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A5122 Hall figure, Mrs Devil (one of a pair), stained and ebonised wood, attributed to Francesco Toso, Venice, Italy, 1875-1890. Click to enlarge.

‘Mrs Devil’ hall figure attributed to Francesco Toso

Made 1875-1890
This is a carved wood Mephistophelian figure of 'Mrs Devil' in the form of a hall stand. The figure is one of a pair which once graced the front hall of the St Kilda mansion, Charmwood, 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 in about 1875 - 1890.

Summary

Object No.

A5122

Object Statement

Hall figure, Mrs 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 female, faun-like being dressed in an interpretation of late 1800s women?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 small horns, large pointed ears and is tilted down, it?s smiling face with several warts and piercing eyes. The left arm hangs to her side, the right is bent and raised from the elbow with the hand open and finger and thumb touching. The figure wears a draped, peaked cap over tightly curled hair, a heavy necklace and a scarf draped under the collarbone. Her jacket with wide collar and lapels is tightly-fitted and is worn open to reveal rounded breasts shaped by a restrictive corset. The jacket is shorter at the back to reveal a small bustle above the long, narrow skirt, both draped, above shoes with pointed toes.

Marks

None.

Dimensions

Height

1930 mm

Width

540 mm

Depth

600 mm

Production

Made

1875-1890

Notes

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.

History

Notes

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.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Cullen, P, 1960

Acquisition Date

21 January 1960

Cite this Object

Harvard

'Mrs Devil' hall figure attributed to Francesco Toso 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 May 2020, <https://ma.as/182478>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/182478 |title='Mrs 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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