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Temporary Exhibit

Poster of the exhibit

Perfect Little Girl's dolls
October 16, 2007 to March 16, 2008

The museum’s new temporary exhibit highlights the role of dolls since 1840 in the bringing up “perfect little girls”. Over a 100 pieces, starting with the wax dolls described by the Comtesse de Ségur up to today’s plastic dolls, continue in their role as an idealized model for children to imitate.

Among these, Leeann, a contemporary Canadian doll will be the exhibition’s guide inside the world of perfect little girls’ dolls through the generations.

_____What is a Perfect Little Girl ?

The idea of “Perfect Little Girl” (“Les Petites Filles Modèles”), evoques the world described by the Comtesse de Ségur in her well known book of the same name as well as in her equally popular book  « Les malheurs de Sophie » (“Sophie’s misadventures”).

Portrait of Comtesse de Ségur
"Les Petites Filles Modèles"
"Les malheurs de Sophie"

The dictionary defines the Perfect Little Girl as : a little girl given as an example to follow, having good manners as well as a high moral, intellectual and cultural upbringing.

The keys of a perfect girl’s upbringing :

• a strong moral education with Christian values : charity, devotion, church attendance…

• academic education : learning reading, writing, history, geography…

• physical education : gymnastics, walking and horseback ridding…

• cultural and artistic education : singing, music, dance, drawing, sewing, housekeeping…

• good manners : to be polite, on time, tactful, gracious, patient,charitable, docile, amicable, self sacrificing, tidy, upright, honest, frank, kind, clean…

Naughty faults and bad manners : to be lazy, untidy, overly curious, selfish, proud, superior, overly critical, overly sensitive, a liar, greedy, conceited, envious, jealous, dishonest…

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____ The doll's roles in the Perfect Little Girl 's upbringing

As seen in « Les malheurs de Sophie », good manners were taught by using dolls that were first made of wax or papier maché, then bisque, composition, celluloïd, cloth or plastic.

Illustration "Les malheurs de Sophie"

As the materials changed due to technical advances so did the dolls morphologies in order to adapt to children’s changing tastes : from the fashion doll with a paper mache head and a leather body representing the adult woman the little girl would become, to the caracter doll or baby doll representing a baby or a young child cared for while playing « mummy ».

Through doll play, children have learnt sewing, embroidery, knitting, tapestry and even making trousseaus but also cooking and childcare. Doll accessories like sewing machines, tea sets, layettes and doll furniture such as cradles also helped to teach these skills.

Sewing for dolls
Playing with dolls and tea sets

Children’s magazines also contributed to the proper upbringing of little girls by promoting dolls, printing patterns for sewing or handicraft as well as featuring stories with morals and good advice. The magazines also published illustrations and Epinal images which portrayed well-behaved children to imitate or badly behaved ones to condemn.

Victor Hugo perceptively describes the dolls’ role in child’s upbringing : « The doll fills one of the most fundamental needs and at the same time one of the most charming instincts of female childhood. Taking care of, dressing, undressing, dressing again, teaching, scolding, comforting, cuddling, putting to sleep, imagining a doll is alive, the entire future of the adult woman is there. While dreaming and playing, while sewing little trousseaus and layettes, dresses, blouses, undergarments, the child becomes a young lady, the young lady a woman. The first baby is the continuation of the last doll. »

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_____A tour in the exhibit

• 1830 -1850 – Presented here are the dolls dating from Comtesse de Ségur’s time and particularly the wax and paper mache ones along with many illustrations from the Romantic and Second Empire period.

Paper mache doll with a wedding dress, 1850
photo Jean Dalmard

Porcelain doll, 1860
photo Jean Dalmard

• 1860 - Violette is a beautiful fashion doll with a rich original trousseau of 20 outfits and many accessories handmade by their little owners and their mums from patterns published in the magazine “La Poupée Modèle”.

"La Poupée Modèle" 1878
Clothes for dolls, "La Poupée Modèle"
Clothes for dolls, "La Poupée Modèle"

This doll remained in the same family from the end of the 1860’s and was used as a toy until the 1950’s. Although faded over time, her trousseau includes outfits for every season and every moment of the day, appropriate to an upper class doll.

Violette and her wardrobe

• 1870 - during the Second Empire, Huret became the leading doll maker thanks to the high quality of its revolutionary dolls.. Their expressions, the complex articulation of their bodies enabling the dolls to take realistic attitudes, the richness of their costumes reflecting the fashion, have made the Huret dolls the best of that period.

