What is a Doll?

How long have we had this love affair with Dolls?

Pearls of Wisdom:

New World Dictionary describes a doll as - "a child's toy, puppet, marionette, etc. made to resemble a human being."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Adelina Patti "The Last Rose of Summer" (1905)

Patti as "Violetta"

Patti, ca. 1854

Adelina and her brother Carlo, ca. 1856

She was born Adela Juana Maria Patti, on February 19 1843, the last child of tenor Salvatore Patti (1800–1869) and soprano Caterina Barilli (died 1870). Her Italian parents were working in Madrid, Spain, at the time of her birth. She was the greatest soprano of her day, and will always be associated with her castle in the Upper Swansea Valley.

Patti "Family Portrait" Salvatore, Caterina, Adelina and Carlo Patti.

Pears soap label with Adelina Patti's image.

Adelina Patti was a world famous opera singer who was born in Madrid, Spain. Patti began as a child performer at age eight and she spent her life touring all over the world as a concert star. Her 1861 Covent Garden debut, as Amina in Bellini's "La Sonnambula," established her as a prima donna. Patti was renowned for her unerring self-confidence, fine ear and intonation, and effortless flexibility.

Adelina Patti was raised in New York, and gave her first concert there at the age of seven.
Patti first sang at Covent Garden, London, in 1861. From then on, her international career was assured. As a bel canto coloratura soprano she had no rival. Giuseppe Verdi thought she was the greatest singer he had ever heard. Wherever she sang, the public adored her, and she made a fortune.

Patti as Marguerite

Patti as "Lucie De Lammemoor"

From the Alt, Beck and Gottschalk porcelain factories in Nauendorf... Adelina Patti china shoulder head doll.

Stunning "Simon and Halbig" Adelina Patti with pierce ears, beautiful velvet and antique lace gown. Doll is wearing antique earrings and necklace.

Ernest Nicolini (23 Feb 1834 - 19 Jan 1898): French tenor. Debut Paris (Opéra-Comique) in Halévy's Mousquetaires de la Reine. First London Lohengrin, Pery (Gomes's Il Guarany), and Radamès. He performed frequently with Adelaina Patti. (1886).

Patti and Nicolini as "Romeo and Juliet"

After her first marriage to the Marquis of Caux failed, Adelina Patti took a lover, French tenor Ernest Nicolini, who she later married. In search of privacy, and good trout-fishing for Nicolini, she bought a Welsh country house overlooking the River Tawe near Penwyllt, on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. She named the plain, four-square house Craig-y-Nos: the Rock of Night.

The Diva was kind and generous but somewhat temperamental, calling everyone ‘darling or devil as the mood dictated’. Very devout, she was said to be the singer with a flawless voice and personality to match.

The death of Nicholini brought great change in the life of Patti and her castle. She was 56 years old and was soon to meet Baron Rolf Cederstrom, a Swedish nobleman 26 years her junior. They were married in the Catholic Church at Brecon on the 25th January 1899 and returned to Craig-y-nos. It is said that these were the most fulfilling years of her life. They were married until her death in 1919.

Patti was devoted to her home in Wales, giving annual charity concerts for the poor. Her generosity made her loved and admired, however much people smiled at her regal manner.

She spent 40 years and £100,000 (several million in today's terms) making it over it as a Gothic castle. She added a clock tower, two turreted wings, a greenhouse filled with cockatoos and parakeets, and a 150-seat theatre.

The act-drop in the Patti Theatre depicts Adelina as Semiramide.

The Patti Theatre was dedicated in August 1891. It is still very much in use today. With blue silk plush curtains, her monogram in gold over the proscenium arch, and an act-drop curtain showing Patti in a chariot as Semiramide, it was designed as a shrine to the diva.
When Adelina Patti held court at Craig-y-Nos, the theatre was the centre of events. She performed there privately long after her official retirement. Guests and servants would assemble to see her sing her great roles. Her butler - who couldn't sing - would mime the male roles.

