A Decorative Early 20thC French Shop Display Mannequin Hand

Origin: French
Period: Early 20thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1920-30
Length: 11” (with threaded handle)
Width: 4”

The composition plaster mannequin hand in a theatrical position, showing the original painted surface and having a wonderful patination, survives from the second quarter of twentieth century France.

The mannequin hand is pretty much complete with its threaded attachment, the whole remaining very decorative and essentially sound. There are one or two losses as per the photographs with one finger having a hairline and a small amount of loss. The patination is pleasing and the piece has a nice texture to it.

Articulated mannequins were eventually made to closely mimic human activities and in 1925 the display industry changed with modern abstract mannequins closely following the Art Deco style. This hand would have been on such a mannequin. Over the course of the 19th century and into the 20th century the mannequin gradually emerged from the studio to become the artist's subject, at first humorously, then in more complicated ways, playing on the unnerving psychological presence of a figure that was realistic, yet unreal--lifelike, yet lifeless.

Lifelike, yet lifeless, indeed. Unnerving? We like the questions it asks.