The doll pictured is known to the Museum as the ‘Old Pretender’, as it was believed that she had once belonged to the court of King James II at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (the original Old Pretender was James Stuart, son of King James II). The doll is said to have been given as a gift to a family of loyal servants by a member of the Stuart family.
The Old Pretender doll dates from about 1680 and is very rare, as it is widely believed that dolls like this were not deemed important enough to keep, and fewer than thirty have survived from this period.
Early wooden dolls would have been made in England in the London area. These types of dolls are often referred to as ‘Queen Anne’ dolls. They are extremely well-made by expert craftsmen and were dressed in stylish period dress. Expensive to buy, they were designed as lavish ornaments for adults rather than playthings for children.
The Old Pretender doll has been carved from pine, which was readily available in England. The head and body is carved from one piece of pine, with a narrow waist and wide hips, typical of this period. The arms are very long and attached with fabric, the legs carved with joints at the knee. The doll’s face and hands are coated with gesso, painted with features and then probably varnished. The doll’s clothes have been made with fine materials and then secured to the body, as clothes were not designed to be changed as they are today.