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A Brief History of the Dolls’ House Popular belief has the dolls’ house closely identified with childhood or women, a child’s toy like a teddy bear or an enjoyable pastime – in any case as something belonging to a world of little interest to men. Yet the dolls’ house has played less restricted roles throughout its history. Inventories of seventeenth-century German dolls’ houses show that these houses, among the first ever made, were often commissioned by men eager to demonstrate their wealth and social status. In France, the Journal of Louis XIII’s physician, Jean Héroard – which records his birth, in 1601, and early life – recounts in some detail how greatly he loved his toys, among them carts, puppets, dolls, domestic utensils and miniature rooms. Their status was such that many dolls’ houses were made and furnished with valuable materials (sometimes subsequently sacrificed, as were many other domestic items, to raise funds for war – indeed, Louis XIV was forced through economic necessity to have his much-loved silver and gold toys melted down). The dolls’ house is both subversive and seductive. It provides a microcosmic view of the world and how it has changed over the generations, often featuring aspects of life that have now vanished or are rarely seen. But it also presents an adult, idealized version of life, far removed from unbiased, objective reality, sometimes with the more basic and functional elements of everyday life simply airbrushed out. Such key structural elements as toilets and bathrooms, staircases and doorways may be missing; there might be little evidence of the workaday household objects required to keep a home in running order, such as tools, ladders or garden implements. Sports equipment, evidence of hobbies and artistic occupations are rarely seen. The German Puppenhaus or baby house The earliest-known baby house (meaning small or doll, and known in Germany as Dockenhaus or Puppenhaus) was made in 1557–8 for Albert V, Duke of Bavaria, as a cabinet of curiosities for the Duke’s delight. Popularly known as the Munich Baby House it was an impressive four-storey house, a copy of one of the many elegant ducal residences of the time. It was built and furnished by skilled craftsmen as an art cabinet in the shape of a building and filled with precious items. The German preference was for the architectural style; in contrast, in the Netherlands a cabinet or cupboard was used by the wealthy to show off their treasures. 8

Introduction

Introduction

9


A Brief History of the Dolls’ House Popular belief has the dolls’ house closely identified with childhood or women, a child’s toy like a teddy bear or an enjoyable pastime – in any case as something belonging to a world of little interest to men. Yet the dolls’ house has played less restricted roles throughout its history. Inventories of seventeenth-century German dolls’ houses show that these houses, among the first ever made, were often commissioned by men eager to demonstrate their wealth and social status. In France, the Journal of Louis XIII’s physician, Jean Héroard – which records his birth, in 1601, and early life – recounts in some detail how greatly he loved his toys, among them carts, puppets, dolls, domestic utensils and miniature rooms. Their status was such that many dolls’ houses were made and furnished with valuable materials (sometimes subsequently sacrificed, as were many other domestic items, to raise funds for war – indeed, Louis XIV was forced through economic necessity to have his much-loved silver and gold toys melted down). The dolls’ house is both subversive and seductive. It provides a microcosmic view of the world and how it has changed over the generations, often featuring aspects of life that have now vanished or are rarely seen. But it also presents an adult, idealized version of life, far removed from unbiased, objective reality, sometimes with the more basic and functional elements of everyday life simply airbrushed out. Such key structural elements as toilets and bathrooms, staircases and doorways may be missing; there might be little evidence of the workaday household objects required to keep a home in running order, such as tools, ladders or garden implements. Sports equipment, evidence of hobbies and artistic occupations are rarely seen. The German Puppenhaus or baby house The earliest-known baby house (meaning small or doll, and known in Germany as Dockenhaus or Puppenhaus) was made in 1557–8 for Albert V, Duke of Bavaria, as a cabinet of curiosities for the Duke’s delight. Popularly known as the Munich Baby House it was an impressive four-storey house, a copy of one of the many elegant ducal residences of the time. It was built and furnished by skilled craftsmen as an art cabinet in the shape of a building and filled with precious items. The German preference was for the architectural style; in contrast, in the Netherlands a cabinet or cupboard was used by the wealthy to show off their treasures. 8