Children’s magazines of that time such as “La Poupée Modèle”, “la Gazette de la Poupée”,“Le Journal  des Jeunes personnes” published patterns and drawings for these luxurious dolls. Seen here is some work by Mathilde Héritier a great seamstress who respected the antique sewing techniques and materials…

• 1880 –Jumeau replaced Huret as a luxury doll maker. His articulated bebe representing the 3 to 12 years old child with a bisque head (mat porcelain baked twice) was very popular. Even today, Jumeau’s name is synonymous with high quality dolls. The two Jumeau bebes we exhibit belonged to two perfect girls, Claire and Pauline, born in 1866 and 1872. Each one received her Jumeau bebe for her eleventh birthday. These same size dolls shared a rich wardrobe that reflected  the upper middle class children’s fashion of that time.

Jumeau bébé
photo Jean Dalmard

• 1898/99 –  Paulette and Aline are two Jumeau bebes of the following generation that were offered to two sisters Madeleine (born in 1891) and Therese Vimont (born in 1893), at the end of the XIXst century. They have been kept with their elaborate trousseaus with pictures and other family souvenirs that illustrate the educational role of the doll at that time.

• 1910 – The First World War generation continued to follow the XIXth century’s upbringing methods particularly by maintaining the central role of dolls in teaching sewing. Traditional dolls, as well as caracter babies, were sold in gorgeous boxes filled with trousseaus. Little girls could sew more clothes from patterns published by various child’s magazines. Other toys such as miniature sewing machines, fashion designer boxes, dress forms and other sewing sets, were used while playing with dolls.

• 1878-1925 – Mignonnette is the pocket doll from the child’s magazine “La Poupée Modèle” , a children’s magazine that published, 403 patterns, and sketches, 70  printed fabric sheets, 63 cardboard plates from 1878 to 1917 to help girls make outfits, accessories and furniture for their miniature dolls. We exhibit them with the exquisitly made trousseaus sewed by Mathilde Heritier from the patterns published in the magazine.

Mignonnette in a setting made from a pattern published in "La Poupée Modèle"

• 1905-1960 – As “la Poupée Modèle” was the reference in the XIXth century, the magazine “La Semaine de Suzette” became the “upright” little girls’ magazine from 1905 to 1960.

"La Semaine de Suzette", 1929
Pattern from "La Semaine de Suzette", 1938

Bleuette, Bambino and Rosette, the magazine’s famous dolls responded to the conservative upper class tatse for dolls that preserved high moral and educational values. Bleuette and her brother and sister could wear ready-to-wear clothes bought directly from the Gautier-Languereau publisher or could be dressed by their little mums thanks to the patterns published in the “Nous habillons Bleuette” pages.


• 1912-1930 Other magazines for children and women used dolls to to teach sewing, knitting and housekeeping. “Lisette”, “Fillette”, “Le Journal Rose”, “Le Jardin des Modes”, left a permanent mark on this this generation with their dolls.

"Lisette", 1922
"Fillette", 1912
"Le Journal Rose", 1913
"Lisette", 1922
"Fillette", 1912
"Le journal Rose", 1913

• 1930 – Even between the two World Wars, social class was reflected through the child’s dolls. Playing dolls was a way to learn the way how to dress properly for different occasions. A doll of quality had, in her trousseau, outfits for any season, every moment of the day and every important step in a child’s life such as a communion dress, a school uniform, a ball gown…

• 1940-2000 – From 1940, Spanish perfect little girls mainly from the Franquiste leanings families, played with Mariquita Perez  yet this unbreakable doll was the dream of every Spanish little girl.

Mariquita Perez

Her opulente wardrobe, and the exclusive sale of the dolls in luxury shops ,have made of Mariquita Perez and her brothers pretigious toys. They have remained so mythical that they are now  being reproduced in the tradition of luxury toys.

• 1950 – The baby boomers’ generation enjoyed the new classical dolls made in France by companies like Raynal, Bella, Gégé, Petitcollin…At that time celluloid was being progressively replaced by new plastic materials such as rhodoïd, polystyrene and polyethylene. The new image of the perfect little girl rimed with nylon frilly dresses, 3 piece sun-suits made in multicolor cotton, Sunday dresses made of silk covered by smocks and absolutely clean varnished shoes.

