|Rare 1914 bisque doll sells for $168,000 at Frasher’s auction|
|Wednesday, 27 July 2011 16:12|
Photos courtesy of Frasher's Doll Auctions
An extremely rare 1914 bisque portrait doll sold for $168,000 (inclusive of 12% buyer’s premium) at Frasher’s Doll Auctions July 9 auction in Kansas City, Mo. Sculpted by renowned French artist Albert Marque (1872-1939), the doll was originally commissioned for the Paris boutique Margaine-Lacroix. The buyer, who beat out four phone bidders and additional on-site bidders at the KCI-Expo Center was new to Frasher’s client roster.
“The winning bidder is a collector of French dolls and German character dolls, and they obviously go for the very best,” said Barbara Frasher, president of Frasher’s Doll Auctions.
As noted by doll historians, during World War I, Albert Marque was persuaded by Parisian couturier Jeanne Margaine-LaCroix to sculpt 100 fashion dolls, each signed, numbered, and clothed in a custom-designed costume representing royalty or a particular region of France. The 22-inch dolls were celebrated by the French not only as important artworks but also as cultural icons that stood up to the influx of wartime dolls from Germany.
The “A. Marque” doll in Frasher’s sale was numbered 12, making it a very early and desirable example. “I have only seen two other A. Marque dolls at auction with an earlier number,” said Frasher. “While it’s been said that 100 of these dolls were commissioned, that number is speculative. The highest number I have ever seen on this type of doll was around 60.”
Frasher said the quality of sculpting on the doll is “exquisite … You can tell it was the work of an accomplished sculptor, not only from the quality of the doll’s head, but also the hands. The bisque head and limbs were added to a uniquely flared torso designed by French artist Aristodema Botta. The entire presentation is very unusual.” The doll was a popular attraction at the auction preview, Frasher said, because many collectors had never before had the opportunity to examine a rare A. Marque doll in person.
In 1993, Frasher’s made headlines with another French doll. The rare, 23½-inch exhibition model depicting an elegant Creole lady was produced by Jumeau expressly for the 1884 World Exposition in New Orleans. At Frasher’s, it sold for $231,000, and in so doing, set a world auction record for a French doll — a record that remained unchallenged for 17 years.
The A. Marque doll sold July 9 came from one of three private collections featured in Frasher’s 277-lot sale. After the event, which grossed $418,670, dolls were shipped to buyers throughout the United States as well as to Russia, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.Barbara Frasher noted that approximately 20% to 25% of the sale was sold over the phones, with significant underbidding from the Internet. The top lot purchased online through LiveAuctioneers.com was a circa-1880 French bisque, wood-bodied fashion doll attributed to Louis Doleac, which realized $10,305.
Other highlights from the sale include:
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