Introduction

Introduction

9


The Munich Baby House was followed, early the next century, by a baby house and miniature farm (1610–17) commissioned for Duke Philip II of Pomerania-Stettin by Augsburg art dealer Philip Hainhofer. Both of these dolls’ houses were furnished luxuriously but, by way of contrast, a miniature farmhouse that formed part of the farm was furnished only with modest, everyday items such as a bed, chest and a couple of chairs, a chamber-pot and a towel holder, presumably as befitted the lower status of the tenant farmer. The Munich Baby House and the ducal residence on which it was based were both destroyed in a fire in 1674 but, fortunately, an inventory, compiled in 1598 by the Duke’s councillor Johann Baptist Fickler, survived to give a fascinating insight into the way in which wealthy contemporary households, large and small, were equipped. Building and furnishing the baby house was a fashionable and expensive hobby in seventeenth-century Germany. The Fickler inventory describes in detail the most sumptuous modern furniture and furnishings that money could buy, revealing how wealthy German families lived some 300 years ago. The term ‘baby’ continued to be used to describe hand-built houses, chiefly in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain, until the late eighteenth century. The Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg has four of the oldest-surviving baby houses, named the Nuremberg houses after the city in which they were manufactured. The houses are large, each the size of a small wardrobe. The very earliest is known as the 1611 Nuremberg House; another, the Stromer House, is dated 1639. Two others, the Kress and Baumler houses, date from the late seventeenth century. Most of the dolls’ houses retain features that have long vanished from Nuremberg homes, such as roof features of spiked metal stars, which were banned for safety reasons. A small example of a Nuremberg house, which dates from 1673, can be seen in the V&A Museum of Childhood. The role of the baby house As well as rich men’s toys, emblematic of their status and wealth, the dolls’ houses had a didactic purpose. Leonie von Wilckens, author of Mansions in Miniature: Four Centuries of Dolls’ Houses (1980), tells us that so great was the demand for instruction in domestic skills and the management of wealthy households that several guides were 10

Introduction

Caption here for intro pics. Lorio vid que pro everunda simos expedis esenem ressimus quiaeperci ium quatem exces dolor sapiduc ipicim voloria acearci psanducimin esto bea pratures Hariaturerum quod ut poriatque omnim suscius.

Caption here for intro pics. Lorio vid que pro everunda simos expedis esenem ressimus quiaeperci ium quatem exces dolor sapiduc ipicim voloria acearci psanducimin esto bea pratures. Caption here for intro pics. Lorio vid que pro everunda simos expedis esenem ressimus quiaeperci ium quatem exces dolor sapiduc ipicim voloria acearci psanducimin.

published after the invention of printing in 1492. These ranged from pattern and embroidery books to volumes on the running of the home, such as Johann Coler’s Oeconomia Ruralis et Domestica published in Wittenberg in 1593. However, few girls were able to read therefore the dolls’ house provided an excellent visual aid for servants and young women. Contemporary German accounts, such as that of the historian Paul van Stetten the Younger in his 1765 Commentary on the copper engravings showing scenes from the history of Augsburg, indicate that the houses were intended as instructional aids for girls learning domestic skills in the 1600 and 1700s. One such house, a large one (240 cm high × 134 cm wide × 100 cm deep), belonged to Anna Köferlin from Nuremberg. Very little is known about Anna Köferlin’s life, although it appears that she was not a wealthy woman. None the less, she clearly considered early guidelines and the rules of household management to be of great importance; with this in mind she had the house built for her in 1631 (though it has long since vanished). She would charge admission to the women and girls, children and servants who came to visit the house, handing out an accompanying woodcut broadsheet, an extract of which appears below (von Wilckens, 1980), in which she emphasized the importance of domestic science and the value of learning domestic skills early in life. So look you then at this Baby House, ye babes, inside and out. Look at it and learn well ahead how you shall live in days to come. See how all is arranged in kitchen, parlour and bedchamber, and yet is also well adorned. See what great number of chattels a well-arrayed house does need. But at times one may also manage well with little, if one be content. Look all around you, look behind you, look everywhere, how much there has been put on show for you, hundreds of pieces. Of bedding, of handsome presses, of Introduction

