An Early 19thC Italian Carved Wood & Papier-Mâché Mannequin of a Lady

Origin: Italian, Central Region
Period: Early 19thC
Provenance: Formerly of the Collection Pietro Vitali, Foligno
Date: c.1800-20
Height: 33.5”
Width: 12.5”
The Base Diameter/Depth: 8.5”

The beautiful polychromed and lacquered modelled figure, in full length, now wonderfully worn with age and showing the remains of the polychrome decoration, filled with twine and plaster, standing on a blue painted circular pedestal base, and surviving from the first quarter of nineteenth century central Italy as an alter piece, merchants display piece or Santos.

Condition wise the piece has some fissures to the surface as photographed with a crack to the waist. There is a section of loss to the base and to the reverse of the head there is damage with the innards being exposed. The hands are lacking, though she is stable and with the painted decoration beautifully worn to the whole she remains very attractive in her entirety. Please refer to the photographs for a full visual reference.

Mannequins have fascinated mankind for centuries. Indeed, these glorified coat hangars have a genealogy that goes back to ancient times. When Howard Carter opened King Tut’s tomb in 1923, he discovered an armless, legless, wooden torso, made exactly to the pharaoh’s measurements, standing next to the chest that held the ruler’s clothing. Dating from 1350 B.C., it may have been the world’s first dress form.

This piece is possibly a Santos or a depiction of a Saint; or is possibly a merchants piece for displaying wares upon.

The former owner of this piece, Pietro Vitali, had a long experience in the world of antiques and founded the company Tenuta Rocca di Fabbri in 1984 , where he mixed the works with the landscape and food and wine traditions of the territory. He identified in the area of Montefalco, the ancient cradle of vine cultivation and vinification, practices introduced by the French Benedictines, but then lost after the middle of the 16th century and re-planted vines with particular methods of cultivation, in order to produce wines that had the fragrance of the scents of this land and the elegance of Gozzoli's paintings. The interior of the Rocca, a 14th-century fortification, was restored to create a suggestive cellar, and the buildings within the walls were restored.

A beautifully time worn decorators’ piece.