Patti died at Craig-y-Nos on 27 September 1919. Her greatest memorials are her recordings now remastered on CD. Among her many portraits, the ones in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, the Guildhall, Brecon, and the National Portrait Gallery, London, give an idea of her beauty.
Although the famous greenhouse was moved to Swansea and renamed the Patti Pavilion, Craig-y-Nos, her fantasy castle, still has its gardens and theatre.

"Adelina Patti " by Franz Xavier Winterhalter ca. 1863

Like many prima donnas, Patti was probably a creature of the stage and song. She came alive the most when she was singing -- she even built a private theatre in her home to entertain guests with her singing. Her personal life, although much discussed, comes across as rather shallow and artificial. She married three times, there is however no evidence she was ever in love--- indeed she seemed mainly attracted to fawning eccentrics. Her last years seem to have been lonely, and ultimately Patti is still a mystery.

This is a 16 inch all original china head doll known as Adelina Patti. Her perfect china head is on a cloth body. Her original dotted Swiss cotton gown is finished with silk cummerbund and ruching at the neckline. Her face painting suggests she was made by Conta & Boehme. She has the characteristic sleepy eyes with no outline or highlight and the classic dark line separating the lips.

Adelina Patti was (1843-1919) was a contemporary of Jenny Lind. She was a coloratura soprano called the greatest singer by Verdi. "photos provided by Joy's Antique Dolls http://www.joysantiquedolls.com/ ".

The hairstyle is similar to one worn by Adelina in a performance as Marguerite in Faust in 1875. "photos provided by Joy's Antique Dolls http://www.joysantiquedolls.com/ ".

Steinway piano advertisement

Her recordings, made when she was in her 60s, tell more of the story -- the charm, the emotional involvement, the uniquely haunting sound, and as it is often the truth with most opera singers, really "hearing, one can believe." From Adelina Patti “Queen of Hearts” Patti had no children, but was close to her nieces and nephews. The Tony Award-winning Broadway actress and singer Patti LuPone is a great-grand niece and namesake.

The ghost of Patti is said to haunt the castle, and her disembodied voice is reputed to have been heard in its theatre. On one occasion, a media crew was recording an interview at the castle, and while in the kitchen, they were discussing the fact that Patti had never mastered the role of Carmen ... when, suddenly, a heavy saucepan flew on to the floor, reportedly without human intervention.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Through the Looking Glass and what Alice Found There

Alice Pleasance Liddell ( 4 May 1852 – 16 November 1934), known for most of her adult life by her married name, Alice Hargreaves, inspired the children's classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, whose protagonist was named after her.

Alice Pleasance Liddell was born on May 4th 1852, to Henry George Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and his wife Lorina Hanna, she was the fourth of their 10 children and had large blue eyes and a cherubic oval face.
She had two older brothers and an older sister, plus six younger siblings. Two of her brothers died young. Alice grew up primarily in the company of the two sisters nearest to her in age: Lorina, who was three years older, and Edith, who was two years younger.

Alice and her sisters Lorina and Edith.

When Alice Liddell was a young woman, she set out on a grand tour of Europe with Lorina and Edith. Edith died on 26 June 1876, possibly of measles or peritonitis (accounts differ), shortly before she was to be married to Aubrey Harcourt, a cricket player. Alice Liddell married Reginald Hargreaves, also a cricket player, on 15 September 1880, at the age of 28 in Westminster Abbey.

They had three sons, but two were killed in action in World War I. After her husband's death, the cost of maintaining their home, Cuffnells, was such that she deemed it necessary to sell her copy of Alice's Adventures Under Ground. The manuscript fetched £15,400, nearly four times the reserve price given it by Sothesby’s auction house. Eventually the book was presented to the British people "in recognition of Britain's courage in facing Hitler before America came into the war." The manuscript now resides in the British Library.

"I can't go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then." Lewis Carroll

"Self portrait"

Alice in Wonderland grew out of Charles Dodgson's (writing under the pen name Lewis Carroll) imagination, as he invented stories for the entertainment of children..
Having been the eldest son with eight younger brothers and sisters. He had a natural affinity for children. He also spoke naturally and easily to them, a relief to him since he suffered from a bad stammer.

