We are happy to put under " limelight "

this badly known and a little bit unusual subject.....


Victor Hugo said of a small girl playing the doll that she satisfied the deepest
instinct of the woman. A small girl, indeed, indifferent to dolls would seem
abnormal as would be a boy who would not care at all about soldiers or ships.

zzzzzzzHer Majesty Queen Victoria died in eighty two years after sixty years from reign. She had become from the age of 12 years, heir présomptive of the throne after the death of her father. When she lived still in the very tense atmosphere of Kensington's old castle with her parents, that is well before to become a queen, the small princess Alexandrina - because she was called so (she will appeal by the second first name, Victoria, only later)-, appeared in first position in the hereditary order in the crown, but this place of choice was constantly at mercy of the birth of a heir Male which would have been better placed. Her mother, Victoire, and her secretary, the schemer Conroy, multiplied moreover sets competing for power, persuading notably the Parliament to nominate her as regent, - the health of the sovereign, Guillaume IV, being precarious, and trying and obtaining to force Victoria to submit herself to her will by agreeing to remain under her regent's custody until her twenty one years, (that is three years even after the legal age to acced to throne). Receiving few visits, Victoria, mostly only, had enjoyed to constitute a remarkable collection of dolls.

ZZZZZZZThe publication of an article in " Strand Magazine " in 1893, realizing those with that her Majesty had played in her childhood, had aroused a big curiosity and a lot interest. It was due , doubtless , to the personality of the Queen but also, certainly , to the feeling more profoundly anchored in the heart of the Britishs, their affection, their loyal interest in facts and gestures of their big Sovereign.
ZZZZZZ Child, the Queen Victoria was involved in her dolls and played with them until the age of almost fourteen years. They were small wooden dolls that she often dressed herself. She had a house in which she could install them. The future Queen saw suits that she had seen in the theater or in the daily life. She brought to it a big care, an attention and an importance . A moving and very interesting proof is found in what one could call " Archives of dolls ".
LLLLL These are in a common notebook, now a little turned yellow with years, on the internal coverage of which is written with the hand of her Majesty, in a childish but very clear style : " List of my dolls ".


LLLLLLFollows then by a delicate feminine writing the name of every doll, by whom she was dressed, what she represents and who, - although this is sometimes omitted. When the doll is a dancer, date and name of the ballet , what allows to determine the exact time of the garment, for example between 1831 and 1833. Among these hundred thirty two preserved dolls, respectable number, the Queen herself seems to have dressed at least of thirty two, the Baroness Lehzen having sometimes helped in something, act which is scrupulously registered in this small notebook. These dolls deserve really to be passed on to the offspring as an example of patience, ingenuity and knowledge delicious of a twelve year old Princess.

LLLLLL They are not that we call " beautiful dolls ". Not kids, not very pure biscuit, complicated mechanisms. On the contrary, it was, it seems, quite simple dolls which one could buy for some sous in any general store. At the time, beautiful dolls were not easy to obtain but it is as possible as the young Princess preferred these funny of small wooden creatures, finding them more suited for the representation of great names of history and theatrical, maybe...In any way, they compose the complete collection. They are small marionettes perfectly articulated in knees, in thighs, in elbows and shoulders, capable of executing all gesture or all attitude....

LLLLLL It is true that they are not esthetically beautiful. Face of German type with sometimes a clog chin, and a little bit too rightly nose.... expressions are very varied. But, with the exception of the height, which goes from three to nine inches, they are all the same. And if the pleasures of the imagination, the creation and the realization are delicious at the child's, the sewing of the clothes of these 32 small dolls was a particularly ingenious work for one so young child. There is no doubt that the Princess felt many of the pure happiness with her vast wooden family. One finds a very moving mixture of small childhood and maturity in their small faces, in reason of the combination of the small sharp noses and the brilliant and red cheeks , the wide eyebrows ; well separated on every temple, are painted very elaborated little curls old fashioned and gray while the rest of hair, deep black is raised with a yellow tiny comb, perched on the height of the head.
LLLLLL All the luxury was in suits! Clothes are realized in the most extraordinary materials : the most precious silks, the laces of big price, the small jewels of an infinitely delicate work, nothing was too beautiful for these young ladies. As for the worker who dressed them, everybody could not employ the same ! Think! The future Queen herself !

