19th Century Italian Mannequin Life-Size Female Artists Lay Figure

Antique 19th century articulated lay figure, a carved beech life-size female figure of almost 66 inches, dating back to 1870 circa of Italian origin, coming from Milan. This artist’s mannequin is a young girl figure featuring small breasts and earlobe holes, is posable in multiple ways, with movable trunk, limbs, feet and hands, even the individual joints of the fingers and  the detail of the nails. This female atelier mannequin is in good condition, fully articulated, the pelvis only is slightly rigid, consistent with its 150 years age and use.
This mannequin is sculpted in a very realistic way, the face is expressive and posed with a lightly sketched-in smile, has a metaphysical look, well-modelled and carved hands, which have all the fingers articulated and the fingernails finished in detail.

This mannequin was created and used as studio tools, substituting the flesh model, they helped the artist to arrange perspective, to check the fall of light and shade, to paint drapery and clothing, allowing this way to verify the whole composition. In fact the naturalistic life-size mannequin – with articulated head, limbs, hands and feet – and an exterior finish painted or padded to look almost human, was born in the early 19th century. Since then lay figure acquires dignity and importance beyond its practical function, becoming in the first half of the 20th century, main subject in different works of art, as in some famous metaphysical paintings by De Chirico.

It is extremely rare to find life sized lay figures in such good condition due to heavy use. This Italian antique figural sculpture shows some traces of lacquer preparation, an old repair over the years in the toes of the left foot and the little finger of the left hand, as visible from the listed closed-up pictures. The wooden patina and color are wonderful.

Antique lay figures like this one can still be used today in the same way it was being used 150 years ago but they are more likely to be part of private collections for the artist memorabilia Wunderkammer lovers and Kunstkammer collectors, or simply as decorative sculpture in modern or period interiors. They certainly create an exclusive interest in any collection.

Period: 1800

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