A Black Painted Early 20thC Shop Display Youth Mannequin; c.1925-35

Origin: French
Period: Early 20th Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1920-30
Height: 30”
Width: 10”
Depth: 5” (all at shoulders with arms lowered)

The very decorative wood and plaster male youth form having articulated upper arms, the whole being very unusual in bearing a black/ebonised finish which is presumed later but with very good age, once acting as a shop display mannequin, the face with painted eyes and lips and surviving from early twentieth century, and quite probably France.

The mannequin is essentially complete with the extremities to some finger digits missing. The whole shows several knocks and losses which is part of its huge appeal. Many of the loose pieces of the eye that is lacking are provided if one was wanting to try and restore it, though again it does prove rather effective as it is. The black finish is beautifully craquelured and worn with age. It was almost certainly painted after it was made which would explain why we’ve never come across a black/ebonised version and cannot find a comparable example online. The finish is certainly very old in any case. One foot is marked ‘3’ and there is a bored hole with which he would have once stood upon a rod to keep him upright. As it is he needs some support under one foot to keep him upright.

Companies in this period such as V.N. Siegel of Siegel & Stockman, Paris, experimented with articulated legs, arms and wooden hands with bendable digits in an effort to more closely mimic human activities, and later in 1925, startled the display industry with modern abstract mannequins closely following the Art Deco style.

Proving both highly decorative and unsettling at the same time.