and Jules Ferry, among others. Pressed on the network of the teachers of France and colonies, she had respite to collect dolls dressed in the various French regions. Taking charge of manual works for the feminine schools, she exposed at first, to the "Exposition Universelle" of Paris in1889, to the" Palais de l'Industrie ", in an entitled section " The arts of the Woman ", works resulting from different schools, as well as from dolls. Then she settled in 1890 a permanent exhibition of these objects in the premises of the teachers' training college of maternal schoolteachers, street Gay-Lussac in Paris. Then, she exposed in Lyons in 1894, in Rouen in 1896, even ......in Chicago to the International Exhibition of 1893 !
ZZZZZZ Finally in the World Fair of 1900 in Paris where this presentation obtained a Golden medal! "

Paysan Vosgien

Procession de la Fête-Dieu à Marseille, Chef des Bouchers OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Tambourinaire


LLLL In February 1905, Miss Marie Koenig even obtained a ministerial decree asking the teachers to make dolls by their pupils within the framework of their works of sewing. Marie Koenig was " Lauréat de l'Institut " ( Prize-winner of the Institute ), what at the time (and even now ) is not common matter for a woman.....

LLLLLL Success was immense and dolls streamed of all the places of France and colonies. They were realized sometimes by the pupils, sometimes by the schoolteachers, or the manageresses themselves......and even by the inspectors! "

LLLLL Dolls arrived all with index cards detailed on the history, the manners or the local activities, the names of the various details of clothes, anecdotes or legends on the made suit being often given in the used local language.... The most popular regional dolls and also the most numerous were the Breton and Alsatian girls, followed by the Provençal. They were also the heroines of different popular legends, as Mélusine (Poitou), Sainte-Énimie (Lozère), Rose la beurrière (Artois), the little Fadette (Berry), etc.

Jeune Femme de l'île de Ré

LLLLLL Birth, fashion and also craze for the dolls explain oneself by the development of the ways of communication notably of the railway - and of what we call today "tourism ". Movements made more and more frequent and if the Parisians who arrived in province were surprised and were seduced by the local fashion, it( did not go away also inhabitants of these regions which very fast evolved towards a stake more fashion and so "more urban".

MMMMMMDanger for these French regions to lose their identity and a wide part of their customs, manners and customs ancestral seemed very fast.



Vigneronne de Nuits


LLLLLL So the big Provençal poet Frédéric Mistral became attached very fast to the creation of the magnificent Arlaten museum which lives the day in 1899, in Arles so, as its name indicates it. This one had moreover already published a long and beautiful study on the history and the evolution of the headgear ...... exactly arlésienne from 1884 !

MMMMMMarie Koenig published two books to present these notes in an aim, at the same time, instructive, patriotic and moral purpose, reporting numerous interesting facts on the ethnographical plan notably. These dolls and their documentation are now in " Musee National des Arts et Traditions Populaire " of Paris (at present in process of move ).





LLLLLL Here is for the historic of this unique collection stayed in the annals of any serious study on the doll. Let us remind that in 1909, this collection had 460 dolls ! (Historic, peasant, colonial, foreign).
LLLLLL But the former beautiful dolls in regional clothes are rare today. They were often victims of the children, or the collectors themselves, who have taken off these clothes to adorn their babies and dolls of the more sophisticated clothes of the city. What is very harmful for the rich story of these suits, as for their beauty as for their often very elaborated manufacture .

LLLLLL And moreover, what were they?


Paysanne Brionnaise (Saône et Loire)

LLLLLL There were many sorts naturally, but among them, there was also what it is agreed for say beautiful, very beautiful dolls.
LLLLLL So a very beautiful auction Thériaults took place on January, 9, 2000 to the United States.

LLLLLL The dolls, more than one hundred ! were it, it seems, of   magnificent protected well examples. Among them, one Jumeau in suit of Finisterre sold $ 5000 against an estimation of 3000/ 4000,   one Simon and Halbig mould 1159,with a Jumeau body, in suit of Hautes-Pyrénées, estimated $1500/2000 part, she, in $ 3100 !.