11


The Munich Baby House was followed, early the next century, by a baby house and miniature farm (1610–17) commissioned for Duke Philip II of Pomerania-Stettin by Augsburg art dealer Philip Hainhofer. Both of these dolls’ houses were furnished luxuriously but, by way of contrast, a miniature farmhouse that formed part of the farm was furnished only with modest, everyday items such as a bed, chest and a couple of chairs, a chamber-pot and a towel holder, presumably as befitted the lower status of the tenant farmer. The Munich Baby House and the ducal residence on which it was based were both destroyed in a fire in 1674 but, fortunately, an inventory, compiled in 1598 by the Duke’s councillor Johann Baptist Fickler, survived to give a fascinating insight into the way in which wealthy contemporary households, large and small, were equipped. Building and furnishing the baby house was a fashionable and expensive hobby in seventeenth-century Germany. The Fickler inventory describes in detail the most sumptuous modern furniture and furnishings that money could buy, revealing how wealthy German families lived some 300 years ago. The term ‘baby’ continued to be used to describe hand-built houses, chiefly in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain, until the late eighteenth century. The Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg has four of the oldest-surviving baby houses, named the Nuremberg houses after the city in which they were manufactured. The houses are large, each the size of a small wardrobe. The very earliest is known as the 1611 Nuremberg House; another, the Stromer House, is dated 1639. Two others, the Kress and Baumler houses, date from the late seventeenth century. Most of the dolls’ houses retain features that have long vanished from Nuremberg homes, such as roof features of spiked metal stars, which were banned for safety reasons. A small example of a Nuremberg house, which dates from 1673, can be seen in the V&A Museum of Childhood. The role of the baby house As well as rich men’s toys, emblematic of their status and wealth, the dolls’ houses had a didactic purpose. Leonie von Wilckens, author of Mansions in Miniature: Four Centuries of Dolls’ Houses (1980), tells us that so great was the demand for instruction in domestic skills and the management of wealthy households that several guides were 10

Introduction

Caption here for intro pics. Lorio vid que pro everunda simos expedis esenem ressimus quiaeperci ium quatem exces dolor sapiduc ipicim voloria acearci psanducimin esto bea pratures Hariaturerum quod ut poriatque omnim suscius.

Caption here for intro pics. Lorio vid que pro everunda simos expedis esenem ressimus quiaeperci ium quatem exces dolor sapiduc ipicim voloria acearci psanducimin esto bea pratures. Caption here for intro pics. Lorio vid que pro everunda simos expedis esenem ressimus quiaeperci ium quatem exces dolor sapiduc ipicim voloria acearci psanducimin.

published after the invention of printing in 1492. These ranged from pattern and embroidery books to volumes on the running of the home, such as Johann Coler’s Oeconomia Ruralis et Domestica published in Wittenberg in 1593. However, few girls were able to read therefore the dolls’ house provided an excellent visual aid for servants and young women. Contemporary German accounts, such as that of the historian Paul van Stetten the Younger in his 1765 Commentary on the copper engravings showing scenes from the history of Augsburg, indicate that the houses were intended as instructional aids for girls learning domestic skills in the 1600 and 1700s. One such house, a large one (240 cm high × 134 cm wide × 100 cm deep), belonged to Anna Köferlin from Nuremberg. Very little is known about Anna Köferlin’s life, although it appears that she was not a wealthy woman. None the less, she clearly considered early guidelines and the rules of household management to be of great importance; with this in mind she had the house built for her in 1631 (though it has long since vanished). She would charge admission to the women and girls, children and servants who came to visit the house, handing out an accompanying woodcut broadsheet, an extract of which appears below (von Wilckens, 1980), in which she emphasized the importance of domestic science and the value of learning domestic skills early in life. So look you then at this Baby House, ye babes, inside and out. Look at it and learn well ahead how you shall live in days to come. See how all is arranged in kitchen, parlour and bedchamber, and yet is also well adorned. See what great number of chattels a well-arrayed house does need. But at times one may also manage well with little, if one be content. Look all around you, look behind you, look everywhere, how much there has been put on show for you, hundreds of pieces. Of bedding, of handsome presses, of Introduction

