Julia Norris; A Rare Collection of Five 19thC Folk Art Sculpted Paper Ladies

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Origin: English
Period: Late Victorian
Provenance: The Norris family by descent
Date: c.1880-90
The Largest: 9” x 6”
The Smallest: 5” x 2.5”

The group of five paper ladies by Julia Norris, each meticulously hand sculpted to form faces, bodies and clothing, each being wonderfully proportionate and exhibiting both the wonderful skillset of their maker and the craftsmanship of women during this period, each lady being fashioned with full dress skirts, capes, head-coverings and accessories, the group accompanied by with a portrait of Mrs Norris by W Foxley Norris (her father), dated 1887 in pencil heightened with white, and a photograph of Mrs Norris creating the paper ladies along with other documentation, the tranche of objects surviving from the late Victorian period and by descent from the Norris family.

The paper ladies are filled with some non-archival tissue to protect and help hold their form while stored. The paper used to make the Paper Ladies' is heavily acidified and demonstrates both some foxing and browning typical of the acidification of paper goods. There is considerable dust on the surface of each of them. They are in fair condition as per our photographs. The ladies would possibly benefit from surface cleaning and archival storage with preventive conservation steps perhaps being taken to limit light and humidity.

Julia Norris, who was married to the rector of Witney, Oxfordshire, pursued an unusual hobby with distinction - from a variety of papers prepared by long soaking, she modelled her paper ladies, fashioning their garments from another stock of papers kept dry and chosen for staying power, and modelling them with a knitting needle and Secotine. Mrs Norris sold these figures for charity and some were even bought by Her Majesty Queen Victoria herself. Julia Norris was a relative of the artist, Dr Thomas Munro.

Julia Norris' great grandson, David commented on Julia’s talent: "One talent she pursued with distinction. From a variety of papers prepared by long soaking she modelled her paper ladies fashioning their garments from another stock of papers kept dry and chosen for staying power. These figures were sold for charity and some bought by the Queen herself. The charity may have gained regal support from one of the rare moments of amusement or from the object's intrinsic merit of originality."

1.
Paper Lady with Fruit Basket: 8" h x 3" w.
Paper lady with head tilted to right shoulder. Her face and neck are sculpted and she has hollowed eyes, mouth, and some wrinkles on her forehead. She and all her clothes and accessories are entirely made from sculpted and wrapped paper. She is dressed in a long, light-coloured dress with multiple layers of paper enveloped at her neck. Her dress is covered by a cape made with a darker brown paper folded at top edge that runs from her shoulders down her body. Rounded gently around her face is a head covering made with a light-coloured paper. Attached to her waist is a twined, two-stranded paper rope holding a fruit basket made of layers of twined paper with a decorative handle and top edge made of two colours of twined paper. Inside the basket are small fruits and leaves.

2.
Paper Lady with Cape with Ruffled Collar: 7" h x 4.5” w
Paper lady with head upright and forward looking; she has a slight grimace on face. Her face and neck are sculpted and she has hollowed eyes, mouth, and some wrinkles on her forehead and cheeks. She and all her clothes and accessories are entirely made from sculpted and wrapped paper. She is dressed in a long, brown-coloured dress with a lighter-coloured apron with three layers of paper at its bottom edge. Her dress is covered by a cape with ruffled collar and ribbon which hangs down at centre, all made with a darker black paper. Rounded gently around her face is a head covering made with a dark-coloured paper. A larger, single sheet of light-coloured (similar to the apron) paper covers the top of her head.

3.
Large Paper Lady: 9" h x 6" w
Paper lady with head upright and forward looking. Her face and neck are sculpted, and she has hollowed eyes, mouth, and some wrinkles on her forehead. She and all her clothes and accessories are entirely made from sculpted and wrapped paper. She is dressed in a long, white-coloured dress with multiple layers of paper making up her dress skirts. Her dress is covered by a cape made with a darker brown paper folded at top edge that runs from her shoulders down her body. Rounded gently around her face is a head covering beneath a dark brown-coloured bonnet which ties at her neck. Attached to her neck is a twined, two-stranded paper rope. Glued to the front of her dress is a fruit basket made of layers of light-coloured twined paper with a handle and a decorative top edge made of brown twined paper. Inside the basket are small fruit and leaves.

4.
Small Paper Lady: 6" h x 2" w
Paper lady with head tilted to right shoulder. Her face and neck are sculpted, and she has hollowed eyes, mouth, and some wrinkles on her forehead. She and all her clothes and accessories are entirely made from sculpted and wrapped paper. She is dressed in a long, light-coloured dress with and covered by a cape that runs from her shoulders down her body. Rounded gently around her face is a head covering made with a light-coloured paper. Attached, beneath her cape, to her waist is a broom on her right side and a small bag that hangs on her left side.

5.
Smallest Paper Lady: 5" h x 2.5” w
Paper lady with head tilted to left shoulder. Her face and neck are sculpted, and she has hollowed eyes, mouth, and some wrinkles on her forehead. She and all her clothes and accessories are entirely made from sculpted and wrapped paper. She is dressed in a long, light-coloured dress with and covered by a cape that runs from her shoulders down her body. Rounded gently around her face is a head covering made with a light-coloured paper. Some bundles of "hair" appear to have once been attached are now unattached from the back of her head.

An important and extraordinary collection of unique English folk art, bewitching and enchanting and of museum quality.

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