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A5121 Hall figure, Mr Devil (one of a pair), stained and ebonised wood, attributed to Francesco Toso, Venice, Italy, 1875-1890. Click to enlarge.

‘Mr Devil’ hall figure attributed to Francesco Toso

Made 1875-1890
This is a carved wood Mephistophelian figure of 'Mr Devil' in the form of a hall stand. The carving is one of a pair which once graced the front hall of the St Kilda mansion, Charnwood, in Melbourne, owned by Mr Alfred David Hart, the donor's grandfather. Mr Devil's outstretched hand shows that he originally held a tray for calling cards. The 'Mr and Mrs Devil' figures are attributed to Francesco Toso and were made in Italy 1875 - 1890.


Object No.


Object Statement

Hall figure, Mr Devil (one of a pair), stained and ebonised wood, attributed to Francesco Toso, Venice, Italy, 1875-1890

Physical Description

Carved pine wood figure of a standing male, faun-like being dressed in an interpretation of late 1800s men?s fashion standing on a 600mm high stepped octagonal pedestal, the upper section with carved drapery. On its pedestal, the figure stands almost two metres tall and has an exaggerated S-bend posture which pushes the head forward and buttocks out. The head has prominent horns and large pointed ears with its face framed with fur-like hair, exaggerated eyebrows and ?goatee? beard. Dressed in a long-tailed coat with wide lapels, buttoned waistcoat, neck ruffle and standing collar, the details are carved to show a considerable amount of drapery. The lower body is carved to resemble hairy goat-like legs, with cloven hoofs and a long curving tail. The figure stands with its smiling face tilted down with piercing eyes, left hand in the coat pocket, the right extended from the elbow, the webbed palm held upwards to hold a platter, presumably for visiting cards.





1880 mm


540 mm


660 mm





Other similar pairs of these Mr and Mrs Devil hall figures are known to have been created and to be in existence. One belonging to the well known Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli and later her granddaughter, the actress Marisa Benson, sold on 23 January, 2014 at Christies, Paris, lot 114. The same pair later sold at Christie's Paris on 12-14 December 2018, lot 138. Another is known to be in the possession of a family in the United Kingdom.



Purchased by Alfred David Hart at an auction at the Ship Hotel, Greenwich, UK in 1908. Hart was a tobacco merchant and first Chairman of the British Australian Tobacco Co. He was born in Adelaide in 1850 and died in Melbourne in 1927. These figures were kept in the front hall of his home 'Charnwood', Charnwood Road, St Kilda, Melbourne. A D Hart's daughter, Elma married Samuel Cohen and inherited the figures which were displayed in the hall at the bottom of the stairs of their home at 89 Ocean Street Woollahra until 1948. The figures then passed to the donor Paul A. Cullen, son of the Cohens who changed his name during WWII. They were on display in the Cullen family home at 695 New South Head Road, Rose Bay, Sydney, until 1953 when the family moved to smaller premises.


Credit Line

Gift of Mr P Gullen, 1960

Acquisition Date

21 January 1960

Cite this Object


'Mr Devil' hall figure attributed to Francesco Toso 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 May 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title='Mr Devil' hall figure attributed to Francesco Toso |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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