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Online Collections

Doll I



German doll-maker Käthe Kruse created dolls from 1910-1956 using only five different head molds: I, II, IV, VIII, and XII. Made in 1922, this Doll I style has a pressed muslin head and a cloth body stuffed with deer hair. The lace and embroidery details on her dress are typical of the handmade touches of Kruse dolls. Challenged by her husband in 1905 to create a doll for their daughter that was unlike the stiff porcelain ones of the day, Kruse assembled a sand-filled handkerchief on a potato. Forgoing vegetables, she refined her technique and had her own workshop by 1939. Kruse modeled many doll faces after her own children and grandchildren, incorporating a vast range of children's emotional expressions. Meticulously handcrafted, these so-called "character dolls" offered more realistic representations of children and babies. Intentionally weighty, Kruse dolls gave children a sense of cuddling real infants. Although Kruse died in 1968, her family continues to run the business, now in Donauwörth, Bavaria, making the ever-popular dolls in the traditional way. ; In the early 1900s, Kathe Kruse, mother to seven children and wife to the sculptor Max Kruse, began doll making when her oldest daughter at the age of three asked for a doll with which she could imitate her mother's care of her younger sister. Kruse's doll for her daughter was made of a rolled towel with a potato for a head. Kruse improved on the dolls she made, eventually settling on molded cloth dolls made especially to be unbreakable, washable, and warm and cuddly. In 1910 she exhibited her dolls in Berlin department store display of homemade toys and won quite a following. She hired five women to help her make and paint dolls in her apartment, filling orders from all over Germany and F.A.O. Schwarz in America. Kruse spoke of doll making to the "Ladies Home Journal": "Each doll goes through my hands at least twenty times. I think this is the secret of their success: not the technical solution-a man might have discovered that-but to create a baby, an innocent, sweet, foolish little thing-this was only possible for a woman, a mother who several times has held in her arms a loving, heavenly doll."

ManufacturerKathe Kruse
Materialpainted | cloth
Object ID78.13911

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