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July 25, 2018

Fall exhibit at Philadelphia Museum of Art will feature Victorian dolls

Each has an extravagant wardrobe of miniature, detailed clothing and accessories

Arts & Culture Exhibits
Little Ladies: Victorian Fashion Dolls and the Feminine Ideal Courtesy of/Philadelphia Museum of Art

Victorian dolls had miniature versions of the garments and accessories of a well-to-do Victorian lady.

This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present the new exhibit "Little Ladies: Victorian Fashion Dolls and the Feminine Ideal," featuring four dolls that were made in France in the 1860s and 1870s.

The dolls – known as Miss Fanchon, Miss G. Townsend, Miss French Mary and Marie Antoinette – each have an extravagant wardrobe of miniature, detailed clothing and accessories.  


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For example, in Miss Fanchon's collection of more than 150 objects, there are two-inch gloves with gussets, points and button closures.

The dolls have everything a well-to-do lady would have during the time period, including hoop skirts, clothing hangers (not yet common in most homes at the time), opera glasses, bonnets and jewelry.

“The fortunate young girl who played with one of these dolls – changing clothes for different times of day, paying social calls, hosting tea parties and mimicking other grown-up behaviors – could imagine her future life," said Kristina Haugland, exhibition organizer.

By playing with the dolls, privileged Victorian girls could begin to master the art of dressing and etiquette, to become what society at the time considered the ideal woman.

The exhibit, while showing off the dolls and their miniature possessions, will touch on how social ideals and values are often subtly imparted to children.

"Little Ladies" will open in mid-November and will be on view through early March.


"Little Ladies: Victoria Fashion Dolls and the Feminine Ideal"

Sunday, Nov. 11 through Sunday, March 3
Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., Philadelphia, PA 19130