An Amusing Stylised Mid-20thC Painted Papier-Mache Model of a Fly Agaric Toadstool

Origin: British
Period: Mid Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1950-70
Height: 20.5”
Diameter at Top: 23” (both approximate)

The wonderfully fun highly stylised and over-sized hand crafted and painted papier-mâché model of a fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria), in the distinctive scarlet red and white colourway with white spots, freestanding, survives from the middle section of the twentieth century.

Remaining in relatively good overall condition, the piece stands soundly, and in one piece, and there is some attractive wear to the paintwork. There are a couple of dents and small holes and the stem is slightly loose to the cap but nothing of major concern.

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.