LLLL It was, at the time , personalities that we would call " very current ". They divided into great ladies, into illustrious artists, into simple farmers or handmaids... Victoria gave them indeed the aspect of the persons of her relationship or circle of acquaintances. Among the great ladies, the Countess de Rothesey, lady Brighton, the princess Collovowsky etc, quite splendidly dressed with their big dresses with trains, their wigs, their vast hats. Among the artists, there were the celebrities of the time: Miss Pauline Duvernay in fairy's suit of " La Belle au bois dormant " ; Miss Porphyrine Brocard in dancer's simple suit ; as for the dancer Taglioni, so famous at the time, she appears three times in different suits : that of Guillaume Tell, the Sylphide and the Bayadère.
LLLL There are also three men - there are only seven or eight in all the collection ( 1 ) and some delicious small babies, minuscule, made with tissue, with faces of painted muslin.
LLLL Mastery in dresses is really delicious : tiny folds finely sewn, very small pockets of aprons, quite delicately finished, until handkerchiefs lilliputians ! - of half inch - embroidered with silk initials red ; there is chatelaines of white pearls and gold so small as they slide by escaping from hands ; and one can only be again struck by the address, the dexterity and the indefatigable patience that had to possess young child !


LLLLLThe Queen Victoria played as every child benefiting from a liberal education in the middle of fleeting influences and fashions of the first part of XIX-th century. But a detailed study of this imaginative childhood shows us the scenes which affected her, the stories which enchanted her, the characters which retained the whim and have in impressed party the imagination. So, we find in the detailed study of this childhood, through these dolls, the qualities of self control, patience, firmness, tenacity successively shown by the Queen Victoria in the official part of her life.
MMMMMM After the death of her father the King, become a heir présomptive of the throne, her old governess, duchess of Northumberland imagined to use these dolls in a game certainly as funny as sewing but also at least as useful as the one to that they had both lent themselves until this day. To teach the royal pupil the ceremonial very long and very complicated of the court, she undertook her to repeat by means of the dolls.
And so, all evenings, dolls, provided with titles and with functions, were arranged on the big table of Kensington's dining room, and the governess, taking in the hand a doll dressed in the royal coat which represented Victoria, walked her in the middle of all these persons by making for each the reception to which one had right. And so the young queen was able to, at the time of the advent, to amaze all the court by her ease, and the ease with which she knew how to, from the first day, receive and treat each according to her rank.

LLLLLL This is History summarized of the queen Victoria and her dolls, history reminded in one of the biggest newspapers of London, " The Strand Magazine " in 1893.
LLLLL One very beautiful and very rare book that I have the privilege to possess was published at the time with the license of the queen herself - and corrected by her of somewhere else ! Entitled " Queen Victoria Dolls ", written by France H. Low, it is magnificently illustrated by Alan Wright of watercolours representing dolls. Some of them illustrate this article. This last one owes very also to the 1893 of " Mon Journal ", to 1901, always " Mon Journal " - Madam Annie Porot of which supplied me subject - and in the magazine " Doll News " publishedwith the U.F.D.C. to Autumn 2003 - Article of Martha M. Martin.

LLLLLL It is also History and its developments. But Victoria, who loved her dolls, was also a young lady accomplished and sensitive as we are ourselves in domestic and tinkled holidays. So, she introduced the tradition of the Christmas tree in United Kingdom, raising a beautiful spruce every year in the palace.


LLLLLL " One speaks still in the History of the time when the queen Berthe spined . Maybe, in several hundred years as we will be spoken also about the time...... when the Queen Victoria dressed her dolls. "




( 1 ) "There are very also some dolls which are men ; but we shall not speak about them because we do not love dolls with mustaches! " (Mon Journal 1893 )





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