Thursday, February 16, 2006
Mary Branca's doll artistry featured at Superior Wisconson Museum
Doll artist Mary Branca produced historical dolls in the 1940s. Each doll is one-of-a-kind and features a fired clay composition head, hands, and feet. A collection of her dolls are featured in the Douglas County Historical Society Museum in Superior, Wisconsin.
The museum's curator explains, "Mary was born in 1893 to John and Caroline Branca. She was raised in Superior, WI., which is the government seat of Douglas County. Her parents were from Milan, Italy and owned a confectionery shop on the main street of Superior. Sometime in the 1920s Mary moved to Chicago to study at the Art Institute and later became a designer in a millinery firm. It was in her spare time that she made these dolls from her own formula, which she never divulged. She made their wigs, shoes, jewelry and costumes. When she finished a doll she sent it home to Superior, where her father built two beautiful cases for them. Mary had planned to create a doll museum in Chicago but never did. Her sister, Annette donated the dolls to us when Mary died in 1975. Mary was buried in Chicago.
This is one of five of Mary Branca's dolls that I have added to my collection. The others are Mary Queen of Scots, French Empress Josephine (wife of Napoleon), Queen Victoria, and a large doll of King Charles II of England. Most of the dolls average approximately 12" high but the King Charles II is about 17" tall.