Secret Life of Antiques: Oh! You Beautiful Doll. Boudoir Dolls

I love these beautiful glamorous old girls! Called Boudoir Dolls, and mostly from the 1920’s and 1930’s, they come in different sizes, shapes and quality. French designer Paul Poiret is credited for starting the boudoir doll fad, the first dolls that were commercially available were found at a trade show in France that was part of the recovery process after WWI. These beautiful Dolls were considered to be “Art” Dolls or called Salon Dolls.


The most expensive ones come from France, and have Silk Faces, truly elegant poupée de boudoir. They are {no surprise there} my favorites.  These Boudoir Dolls were all the rage, they symbolized the new found freedoms women were experiencing for the first time. As the Edwardian era, with long layered clothing and high boots gave way to the Flapper Era or Jazz Age, women were thrilled with their new modern “bobbed” hair styles, loose dresses and flat shoes. Dolls like this were sold in the upscale Paris Department store Au Bon Marche in the 1920’s.

Screen actresses such as Marlene Dietrich, Clara Bow and others were photographed with these dolls, increasing their popularity and proving that they were clearly for adults and not children.  Film Studios issued collectible photographic postcards with their popular actresses and “their” dolls .



The Antique French Silk Faced Boudoir Doll, {poupée de boudoir} below is from a Parisian collector’s estate. Her beautiful face is handpainted and covered in Silk, with painted eyelashes, pert mouth and absolutely charming, gorgeous eyes. She is truly an exquisite beauty, dressed as Pierrot in Pink and Black  Faille. Pierrot and Pierrette have been French pantomime favorites for over two centuries. Pierrot {or Pierrette, since she is a girl!} is just darling, her jaunty cap of Pink and Black sits off to one side, with a fluffy pompom, over her braided Black floss hair. She wears a Pink  long top, with the ruffled collar, and all five pompoms are still fluffy and present.  Her long legs {some call them her very best feature!} are encased in long pants, edged with a Black cuff. She still has her original Black high heeled shoes, too.


Boudoir dolls are characterized by their long limbs. Their heads are made of Composition {“Comp0”} or molded Cloth or Silk faces. Most dolls have Cloth bodies, some have Composition hands and feet and a rare few have Compo Bodies and even waists that turn. They are beautifully painted with Blush and Eye Shadow. Some dolls are “Smokers” {Cubeb}, some have eyelashes made of real Camel’s Hair, and some even sport a few distinguishing Beauty Marks.


These girls are full of character ~ This one certainly has it to spare! She is exquisite, an all original French Boudoir Doll {poupée de boudoir} from Paris, I fell in love with her the minute she glanced at me! She has a beautiful face, hand painted and covered in Silk, with a pert mouth and smokey~ oh! just gorgeous eyes. She is an extremely rare Boudoir Doll, and is in good condition for her age, a rare petite size. Dolls like this were sold in the upscale Paris Department store Au Bon Marche in the 1920’s. This particular Boudoir Bebe is exceptionally dressed in her original costuming in sumptious materials and detailing.


Her face is so very lovely, and her Blonde “floss” hair is platinum blonde, all the rage. She looks so wonderful for her age {she is, after all, well over 90, but don’t you dare tell!} she does have slight indentation on her petite nose and lovely chin. On the back of her neck, she has a patch of silk, a repair done long ago. This beautiful girl is dressed in a soft Luminous Shimmery Gold Bullion Lamé Dress edged with French Lamé Lace trim and French White Fur.  She wears a jacket of Lavender and gold, also edged with White Fur, cinched at her waist with Gold Lamé Metallic Lame Ribbon studded with faux pearls and rhinestone buttons. Ever fashion concious, she is wearing a gorgeous Art Deco neck piece comprised of steelcut beads in the early flapper style. Underneath her clothing, she has a short wired underskirt made of skrim to hold her skirt in shape. Her arms and legs are made of fabric, as are her sewn on Lavender shoes. Filled with sawdust, one leg has been resewn and restuffed, Cream White Silk ribbons are tied over her legs.


