There are pillows to be placed on the bed, plates to be put away in the kitchen, and chairs to be arranged at the table. Handmade in Germany in 1643, the delicate Nuremberg Dolls’ House is a rare and well-preserved time capsule of 17th century life in miniature.
This behind-the-scenes Victoria and Albert Museum video spends 13 quiet minutes observing curator Will Newton and conservators Robert Mitchell and Dana Melchar carefully dress the delicate V&A artifact with its accessories.
Who did this elaborate “toy” belong to? From the V&A:
“There are several clues about the family who would have owned a house like this. It is a merchant’s house, which was used for working as well as eating and sleeping. In those days a shop would use a picture or symbol for customers to see. A unicorn on the left door of the dolls’ house indicates that this house belonged to an apothecary or chemist. The family was clearly interested in religion as on the right door there is a picture of the important Protestant figure, Martin Luther (1483-1546), and there are some prayer books in the bedroom. The house itself is comfortable, with a well-equipped ‘best’ kitchen downstairs on the left which was used to entertain guests and receive customers.”
“This house has some surprisingly realistic features. For example, the upstairs room has a large water boiler as found in homes of the time, and there is a toilet or privy downstairs. Linen was an important symbol of status and wealth and would be proudly displayed. This dolls’ house has a beautifully full cupboard full of folded fabric.”
Up-close photos: The V&A shares a robust gallery of the doll’s house and its accessories on their site.
There’s also a 1639 doll house with 15 rooms and over 1,000 objects at Nuremburg‘s Germanische Nationalmuseum: Das Stromersche Puppenhaus.
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