A Scarce c.1880 French Composition Clown Doll

Origin: French
Period: 3rd Republic
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1880
Height: 16.75 inches
Width: 5 inches (at extremities)

Modelled as a clown, or Pierrot, having painted features including a painted orange cap, typically brightly adorned face make up, the body jointed at the shoulders, head, hands and hips, the whole wearing his original bone and pink printed fabric clown suit with lace ruff and pom-poms, surviving from the last quarter of nineteenth century France.

The condition of the doll would be described as good and he remains in original un-restored or un-meddled with order, the costume is slightly tired in places and has some discolouration to parts but does not suffer from loss or damage with all his pom-poms in tact. The painted face has some light chipping to his extremities whilst the hands are all in tact. Each of his many joints are working soundly.

London entertainer Joseph Grimaldi was said to have invented the modern clown in the early 1800s. Grimaldi performed physical comedy while wearing white face paint with red patches on his cheeks and bizarre colorful costumes. Around the same time in France, everyone was laughing at Jean-Gaspard Deburau's Pierrot, a clown character with a white face, black eyebrows and red lips — one of the first professional silent mimes. French literary critic Edmond de Congourt said in 1876 that "the clown's art is now rather terrifying and full of anxiety and apprehension, their suicidal feats, their monstrous gesticulations and frenzied mimicry reminding one of the courtyard of a lunatic asylum.”

It is much easier to find clown or pierrot dolls from the early to mid twentieth century than it is of the nineteenth century and most of these aren’t jointed like this one nor do they have nearly as much painted detail or as high a build quality as this particular example.

Love or hate clowns this fool is of undoubtedly high quality and proves equally as hard to find.