LLLLLL Gautier size "16 ", about 1870's, in Breton suit, completely of origin, estimated $ 3.000/4.000 making $ 4.400, a Gautier of about 1890, size "13 " in suit of Poitou, completely of origin, labelled and in its boite ......... etc.


Joueur de biniou de Bannalec

LLLLLL This auction had been moreover preceded by a very precise conference on the History of the regional French suits given by Miss Anne Tricaud, Conservative of Patrimony to the " Musee National des Arts and Traditions Populaires " of Paris, where are still count Marie Koenig's dolls.

LLLLLL This same sale had also given place in the edition of a very beautiful book, with photos colours of all these dolls, book useful for all, collectors of dolls or interested on the ethnic plan.



Paysan de la Salvetat (Hérault)

Bergers de la Vallée de Bethmale (Ariège)

Dentellière du Velay

LLLLLLEnding this brief study, I wanted to privilege for the guests illustrations and so magnificent dolls which one discovers in the course of the pages of this miss Marie Koenig's magnificent work.

LLLLLL I wish you to find it one day...

LLLLLL It will not be easy but you will take there so much pleasure and will find there such a delight as I wish you the chance to meet it !
But I let with you admire these magnificent carvings....

Fermière de Saint-Acheul

Jeannette de Perpezat (Puy-de-Dome)

Marchande du Vieil Evreux

Costume Fouesnant (Finistere)

LLLLLL I do not resist to the pleasure to close this study, with a dictation made by a little girl, Eugénie Cotelle, 11 years old , in " 1-st Division " as one said then. This dictation is dated September, 20, 1882, the start of the new school year having taken place on September 5. It is included in an enormous binding of redleather, with initials in golden letter " E.C " on the first of coverage !

Read rather :


La Dictée d' Eugénie

" The doll tap.models ? "

LLLLLL " By going through during a week and a half World Fair*, I discovered among dolls noisy and adorned with rich toilet,
LLLLL A simple handmaid of the Calvados* *dressed in true Norman woman and next to her a Breton farmer. Late my mother liked seeing in toys these suits of our provinces, they teach the children that all the inhabitants of France do not wear black clothes and dresses in falbalas. By looking at them, their imagination travels and they become used to observe around them the differences of suit, language and customs. Here are good customs. And then this Norman farmer and this Breton look like so fair people!He is all in his sunday best this small farmer with his brown jacket and his white necktie.

LLLLLL But in the quiet and satisfied appearance one sees that he worked all complete week without losing half an hour. And the small handmaid! Look at this big shirt of grey canvas, at this woolen underskirt with black and white lines, these low grey and and these hoofs. Which good and frank rustic character, it is a nice girl, it is sure, cleanliness and laborious who has peace of mind and health of the body ."

LLLLL Here are true simple, pleasant and useful dolls.

LLLLL As for this scatterbrains which become starchy in their beautiful silk dresses, I do not want it for any price when one would send them to me frank port "

E. Cotelle

NB : I naturally respected scrupulously spelling and was not able to understand this syllable ' tap ' of the title.

*Allusion is made here for the World Fair of 1881

** Calvados : district of Normandie

July 2004

      If the subject interests you, I really recommend it to you. And among all these pages, there is a very moving chapter which I copied out in - extenso for Poupendol to share it with you.

      Surprising, moving, terrible history let us shall say ourselves, who gives some more of weight to this gigantic work that had begun this tireless, devoted and very cultivated teacher, inspector of the education and prize-winner of the Institute what was rare for time for a women.


   By Miss Marie Koenig

     (Extracted from her second book " Museum of Dolls "
Published by Hachette and Company in 1909)

        This beautiful doll was dressed in one of the elementary schools of Saint-Pierre de la Martinique, in the spring of year 1901. She had to remind only sunny souvenirs, and the good laughter of the girls which so worked merrily for Muséee of dolls of the capital.

