A Large Stylised Mid-20thC Painted Plaster & Fibreglass Theatre Prop Model of a Fly Agaric Toadstool

Origin: English
Period: Mid-20thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1950
Height: 35.5"
Diameter at Top: 30" (both approximate)

The wonderfully fun stylised and over-sized hand painted plaster and fibreglass model of a fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria standing at three feet high, in the distinctive scarlet red and white colourway with white spots, having realistic ribbed body and base, the whole freestanding, surviving from the middle section of the twentieth century and from a theatre production.

Remaining in relatively good overall condition, the piece stands soundly, and in one piece, with one area of loss to the rim, and there is some attractive wear to the paintwork. There is some loss to the middle section to the top and chipping to the spotted red section; please see the photographs for a visual reference.

The distinctive red and white fly agaric is said to have inspired both Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Caroll's hookah-smoking caterpillar and also, the colours of Santa's suit. Fly agaric is toxic and was traditionally mixed with milk and left out in bowls to kill flies, which is where it gets its name and the 'spots' we see are actually remnants of a white veil of tissue that encloses the young mushroom, and can sometimes be washed off by the rain. This iconic mushroom was commonly found on Christmas cards in Victorian and Edwardian times as a symbol of good luck.

This is everything but toxic; a real bit of fun in a dark world.