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."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Le Marottes et Folies

La Folie - Gustave Doré
A richly-dressed young woman sits, weeping.
She nurses a marotte or jester's bauble (the sceptre-like insignia of the medieval court jester), a symbolic inclusion perhaps, given an added dimension by the title which translates as 'the madness'.
X-rays of the painting show the artist originally painted the woman with a baby in her arms (notice the cradle in the top right-hand corner), was the child dead or dying ? Rapid overpainting has turned a sentimental composition into a far more enigmatic work.

Marottes come between the categories of dolls and automatons, (a mechanical doll.)
They are formed by mounting a musical movement on a stick and covering with the fabric of a doll’s dress. When the stick is swung around, it activates the musical movement producing an attractive effect combined with the bells decorating the pointy ends of the gaudy dresses. Typically carried by a jester or harlequin, the miniature head will often reflect the costume of the jester who carries it.

Folies have no musical box concealed, but simply a squeaker device and the marotte has to be shaken rather than turned.


  1. Hello Marta,

    Beautiful and very interesting posts! You have a great knowledge about these matter.

    Me regalaron hace años un cetro de bufón (¡aún me pregunto el porqué!), no me gustó como le habían pintado la cara y se la repinté. Te tengo que mandar una foto. También hice los dibujos para una baraja de póquer, y la carta del joker, gustó mucho.

    Sigue poniento posts tan bonitos como estos!


  2. Thank you Alberto.
    Marottes are not my favorite dolls, like most Medieval toys there was something sinister about them. Still they have their place in doll history, and what I find intriguing about them is the relation they had with the jester. One was never too far from the other. More so was the influence jesters had on their masters, even Kings...Henry VIII demanded his jester to accompany him everywhere...Me encantaria ver esa foto, muchas gracias por tu comentario.

  3. Fascinating! Thankyou for sharing your vast knowledge of dolls Marta!
    ( I loved the picture with the jester with a Queen Anne doll for a hat?


  4. Thank you Nan! These comments are so encouraging, it'a a great feeling to know my passion is shared and appreciated by others.