            With which enjoyment the children had put on her attractive black head, the flat scarf which forms headband on the forehead, and which is surmounted by the point called ' provocation ' ........

            Every small cheerful persons had had the honor to cut, with good-looking scissors, the teeth of the silky steering wheel of the beautiful color dress of the rising sun; others more skillful, had frowned it and fixed to the skirt. Each had made something: a point here, a point there. We had been very proud to sew  the tie of the underskirt of muslin, to spend, around the neck of the elegant doll, the rich golden necklace which you can see. The primary school teacher, however, had saved herself the care of turning around temples these fullness of hair, sorts of pompoms which give to the hairstyle of the woman from Martinique a great originality.

          Oh ! As ready time, every body looked at the attractive doll, while she was placed in the middle of a sheet of white paper, on the desk of the teacher in ..........
We had friendly said goodbye to the doll, we had given her a graceful name, that of Josephine, so dear to Martinique. The girls had sung around her a rhythmical round full of spirit " As we would like to leave with you, small attractive doll had murmured some girls.... " ".... You will say hello to all the dolls of the Museum " had been the last words pronounced by a six-year-old girl completely drolette.

      Finally, the hour of the separation had rung, babies had kissed " Josephine's " hands. It was finished. In a solid cardboard, she had been packed-up with some pink paper, all the folds of her dress were pulled well, the doll had to arrivât without rustle; then, she had been put in an iron box, nailed and sent to the educational Museum with the aid of a young naval officer.

      This officer had asked for her to the school and she had to join to the Museum the sendings which he had already made, while he was aboard "Iphigénie" and when " he made his first campaign of Madagascar.

     It was the tour of the moms of the girls of Saint Pierre's school. As left the bâteau which took Josephine, they sang a naive lament known well in the Antilles :

Adieu foulards, adieu madras, adieu robes soie,
Adieu colliers choux,
Doudou ( ami ) à moi li qu'a parti.
Hélas ! hélas ! c'est pour toujours.
Doudou  à moi li qu'a parti
Hélas ! hélas ! c'est pour toujours.

Bonjour Monsieur le gouverneur
Moi qu'a veni faire une pétition
Pour mander ou ( vous ) autorisation
Afin laisser Doudou moi ici,

Non, non, non, non, i déjà trop tard,
Bâtiment a déjà sur la bouée
Non, non, non, non, i déjà trop tard,
Bâtiment a déjà su la bouée.

Adieu foulards, adieux madras, adieu robes soie
Adieu colliers choux,
Doudou à moi li qu'a parti.
Hélas ! hélas ! c'est pour toujours.
Doudou  à moi li qu'a parti
Hélas ! hélas ! c'est pour toujours.
    The " d'Estrées " on which was our young officer left for Terre Neuve ( Newfoundland ) at the same time as the Joséphine doll left Martinique.

   Hardly the " Suchet " , another cruiser it had just been able to replace the " d' Estrées " that the Pelée mountain made eruption and, in a few moments, destroyed the town of Saint-Pierre. All the little girls who gladly had worked to represent one of the indigenous women of the island, all the teachers, like all the population, were destroyed, alas !

  Only the small doll survived, continuing to cross the Ocean, and arrived intact at the Museum, well aprrès that the dispatches had learned in Europe the horrible cataclysm.

   A journalist, Mr Furetières, having seen the first the small doll, was touched, deeply touched, and called her " an invaluable relic " by dedicating an article full with emotion to her.

  Poor doll ! You see it here. Some small paper pinks were turned for it in a school of Paris. The Inhabitant of Martinique became a small person of which the sight draws the tears from the eyes; isn't this orphan, since all its small moms who had equipped it sosmartly died in dreadful cataclysm ?

   What to make? We for a long time had a nice crown of glass shots, threaded in hair, memory of a missing friend who liked Martinique for her plants and her richnesses! We then thought of giving to this small crown become funeral of the destination which you notice. Nobody better than this friend had made us like the magic island

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reserved copyright B.N.F. 1998 official list 4-D4 PER-88
Juin 2008