11


The Nuremberg House (1673) This pine-wood house was originally purchased from a Herr A. Pickert for £18 by the South Kensington Museum (an early incarnation of the V&A) for its Educational Division, the only example of a house made in Nuremberg to be found outside Germany. Compared with the size of surviving examples in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, this dolls’ house is considerably smaller. It retains most of its architectural and decorative features, notably the metal star on the roof, subsequently banned from real buildings because of its tendency to succumb to high winds and cause damage. The unicorn on the left door (missing its horn) indicates that the house belonged to an apothecary or chemist. A picture inside the right door is of Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century German theologian whose writings inspired the Protestant Reformation. 36

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The Nuremberg House (1673) This pine-wood house was originally purchased from a Herr A. Pickert for £18 by the South Kensington Museum (an early incarnation of the V&A) for its Educational Division, the only example of a house made in Nuremberg to be found outside Germany. Compared with the size of surviving examples in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, this dolls’ house is considerably smaller. It retains most of its architectural and decorative features, notably the metal star on the roof, subsequently banned from real buildings because of its tendency to succumb to high winds and cause damage. The unicorn on the left door (missing its horn) indicates that the house belonged to an apothecary or chemist. A picture inside the right door is of Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century German theologian whose writings inspired the Protestant Reformation. 36

37


The Nuremberg House hosaerumqui conse nullandandae re volupta sit is accullo ressinv enihili genderatatur mi, quassunt es doluptatur, iderume nihilique nis apidit que latessiment ma es atquo quis et odisquate praecaborum laut quis doloremporro et maioribusae quunder ibusdam fugitint, ipit apis ea sitibus earition cusamVolumqui ommolup tatquis sinctur autatium voluptiur, as expelestia in re volor asit que ium qui corum endendi cuptas quatur sit volores exerumqui nobit militia alit a perunt endi cus, velibus ad eatus, et quas nonet landam accatur ehendunt aut re num aut vendipsam simporeped utamendissi ipidit, everovit perrum hit, verite pedi odi ium in re duciatur, ilibus endis aut volore nonsequod earis dolorit ex eumque con et, quibusdaecum a nis adis apis eatatem. Optas aspere es eos nihicil luptas elendel estrumque

38

The Nuremberg House

The Nuremberg House

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The Nuremberg House hosaerumqui conse nullandandae re volupta sit is accullo ressinv enihili genderatatur mi, quassunt es doluptatur, iderume nihilique nis apidit que latessiment ma es atquo quis et odisquate praecaborum laut quis doloremporro et maioribusae quunder ibusdam fugitint, ipit apis ea sitibus earition cusamVolumqui ommolup tatquis sinctur autatium voluptiur, as expelestia in re volor asit que ium qui corum endendi cuptas quatur sit volores exerumqui nobit militia alit a perunt endi cus, velibus ad eatus, et quas nonet landam accatur ehendunt aut re num aut vendipsam simporeped utamendissi ipidit, everovit perrum hit, verite pedi odi ium in re duciatur, ilibus endis aut volore nonsequod earis dolorit ex eumque con et, quibusdaecum a nis adis apis eatatem. Optas aspere es eos nihicil luptas elendel estrumque

