Wednesday, December 30, 2009
This particular doll appears to be in excellent condition (the vendor reports only two tiny holes in the clothing) and strikes a dynamic pose. Most importantly, he sports the original tags on both front and back. The tag on the back indicates Napoleon was numbered 16-BB. It will be interesting to see how much he sells for as Klumpe dolls have gained quite a following in recent years and the character dolls in excellent condition have brought as much as $200.
Collectors of these dolls often collect similar dolls produced by Roldan, also manufactured in Barcelona. Roldan dolls are usually a little smaller, averaging 9" tall, but Roldan accessories are often more intricate than those produced for Klumpe dolls. More V-shaped eyebrows distinguish the Klumpe dolls from those made by Roldan although collectors should also be aware that these two flagship manufacturers were imitated by a dozen other Spanish toy producers including Layna and Nistis so positively identifying a genuine Klumpe or Roldan without labels could be challenging.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
I was just sent a news announcement about dollmaker Alesia Newman-Breen. I had not encountered her creations before. The article that appeared in the Baltimore Sun displayed an image of some of her celebrity dolls and mentioned her website. I took a chance that she may have created some historical dolls as well and visited her website to find out.
I was rewarded by views of several historical personalities she has tackled including Marie Antoinette, Queen Victoria (both young and old), Queen Elizabeth (I & II) and Cleopatra. Her dolls are very detailed and her facial sculptures are quite realistic.
"Each doll is made by hand with hand-sculpted polymer clay head, breastplate, hands and feet, and a hand-constructed cloth-over-wire-armature body stuffed with polyester fiberfill. The eyes are handpainted. All garments and accessories are sewn and assembled by hand. Prices range from about $400 to about $600 each. The dolls range in size from about 14 to 18 inches."
From her online bio:
"Dollmaker Alesia Newman-Breen is also an actress, sculptor, graphic artist, writer, wife and mother who lives in suburban Baltimore, Maryland with her husband and son. A longtime member of the Screen Actors Guild, Alesia has appeared in many films, television programs and commercials. She played a newscaster in the science-fiction film "Species II"and appeared in dozens of episodes of the long-running Baltimore-based crime drama "Homicide: Life on the Street'. Alesia's unique dolls were featured on the "Fresh Faces" page of DOLLS Magazine in November 2002."
I had a wonderful time the last time I visited Baltimore, especially at the Walters Art Museum, and hope to return before too long. Maybe I'll get a chance to see some of Alesia's work on my next trip!
Saturday, January 24, 2009
When the movie "300" came out last year, I posted an article about a OOAK doll dressed as Leonidas as depicted in the film that came up for sale on Ebay. This week I noticed a very detailed Ken doll repaint dressed as King Louis XIV that appeared in the current batch of auctions. When I checked out the site of the vendor I discovered that this doll is another OOAK produced by the same artist as the Leonidas doll I featured last year. A further exploration of her website, http://www.divine-dolls-creation.com/, revealed that the artist, Viktoriya Hawthorne, has actually produced a number of very detailed Ken and Barbie repaints - many costumed as historical personalities.
Viktoriya uses various versions of Ken or Barbie as palettes for her artistic expression. She totally removes all original factory paint then repaints the figures with artist acrylics and sealers. If a complex historical hairstyle cannot be achieved with the existing coiffure, she also reroots the hair, trims, perms, and applies finishing touches that may include hand-applied beads or braided fibers.
Originally a science teacher employed by various schools and colleges in Camarillo, California, Viktoriya now enjoys creating OOAK dolls full time.
As I browsed her gallery I was particularly struck by the detail and design elements exhibited by her Egyptian-themed dolls. They spanned thousands of years of pharaonic history from the first recognized pharaoh, Menes to the the most famous warrior pharaoh, Thutmose III, to the ill-fated Macedonian temptress, Cleopatra with various other monarchs like Khufu, the pyrmaid builder, Tut, the boy king, and Nefertiti, wife of one of the world's first monotheists, Akhenaten, sprinkled in between.
