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Nearly as dramatic as the introduction of molded-felt faces was the introduction of the R. John Wright children dolls in 1981. Not only was the medium of felt well suited to a child's form, but in gravitating towards child dolls, the Wrights were continuing an important tradition of dollmaking. Early twentieth century makers had widely made children their principal subject.
When Susan and John began to consider making child dolls they had been honing their craft with adult Character Dolls dressed in ethnic clothing. But their eyes had been opened by the antique dolls they had been examining - and had begun to collect - and these influences mixed with their own developing style. And so, inspired by the sturdy playful cloth forms of Kathe Kruse and Lenci as well as the realistic German bisque Kammer & Reinhardt child dolls, John began to sculpt what would become the Little Children face and Susan began to draft the patterns for a new childlike body.
In designing the first RJW child dolls, the Wrights' were also inspired by their own toddler, Lillian. Indeed, she became one of the Little Children series of eight dolls: Lillian; Jesse; Tad; Hannah; Becky; Peter; William; and Elizabeth. In the process, the Wrights created their own distinctly late twentieth-century child doll. With their rounded body forms and face shapes and their half-somber/half-smiling expressions, the Little Children managed to suggest both readiness to play and a willingness to share in quiet reflection. Antique doll collectors responded immediately to the evocation of early dollmakers implicit in the work, and many found themselves, for the first time, collecting contemporary dolls.
William and Elizabeth from the original Little Children series stand approximately 17" tall, and are fully jointed and constructed of fine wool felt with a molded face, hand painted features, a mohair wig, and felt hands with sewn fingers.
Elizabeth is costumed in an outfit inspired by the illustrations of fame American illustrator, Jessie Willcox Smith. She wears a dusty rose-colored cotton sleeveless dress with a Peter Pan collar which closes in the back with mother-of-pearl buttons. This is topped by a cotton smock with 3/4 length sleeves that ties in the back. Like the other Little Children females, Elizabeth wears a batiste teddy under her clothing. Cotton anklets, hand-cobbled felt tie-strap shoes, and a maroon felt bow in her hair, provide the perfect finishing touches. Under one arm, Elizabeth holds a miniature storybook (not shown in photo). This doll is #121 in the edition of 250 pieces.
William's darling costume was also inspired by the illustrations of Jessie Willcox Smith. He wears a two-piece romper made of cotton 'feathercord' corduroy which buttons at the waist with mother-of-pearl buttons. Cotton socks and hand-cobbled white felt shoes complete his charming period ensemble. This doll is #163 in the edition of 250 pieces.
William and Elizabeth each have the tiny foil "Periwinkle" medallion sewed to their clothing. The Periwinkle tag was only used for a very short time in the 1980's before the brass RJW button was introduced. The dolls are boxed in the first-ever RJW deluxe presentation boxes.
The William and Elizabeth offered here were made in 1983 and come directly from R. John Wright Archives in pristine as-new condition.
The online purchase price includes shipping and insurance in the domestic United States. For overseas shipping rates, please contact the RJW office. You may also place your order request via phone at 1-802-447-7072. All orders are subject to availability.