38

The Nuremberg House

The Nuremberg House

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40

The Nuremberg House

The Nuremberg House

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40

The Nuremberg House

The Nuremberg House

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The Nuremberg House hosaerumqui conse nullandandae re volupta sit is accullo ressinv enihili genderatatur mi, quassunt es doluptatur, iderume nihilique nis apidit que latessiment ma es atquo quis et odisquate praecaborum laut quis doloremporro et maioribusae quunder ibusdam fugitint, ipit apis ea sitibus earition cusamVolumqui ommolup tatquis sinctur autatium voluptiur, as expelestia in re volor asit que ium qui corum endendi cuptas quatur sit volores exerumqui nobit militia alit a perunt endi cus, velibus ad eatus, et quas nonet landam accatur ehendunt aut re num aut vendipsam simporeped utamendissi ipidit, everovit perrum hit, verite pedi odi ium in re duciatur, ilibus endis aut volore nonsequod earis dolorit ex eumque con et, quibusdaecum a nis adis apis eatatem. Optas aspere es eos

42

The Nuremberg House

The Nuremberg House

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The Nuremberg House hosaerumqui conse nullandandae re volupta sit is accullo ressinv enihili genderatatur mi, quassunt es doluptatur, iderume nihilique nis apidit que latessiment ma es atquo quis et odisquate praecaborum laut quis doloremporro et maioribusae quunder ibusdam fugitint, ipit apis ea sitibus earition cusamVolumqui ommolup tatquis sinctur autatium voluptiur, as expelestia in re volor asit que ium qui corum endendi cuptas quatur sit volores exerumqui nobit militia alit a perunt endi cus, velibus ad eatus, et quas nonet landam accatur ehendunt aut re num aut vendipsam simporeped utamendissi ipidit, everovit perrum hit, verite pedi odi ium in re duciatur, ilibus endis aut volore nonsequod earis dolorit ex eumque con et, quibusdaecum a nis adis apis eatatem. Optas aspere es eos

42

The Nuremberg House

The Nuremberg House

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The Tate Baby House (1760) One of the most important objects in the museum’s collection, the Tate Baby House is one of a group of early baby houses that are significant for their size and grandeur and manufacture by skilled carpenters. It is significant for its architectural and decorative detail as well as its small number of eighteenthcentury items that co-exist with later additions. The house is designed as a classic brick construction with stone coigns and dressings plus a balustraded, double external staircase that leads up to the first floor; above the pedimented entrance is a Venetian window. While the house retains several original features it has also undergone alteration: the furniture and décor were updated in 1830 and at least twice thereafter, the windows have lost their glazing bars, which would have given them an authentic 12-pane detail instead of the two panes that were popular in the nineteenth century. The décor has been updated, the roofline altered and its stand is an Edwardian addition. Despite the alterations, the house retains the atmosphere of a prosperous town house. The house is constructed in separate units, which can be taken apart for ease of transport. It is named after its last owner, Mrs Walter Tate, who died in 1929, and had been loaned originally for six months to Bethnal Green Museum for the 1923 Children’s Exhibition. Although Mrs Tate died intestate, her repeated wish was that the house should remain in the museum’s possession, and it was purchased eventually in December 1929 for £250 66

The Nuremberg House

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The Tate Baby House (1760) One of the most important objects in the museum’s collection, the Tate Baby House is one of a group of early baby houses that are significant for their size and grandeur and manufacture by skilled carpenters. It is significant for its architectural and decorative detail as well as its small number of eighteenthcentury items that co-exist with later additions. The house is designed as a classic brick construction with stone coigns and dressings plus a balustraded, double external staircase that leads up to the first floor; above the pedimented entrance is a Venetian window. While the house retains several original features it has also undergone alteration: the furniture and décor were updated in 1830 and at least twice thereafter, the windows have lost their glazing bars, which would have given them an authentic 12-pane detail instead of the two panes that were popular in the nineteenth century. The décor has been updated, the roofline altered and its stand is an Edwardian addition. Despite the alterations, the house retains the atmosphere of a prosperous town house. The house is constructed in separate units, which can be taken apart for ease of transport. It is named after its last owner, Mrs Walter Tate, who died in 1929, and had been loaned originally for six months to Bethnal Green Museum for the 1923 Children’s Exhibition. Although Mrs Tate died intestate, her repeated wish was that the house should remain in the museum’s possession, and it was purchased eventually in December 1929 for £250 66