Of course I was thrilled to see her interpretation of my favorite conqueror, Alexander the Great, decked out in finery as depicted in Oliver Stone's film, Alexander. I have an Alexander the Great 12" "action" figure released by Dragon in Dreams a few years ago but his costume is not nearly as elaborate as the one created by Viktoriya. Whoever ended up with this imaginative portrait is a very fortunate collector!
Viktoriya and I seem to have the same taste in films and the actors who have portrayed historical heroes including Gerard Butler. I see she has designed an Attila costumed in royal Hunnic wedding attire similar to the garment worn by Gerard Butler in the miniseries Attila. This miniseries, although not warmly received by the critics is still one of my all time favorites along with "Helen of Troy", "Rome", and "The Tudors". It was my first encounter with Gerard Butler and he quickly rose to the top of my epic film heroes list! Although he gained star status with his portrayal of the Phantom of the Opera, I have not yet seen that performance. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed his work in "Timeline", "Beowulf and Grendel", and "300".
She also has Gerard Butler-inspired versions of Andre Marek from the film "Timeline", Beowulf, and the Phantom of the Opera. Again, I have a 12" figure of Gerard Butler as Andre Marek from "Timeline" that I was able to obtain from Dragon in Dreams a couple of years ago, but her version of Marek is also very detailed.
If you are not familiar with Gerard Butler, watch the following well done YouTube video tribute to his performance in "Timeline"
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The listing description:
"Napoleon is dressed in wool clothes, possibly leather boots, and carries medals of honor. The doll measures about 14" X 4 1/4" X 2" ( 35.5 cm X 10.8 cm X 5 cm ). Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica on August 15th, 1769 and died in the Island of Saint Helena on May 5th, 1821. Napoleon was one of the most influential and powerful military and political leaders in European History. Napoleon served as a General in the latter years of the French Revolution. Then, he ruled as a First Consul, and afterwards he crowned himself as the Emperor of France. Napoleon fought some of the most powerful European countries in the first ten years of the 19th Century and dominated continental Europe through several important victories such as Austerlitz. Napoleon was defeated at Leipzig and finally in Waterloo. He was exiled to the Island of Elba. Napoleon lived under British supervision the last 6 years of his life. He died in the Island of Saint Helena of stomach cancer, but some scientists claim he was poisoned with arsenic."
It has an opening bid of $700 - a little bit out of my league, unfortunately. The auction ends Jan. 26, 2009. Perhaps another art museum will be the successful bidder on this unique piece.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
I had never heard of Mr. Ames before so I researched his work and learned that he was talented young man born in 1824 who was thought to have apprenticed with a carver of ship figureheads or trade figures. Sadly he died of consumption at only 27 years old. But he left behind a small group of his sculptures, thought to number only 12 to 13, that provide an intimate window into the lives of, mostly young, 19th century Americans.
Another of my favorites is this sculpture of a young man that is part of the permanent collection of the Huntington Museum of Art in Huntington, West Virginia. Although it is unsigned and undated, the work is thought to be the work of Ames because of stylistic similarities with other signed work. It is thought to have been produced in 1847. The Huntington Museum lends a little more insight into Ames short life:
"Asa Ames’s (1823-1851) story is a fascinating, and ultimately tragic, one of an early folk artist. He was born in New York State, probably near Buffalo. Though his early career cannot be traced with certainty, by 1847 Ames was residing in Albany with a family, for whom he carved busts of three children. This was to be the pattern for the rest of his short life. Apparently suffering from tuberculosis, he spent extended periods of time living with various family members and friends, carving busts and full-length sculptures of the younger members of the household, perhaps in exchange for medical care. His work, of gessoed and painted wood, was characterized by a direct frontality with great attention to detail and dress. Sadly, he was finally overcome by his illness, and he died at age 27.
The Huntington Museum’s Bust of a Young Man (ca. 1847), though unsigned and undated, can be attributed to Ames on stylistic and other grounds. An interesting feature is a circular hole into which some type of ornament was originally placed. It may have been a medallion recording an academic, athletic, or other achievement. Whatever it was, the prominence of its placement indicates great importance to its owner."