There were a number of paper doll artists in the 19th century and a handful of them were famous (like Rafael Tuck), but it was refreshing to me to be introduced to a woman whose work was never published, who painted for the sole amusement of herself and her niece, and who left behind a wonderfully detailed extensive collection of paper doll families done in watercolor.
Anna Lindner was born in 1845. The image shown here was taken when she was about 18 years old. As a child, she contracted polio and was never able to walk. She taught herself painting and produced more than 600 pieces of work that have survived. A good deal more than half of these works were paper dolls, which she created for her niece Emilie, who apparently also suffered ill health. The work sat in an attic for 50 years before it was dug up and donated to the New Jersey Historical Society.
Among the things I really cherish about her work is how she personalized the characters (you can imagine the stories she and Emilie shared about the families and their interactions). Also, she created families spanning more than 50 years, so all of the eras are represented throughout her work from the 1850s through the turn of the century.
Pretty impressive! If that isn't enough, much of her work was double-sided, showing the fronts and backs of the clothing, and wonderfully detailed (shoes, accessories, hats, etc. ). She had a whole miniature little world of her own. On top of which I really love the vivid colors. After 100 years, these dolls look practically newly-painted!
You can see more pictures from the New Jersey Historical Society here. Also, read the American Heritage article about Anna Lindner here. The American Heritage article online unfortunately doesn't include the original pictures, but the two I have shared here come from that particular magazine. Click on the image to the left to see a little more detail.