Charles Ludwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) 31 years old, by O.G. Rejlander at 28 March 1863

The family met Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, while he was photographing the cathedral on 25 April 1856. He would take the family on boat trips and picnics to the scenic areas around Oxford to while away the time, entertained with stories and used them as subjects for his hobby, photography. It has often been stated that Alice was clearly his favorite subject in these years, but there is very little evidence to suggest that this is so. Dodgson's diaries from 18 April 1858 to 8 May 1862 are missing.

Origin of Alice in Wonderland

Kister china "Alice" ca. 1862

Alice Liddell as a young woman.

Alice as the "Queen of the May" photographed by Lewis Carroll.

Advice from the carterpillar...Illustration by John Tenniel.

Alice in Wonderland began as a tale spun when on July 4, 1862, Dodgson and his friend Robinson Duckworth, a priest at Christ Church, rowed the three Liddell children up the Thames from Oxford to Godstow for a midday picnic on the banks of the river. The fairy-tale of Alice's Adventures Underground was told to the children during this occasion. Much of the story was based on another picnic a couple of weeks earlier when they had all been caught in the rain; As the Reverend Duckworth rowed the boat, Dodgson regaled the girls with fantastic stories of a girl, named Alice, and her adventures after she fell into a rabbit-hole and into a strange land.

Hairstyles that mimicked the Alice character in the book were also popular in the 1850's. The headband and hairstyling is similar on the dolls made by different factories. Although the book "Alice in Wonderland" was first published in 1865 the headbands are dated from 1850 on.

Poured wax "Alice doll" doll from my collection with brown glass eyes and pierced ears with glass earrings. Wooden limbs and cloth body ca. early 1800's

Alice and her older sister Lorina

The story was not unlike those Dodgson had spun for the sisters before, but this time Liddell asked him to write it down for her. Alice Liddell, age 10 at the time, was Dodgson's favorite of the three Liddell girls, so he named his heroine after her. He promised to do so but did not get around to the task for some months. Dodgson had decided to rewrite the story as a possible commercial venture, and was persuaded by friends to seek a publisher.
Eventually Dodgson presented her with the manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground in November 1864.

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party

My beautiful Alice by Lee Middleton as a Toddler: She came with her friend the White Rabbit. She has a beautiful life like face and is forever enjoying her "Happy Unbirthday Party" with her friends in my doll room.

From my collection "Alice's Mad Tea Party" and Guests...Alice Doll by Lee Middleton

The Liddell family with Lewis Carroll at one of their many outings with the poet/author.

There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head. `Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,’ thought Alice; `only, as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.’
The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There’s plenty of room!’ said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

Alice and the Cheshire Cat illustration from "Alice in Wonderland" Lewis Carroll.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with illustrations by John Tenniel, was published in 1865, under the name Lewis Carroll. A second book about the character Alice, Through The Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There, followed in 1871.

"Alice Doll" German ca. 1860... Hair modelled in glazed porcelain, with painted chestnut hair. The arms and little black boots are also porcelain. He head turns in a pivot. Motschmann type body in fabric and papier mache has a bellows for voice system. All original clothes, from the collection of Patrizia Bonato, Venice.

To the earliest childlike dolls belong "Alice in Wonderland" emerging as the main figure out of a fairy-tale from English poet Lewis Carroll. According to the model of John Tenniel illustrated the first edition of this book, the hair was combed to the rear and was held by a hair band.

In 1932, when she was 80, Alice published her memoirs. She also went to New York because of the centenary of Dodgson’s birth and was made a Doctor in Literature by Columbia University. This was her last engagement on behalf of Wonderland, because at that age she got really exhausted of being ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

Late in life, she lived in Lyndhurst in the New Forest. After her death she was cremated and her ashes were buried in the graveyard of the church of St. Michael & All Angels, Lyndhurst.
Alice died on 15 November 1934.

The extent to which Dodgson's Alice may be identified with Liddell is controversial. The two Alices are clearly not identical, and though it was long assumed that the fictional Alice was based very heavily on Liddell, recent research contradicted this assumption. Dodgson himself claimed in later years that his Alice was entirely imaginary and not based upon any real child at all.