One of my friends found and lent us an ancient Spanish post card, representing :

" Munyaques comprades per George Sand a Mallorca y donade a la cella per la seva neta ".

What means that Aurore Sand, the granddaugter of George, gave for the museum of La Chartreuse, the dolls  bought , towards 1838-1839, to Mayorque by George Sand. These dolls kept the former suit of the people of the island. 
These dolls have probably  head and wooden hands, we do not know  exactly, but let us take advantage of it to refresh our school recollections on Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, baroness Dudevant, called George Sand.

She was born in Paris in 1804, but she spent her childhood to Nohant, small village of Berry, west french country.

In 17 years, after several deathes of whom that of her grandmother, she becomes chief of the property berrichonne, and financially speaking, she is free..

She marries the baron Casimir Dudevant.

He did not speak me about any love and did not admitted ready for a sudden passion " but " I could not no consider  Casimir as the best and the surest of my friends ".
 They will have two children, Maurice and   Solange.

Jules Sandeau, an author of her friends, suggests to her collaborating in " Rose et Blanche ", a novel which will appear in 1831. She becomes aware then of her talent, by writing " Indiana ", (1832), only and under Sand's pen name (Sandeau's abbreviation).

She does not support any more domestic and narrow obligations, she runs away to live in Paris, because  " It is only in Paris, that a sensitive woman can know a passion without being checked by the male egoism."

She wants to be free as a man! It is  very badly seen and not understood at all in the good society of the XIX-th. But,  what import ! 

She gets dressed as man, looks for male friendships, provokes philosophic discussions about the " LUMIERES ", or about Jean-Jacques Rousseau : Is the man good when he is wild?

Her life style  scandalizes, even in Paris. After a turbulent relation ship with Alfred de Musset, she becomes, in 1837 , the mistress of Chopin.

To look after Maurice, her ill son, and Chopin, (He was phtisique ) George prepares a journey towards the sun, renowned beneficial. She chooses the Balearic Islands for the climate, and stays at chartreuse Valldemosa . It is during this stay that is situated the purchase of dolls.

Returning in France, George Sand organizes intelligently for Chopin an healthier life, spending the months of winter in Paris, and the summer months  in the Nohant's good campaign.

For the lovers, this period ( 1838-1847 ) is rich in an intense creative activity: " Ballads ", " Scherzo ", " Preludes ", " La Barcarolle ", among others for Chopin; "  Le compagnon du tour de France " (The journeyman) " ( 1840 ), " Consuelo " ( 1842 ), "  La mare au diable " ( The puddle to the devil " ( 1846 ), among others for Sand.

But the very difficult character of  Chopin , his moods, his impatiences, and especially the continual irritations against Maurice make that George Sand intervenes in favour of her son. Separation is inevitable.

Let us to others political George Sand who dreams and tries to spread ideas " saint - simoniennes " or socialists of Leroux,  Barbès  or Blanqui ; she goes as far as to create a newspaper, " The cause of the people ", of which title is already a whole program. The revolution of 1848, the putsch of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte breaks her last illusions. Political generosity results in the violence and in the balance of power.

She withdraws in her dear Berry and creates to Nohant a warm friendly atmosphere which seduces Dumas son, Flaubert, Gautier, Tourgueniev.

For all, she became " la bonne dame  (  the good lady of ) de Nohant ", looking indefatigably for the happiness of those that approach her

On June 10, 1876, the day of her burial, one could see, reunited, the farmers of Nohant and the Parisian celebrities. 

Flaubert wrote: " It was necessary to know her as I knew her to know all that there was of feminine in this big man, the unlimitedness of tenderness which was in this genius ".

Let us end with some George Sand's quotations, concerning dolls:
Political stork

" I remember with a more net way the heat which I took in the games which feigned a real action. We put the dolls in scraps, the chaps and the housekeepings, and it adorned that my father had imagination as young as us. He said to my mother : 

 " Please give a blow of broom to the battlefield of this children ....It  hurts me to see on the ground these arms, these legs and quite these red rags..... We did not realize our ferocity, so much dolls and the chaps suffered patiently slaughter ".
( " Histoire de ma Vie " -History of my life, II-th part, chapter XI, N.R.F, La Pleiade).

" What squeezed  really my heart during the first moments of voyage-2- (To Spain in 1808. The father of the small Aurore, 4 years old, was aide-de-camp of Murat) , it was the necessity of leaving my doll in this deserted apartment, where it was bored  so hardly..... The feeling which the small girls feel for their doll is really rather bizarre, and I felt it so quickly and so for a long time  that , without explaining it, I may easily define it. 

At least, for me, I remember having never believed that my doll was a living being: nevertheless I felt for some of what I possessed a real maternal affection. The children need to look after or to mutter, to caress or to break this idol of child or animal which one gives to them for toy, and of which one accuses wrongly them too fast to get tired. It is quite simple, on the contrary, that they get tired of it. By breaking them, they protest against the lie

How the child would feel sorry for this being who incites only his contempt? The more he admired it in its freshness and in its novelty, the more he disdains it when he surprised the secret of its slowness and its fragility.

I liked breaking dolls, and false cats, and false dogs, and false small people, quite as other children.

I liked breaking dolls, and false cats, and false dogs, and false small people, quite as other children. But there were by exception certain dolls as I looked as true children. When I had undressed the small person, if I saw the arms vacillating on the hairpins which held them to shoulders and the wooden hands to get loose from the arms, I could not make any illusion on it, and I fast sacrificed it to passionate and belligerent games; but if it was solid and made well, if it  resisted to first tests, if it did not break itself the nose in the first fall, if the eyes of enamel had a sort of glance in my imagination, it became my daughter, I returned it with infinite care, and I do to respect it by the other children with an incredible jealousy ".

But the Sand family  still retains us.

In 1916, (L'Art Français Moderne - Les jouets de France-, N ° 2, in September, 1916),  " Almost hundred twenty years later, Mrs Lauth-Sand, the daaughter of George Sand, created a doll in rag, of which one said that it was a " detail "of collection. Certainly, it is rich privileged  persons  who do not hesitate to pay a toy more than two hundred francs... Although it is possible to give an industrial character to  this production, to reduce the prices for it ....-we know that such is the intention of the author-, we consider those which were placed under our eyes as œuvres of art.....The young lady to be married whose dark eyes seem deeper in her dress of white muslin, the Persian bayadère, the gypsies in the brown skin, in the heavy bun dotted with a red flower, leaves in the spirit the souvenir of types met in the corner of some sunny street. …

She modelled, of an incredibly skillful hand, in rags covered with an embroidered crepon or with a skin of Sweden, these long faces with   the heavy chin,  languishing eyes.... The suits reproduced with scrupulous  allegiance, are for the greater part made with materials of the country, she pushed care not until cut tissues to respect the structure of it, and it is with short scarfs of neck that were made the shawls where wrap themselves these good-looking girls of Andalusia.

Albert BAZIN

Any reproduction rights (text and photos) even partial,
rigorously reserved ©   Albert BAZIN 1997