A Large French Life-Size Articulated Fruit Wood and Brass Artists Lay Figure
Late 19th Century
See: Finch and Co catalogue no. 4, item no. 70, for another example of a lay figure
These doll-like models of the human figure are articulated and jointed so that it can be given all kinds of poses. They can be anything from a few inches in height to life-size. Early lay figures were mostly small and were called manikins, although Vasari mentions a wooden life-size, and fully articulated one made by the Italian Renaissance artist Fra Bartolommeo (1472 – 1517). Some 18th century portrait painters used a life-size figure completely jointed and covered with fabric on which they arranged costumes and used in the absence of the sitter in order to continue work on a picture. When Millais painted 'The Black Brunswicker' in 1859-60, (now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight), the models for the two lovers, with great Victorian decorum, posed separately, embracing a life-size lay figure.