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20th Century Italian Life-Size Mannequin, circa 1920
Life-size Mannequin Sculpted and carved walnut wood Italy, first half of the 20th century, probably 1920s Measures: H 68.50 in x 16.53 in (shoulders) x 13,18 in h 174 cm x 42 cm (shoulders) x 33.5 cm 66.13 lb (30 kg) State of conservation: almost perfect, with the exception of a vertical slit on the face. The mannequin is sculpted in a very realistic way, with well-modelled torso musculature; the feet are rendered in a particularly accurate manner. The face is expressive and posed with a lightly sketched-in smile; the hair is combed with the parting on the right. The sculptor has also focused especially on the hands, which have all the fingers articulated and the fingernails finished in detail. It is important to note that the craftsman chose to carve the mannequin out of a precious wood, such as walnut, instead of out of a "poor" variety, such as fir, pine or poplar, which were usually used in the production of most wooden mannequins; most likely the client intended to display it as a “naked” or exposed figure, without concealing it under clothes or draperies. The verb "mannequiner" (from which the English word “mannequin” comes) appears for the first time in 18th century France and is used to describe the act of skilfully draping cloth over a mannequin with a natural effect (MUNRO, J., Silent Partners: Artist and Mannequin from Function to Fetish, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, October 14, 2014 - January 25, 2015, exhibition catalogue, p. 28). “... The articulated human figure made of wax or wood was a common tool in artistic practice in Europe from the 16th century. Its indefatigable limbs and silent compliance enabled the artist to study anatomical proportion, fix a pose at will and perfect the depiction of drapery and clothing. In the course of the 19th century, however, the mannequin (or “lay figure” in English) gradually emerged from the studio to become a subject in its own right, at first humorously, then in more troubling ways, playing on the unnerving psychological presence of a figure that was realistic, yet unreal, lifelike, yet lifeless. Despite the plethora of human effigies and avatars, both virtual and real, that inhabit our 21st century existence, the mannequin continues to fascinate and disturb, an empty vessel for our fears and fantasies ... ” (MUNRO, Jane, op. cit., introduction to the exhibition catalogue). “As a tool in the artist’s arsenal, however, mannequins were hidden from view and rarely, if ever, included in representations of the artist’s studio – their presence hinting at the laborious act of painting and diminishing the perception of the artist as inspired genius …” (MUNRO, Jane, op. cit., p. 2).
- Of the Period
- Place of Origin
- Date of Manufacturecirca 1920
- Materials and Techniques
- Condition DetailsAlmost perfect, with the exception of a vertical slit on the face.
- WearMinor fading.
- DimensionsH 68.51 in. x W 16.54 in. x D 13.19 in.H 174 cm x W 42 cm x D 33.5 cm
- Seller LocationMilano, IT
- Reference NumberLU4352214037692
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Associations: International Confederation of Art and Antique Dealers' Associations
1stdibs seller since 2018
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Located in Milano, IT
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