The Nuremberg House

67


The Tate Baby House hosaerumqui conse nullandandae re volupta sit is accullo ressinv enihili genderatatur mi, quassunt es doluptatur, iderume nihilique nis apidit que latessiment ma es atquo quis et odisquate praecaborum laut quis doloremporro et maioribusae quunder ibusdam fugitint, ipit apis ea sitibus earition cusamVolumqui ommolup tatquis sinctur autatium voluptiur, as expelestia in re volor asit que ium qui corum endendi cuptas quatur sit volores exerumqui nobit

68

The Tate Baby House

69


The Tate Baby House hosaerumqui conse nullandandae re volupta sit is accullo ressinv enihili genderatatur mi, quassunt es doluptatur, iderume nihilique nis apidit que latessiment ma es atquo quis et odisquate praecaborum laut quis doloremporro et maioribusae quunder ibusdam fugitint, ipit apis ea sitibus earition cusamVolumqui ommolup tatquis sinctur autatium voluptiur, as expelestia in re volor asit que ium qui corum endendi cuptas quatur sit volores exerumqui nobit

68

The Tate Baby House

69


The Tate Baby House hosaerumqui conse nullandandae re volupta sit is accullo ressinv enihili genderatatur mi, quassunt es doluptatur, iderume nihilique nis apidit que latessiment ma es atquo quis et odisquate praecaborum laut quis doloremporro et maioribusae quunder ibusdam fugitint, ipit apis ea sitibus earition cusamVolumqui ommolup tatquis sinctur autatium

70

The Tate Baby House

The Tate Baby House

71


The Tate Baby House hosaerumqui conse nullandandae re volupta sit is accullo ressinv enihili genderatatur mi, quassunt es doluptatur, iderume nihilique nis apidit que latessiment ma es atquo quis et odisquate praecaborum laut quis doloremporro et maioribusae quunder ibusdam fugitint, ipit apis ea sitibus earition cusamVolumqui ommolup tatquis sinctur autatium

70

The Tate Baby House

The Tate Baby House

71


The Tate Baby House hosaerumqui conse nullandandae re volupta sit is accullo ressinv enihili genderatatur mi, quassunt es doluptatur, iderume nihilique nis apidit que latessiment ma es atquo quis et odisquate praecaborum laut quis doloremporro et maioribusae quunder ibusdam fugitint, ipit apis ea sitibus earition cusamVolumqui ommolup tatquis sinctur autatium voluptiur, as expelestia in re volor asit que ium qui corum endendi cuptas quatur sit volores exerumqui nobit militia alit a perunt endi cus, velibus ad eatus, et quas nonet landam accatur ehendunt aut re num aut vendipsam simporeped utamendissi ipidit, everovit perrum hit, verite pedi odi ium in re duciatur, ilibus endis aut volore nonsequod earis dolorit ex

72

The Tate Baby House

The Tate Baby House

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The Tate Baby House hosaerumqui conse nullandandae re volupta sit is accullo ressinv enihili genderatatur mi, quassunt es doluptatur, iderume nihilique nis apidit que latessiment ma es atquo quis et odisquate praecaborum laut quis doloremporro et maioribusae quunder ibusdam fugitint, ipit apis ea sitibus earition cusamVolumqui ommolup tatquis sinctur autatium voluptiur, as expelestia in re volor asit que ium qui corum endendi cuptas quatur sit volores exerumqui nobit militia alit a perunt endi cus, velibus ad eatus, et quas nonet landam accatur ehendunt aut re num aut vendipsam simporeped utamendissi ipidit, everovit perrum hit, verite pedi odi ium in re duciatur, ilibus endis aut volore nonsequod earis dolorit ex

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The Tate Baby House

The Tate Baby House

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DOLLS’ HOUSES From the V&A Museum of Childhood