Raynal doll

Françoise, Petitcollin

• 1950-2000 – During the same period, sewing and dolls found a new outlet in the lady’s magazine “Modes & Travaux” that distributed exclusive dolls called Françoise, Michel, Francette from 1951. When the magazine stopped selling this dolls exclusively, they continued to be sold by their dollmaker Petitcollin under the name “Les poupées chic de Paris”. They still inspire needlewoman using the patterns published in “Modes & Travaux” and they also appeal to foreigners that are fond of these, the last dolls still made in France.

Pattern for Françoise from "Modes&Travaux"
Pattern for Michel from "Modes&Travaux"

• 1980 – After the Second World War, the upcoming firm Clodrey became a leader in traditional doll making. Its production was inspired by the romantic period dolls as well as being a reflection of the perfect child in the 1960’s. In 1981, Catherine Réfabert, step-daughter of the founder Clodrey, launched, her own doll trademark Corolle that quickly  became popular in France and is still run by an American firm.

Corolle dolls

This classical doll range combines collectible dolls and soft body babies representing both girls and boys from various ethnic groups. Their well-made clothes puts them in the category of quality toys for todays’ perfect children.

• 2000 – Among the contemporary dolls, those made entirely in bisque are for adult collectors and for people fond of sewing. Their general appearance brings to mind the image of the perfect girl’s doll with their sweet neat little dresses, perfect hair styles, refined and chosen accessories. This fits the esthetic and decorative expectations of the adults who cherish them. Wendy Lawton, Pauline Jacobsen, Heather Maciak are some of the artists that specialize in this kind of decorative little dolls.

Doll by Heather Maciak
Alice by Wendy Lawton

Leeann is the latest born in this category of dolls. Created in 2005 by the Canadian artist Denis Bastien, this doll made of plastic is for children as well as adults. She represents today’s little girl who wears, as kids do, both classic and casual outfits. In a nutshell, she is the perfect doll for today’s perfect little girl.


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Around the exhibit...

Special exhibit workshop for children "Making of a cloth doll"

Workshops to make a cloth doll are scheduled, every Wednesday, for children from5 to 12 years old. Stuffing, sewing and drawing are made by the children who will leave with a unique doll.

With reservation 01 42 72 73 11

Tale sessions for children

Story tellin sessions related to the temporary exhibit are given for children from 3 years old.

With reservation 01 42 72 73 11

Educational tours of the museum for children and families

The museum has set up educational tours especially for children of 5 and over and their parents. These tour begin by handling dolls' parts from various periods and end with a visit in the permanent rooms.

With reservation 01 42 72 73 11

Birthday party with dolls

Have your birthday party with your friends and dolls.
unguided tour with an educational questionnaire or educational tour + cake (not provided) + story time or workshop

Adjustable package with reservation 01 42 72 73 11.

Torch tours of the museum - NEW !

Do the dolls wake up at night when the showcases are turned off and the visitors leave ? Come for a tour of the museum with director, Samy Odin, and discover by the light of his torch, the pricate history of these wonderful dolls of the past.

A Thursday par month, with reservation 01 42 72 73 11

How much is my doll worth ? Doll appraisals

How much is my doll worth ? When was it been made ? When? By whom ?... M. Odin, director of the museum and specialist in dolls will answer publicly all your questions, on presentation of your doll after your visit to the museum.

A Saterday per month, with reservation 01 42 72 73 11

A specialized shop – bookstore

The Museum’s shop is open at the same time as the exhibition rooms, and is also available on this website.

Play dolls and collectible dolls, clothes and accessories, as well as a wide range of books and products are for sale.

A doll hospital and appraisals

The Museum’s doll hospital repairs antique dolls, baby dolls, plush animals... and makes appraisals.
Veronique Derez, our doll doctor, is usually there on Thursday from 1 pm to 4 pm but you can come any other day for a free estimate of the repairs on presentation of the sick dolls or plush animal.

For appraisals and doll identity card, with charge, an appointment is required on presentation of the object.

A seamstress and an antique haberdashery for dolls

The seamstress makes clothes, especially designed for your dolls.

Isabelle Banon, our seamstress, remains at your disposal on apointments on Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm to examine your projects.

Free estimate will be given on presentation of the doll to be dressed.

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Next exhibit from March 25, 2008

Dolls and toys : the 5 senses awaikening

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