Another fabulous Antique French Silk Faced Boudoir Doll from Paris, a collector’s estate. Absolutely wonderful face and hair, her beautiful face is handpainted and covered in Silk, with those feathery eyelashes {camel hair}, pert mouth and smokey, gorgeous eyes. She is truly an elegant and exquisite beauty.  It’s rare to find a doll this well taken care of, her hair still had the original netting, and is 100% intact, a miracle. I never find these beauties with much hair at all, let alone the original hair net intact. This doll’s hair is in the long curls favored at the court of Marie Antoinette.

Meet Marie, she is all French, all girl, all gorgeous!  She has a wonderfully hand painted face, feathery eyelashes, and enough coquettish charm to light up a room.  Her gown is the softest Paris Pink, and trimmed in Antique French Net Lace. Gathered French net puffed sleeves tied with ribbons encase her arms. The shimmering Faille gown is tied at the waist with an Cream hand made crochet lace ribbon and a petit bouquet of velvet and satin flowers, to match the flowers she wears in her hair underneath her bonnet. The gown has a few small age holes here and there.


{Marie has sold}

Underneath it all, like any proper young French lady, she wears a pale Pink slip, then an underskirt of Apricot faille, followed by a lace trimmed Pink tulle petticoat, another Cream skrim lace trimmed petticoat, and finally, her finest Cream Silk Pantaloons edged in lace. {thank goodness she has help dressing every morning!} She wears elegant Pink Brocade shoes with “buckles” and Gold high heels, tied with Pink ribbons around her ankles. Around her neck she wears a ribbon studded with pearls.

Prices range from relatively inexpensive ($100 or under if you are lucky!) for the more common, lesser quality and more mass produced dolls to well over $3000. for a more rare doll. Condition is important, although for the Silk Faced Dolls some wear is perfectly normal even at that price.

This French Doll is a Beauty! Wearing her original Peach Charmeuse “Rose Petal” Gown, she is dressed in the French Court Fashion. Her Dress is quite shimmery, and just lovely! She has Lace Pantaloons, tied with Ribbons, a Lace inset in her Gown, the original Mother~of~Pearl Pin at her waist, Pearls…and Gold Painted Slippers painted right on her feet. Her face is mostly in very good condition, a few parts slightly dented, as almost all these ladies from France with the Silk Faces have, but she has been kept wonderfully clean, which really affects price.

She is considered to be in quite good condition for her age. She has her Platinum Floss Hair done in French Court Ringlets, and her Hat, though loose here and there, still has the Ostrich Plumes which are in fabulous condition. She is quite a grande “Dame”….  {edited to add she is SOLD}

Once you buy one of these girls, you will fall in love. They love having friends, and like all of us women, enjoy each other’s company tremendously! To start or add to your collection, I advise to always buy the best, highest quality dolls you can afford. One great doll is a much better investment than four average or not great dolls.

If you want to romance your Home and Garden with antique and vintage treasures to make you smile each time you come home, visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.

8 thoughts on “Secret Life of Antiques: Oh! You Beautiful Doll. Boudoir Dolls”

  1. These are so beautiful. One thing I do love about FrenchGardenHouse, you always buy and sell the most unusual, BEST antique and vintage items. Things I just can’t get anywhere else. Merci beaucoup. Looking forward to my 2014 shopping adventure with FrenchGardenHouse!

  2. I collect the boudoir dolls. The ones you have are special, not easy to find. I bought the last flower petal one you had, she arrived and is now the ultimate in my collection. Thanks again. Barrymore

  3. So pretty, these dolls look so good on a guest bed. I still o
    Love the one I bought from you last year! But these, they make me want another one.

  4. Awwww now I want to have one of these! I’ve seen dolls like this before, but yours are the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen.

  5. Elizabeth

    They are all beautiful dolls. I was given a doll, it seems this style. I don’t know much about her . She seems to have a silk face hand painted and matte ceramic legs and arms the rest of the body is soft. She has a hand written tag number 35.

  6. Pat kurs

    Love your collection.
    I am a boudoir doll photographer and would like to see your prices and when you get new ones!!
    And I agree, the French are really sublime.
    Best to you,
    Pat Kurs

    1. Pat, thank you! The dolls in this post are now all happily living with their new families. : ) The really good dolls are so magical, I agree!

  7. Brenda Breen

    Love this! Just discovered this bit of history, and would like to know more. Is there a Boudour Doll organization where I could communicate with other who are as enthralled as i?

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