The Libbey Dolls: Fashioning the Story

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libbeydolls_online2_exhibitionOct. 28, 2016–Feb. 12, 2017
Gallery 18

The Libbey Dolls, formerly known as the Doucet Dolls, were the product of the World War I aid effort. The porcelain factories at Limoges and Sèvres aided in the recovery by putting wounded soldiers, out-of-work artisans and young men back to work making French novelties. Out of their production came this collection of 78 fashion figures, depicting French style from A.D. 493 to 1915. The dolls were purchased in 1917 by Toledo Museum of Art founder Edward Drummond Libbey at the Permanent Blind Relief Fund’s Allied Bazaar in New York, in what was hailed as the “greatest single purchase made at the Allied Bazaar.” (The dolls sold for $30,000, the equivalent of about $680,000 today.)

The Libbey Dolls are connected with prominent French couturier of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jacques Doucet, who created the dolls’ clothing, using inspiration from works of art by great French artists like Nicolas Lancret and Louis-Léopold Boilly, as well as drawings and engravings from late 19th-century fashion publications. The Libbey Dolls: Fashioning the Story will explore the extraordinary story of this collection while showcasing French fashion design and the strong connection between fashion and the art world.