FALLS CHURCH, Va. – On April 15, Quinn’s Auction Galleries, in partnership with LiveAuctioneers, will conduct a 392-lot online sale of collectible dolls, antiques, militaria, and fine and decorative arts. Bidders may view the fully illustrated catalog and bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
The highlight of the auction is a single-owner collection of dolls and automata, with dates of manufacture ranging from the mid-19th century to present day. Antique makers include some of the greatest names of their era: Jumeau, Gaultier, Vichy and Lambert. The modern doll selection features coveted designs by Francirek & Oliveira, and Koukinova.
Featured: Desirable grouping of 19th-century French automata by premier makers
Automata are early wind-up dolls that were made as showpieces rather than playthings. Like the fine-quality dolls produced in the 19th century, automata were dressed in expensive fabrics – silk and lace, in particular – to reflect the taste for high fashion during that period. Automata depicting women were dressed in a style that was faithful to what real women would have worn, including the underlayers: underskirts, petticoats, panniers, etc.
The automata in Quinn’s auction are primarily the designs of famous makers, e.g., Vichy and Lambert. In the doll selection, there are beautiful examples by Jumeau, Gaultier, and Barrois. These older dolls are primarily composed of bisque porcelain with either linen, kid leather, or wooden bodies; hand-painted faces, and wigs made from mohair as opposed to human hair, which is more typically used in modern examples.
Among the highlights is a Gustav Vichy wheeled automaton known as The Waltzing Couple (shown at top of page). It has a tag with provenance stating it was in the same family for 130 years. A paper note handwritten in 1959 and attached to the automaton’s metal cone states that in 1880 “mon grand-pere Jules Boissier” brought some dolls from Paris to his six-year-old daughter Caroline, adding that it had passed down in the Boissier family to Isabelle Clerc, the great great granddaughter of Jules Boissier, and was given to her for Christmas 1956. The original family consigned The Waltzing Couple to Theriault’s, and Quinn’s now offers it on behalf of the buyer’s estate.
A circa-1870 French bisque poupee by Gaultier was formerly in the collection of Legoland Museum of Antique Dolls. Elegantly dressed in ivory brocade and sienna velvet, the fully articulated doll was featured on the cover of the museum’s brochure, per information previously provided by Theriault’s. Estimate $3,000-$5,000
Some of the modern (1980s to present day) dolls are either artists’ proofs or one-of-a-kind and made by famous dollmakers like Tom Francirek (who works for Madame Tussauds), Paul Crees, and Alexandra Koukinova.
A notable artist’s proof by Alexandra Koukinova re-creates a photo shoot with Russian silent film star, Vera Holodnaya. The doll’s dress, like those of 19th-century luxury dolls, is made of silk and is detailed with hand-stitched beading. Additionally, the doll reflects the European tradition of artfully hand-painted faces. Estimate: $200-$300
Carrying a modest group estimate of $100-$200 but having the potential to deliver a surprise selling price on auction day are four 1990 limited edition or one-of-a-kind dolls by Paul Crees. He is known for creating lookalikes of famous actresses such as Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh, as well as historical figures. Crees’ Marie Antoinette is garbed in silk, and his 1990s version of Guinevere is styled with curly hair, similar to that of Maid Marian in the Robin Hood films “Prince of Thieves” and “Men in Tights.” Each doll stands 28 inches tall.
Quinn’s is known for its sales of fine and decorative art from estates in the Washington, DC and Mid-Atlantic region. The April 15 auction includes many interesting and appealing antiques, such as a pre-1908 Imperial Russian enamel goldwash 916.6 silver tea strainer by Ivan Petrovich Khlebnikov, Moscow, which is estimated at $600-$900. A pair of St Louis frosted hurricane lustre candleholders, each with a dolphin-form base and etched shade, will be offered together with a $200-$400 estimate.
Quinn’s Wednesday, April 15 online-only auction is open for absentee bidding now, with live online bidding available on auction day, through LiveAuctioneers. For additional information about any item in the sale, email Kevin Chevalier at Kevin.Chevalier@quinnsauction.com. Visit Quinn’s online at www.quinnsauction.com.