When the winning bid for a doll designed by French artist Albert Marque was cast, the room in Naples, Fla. burst into applause. The doll was presented by renowned auction house Theriault's, which is a specialty auctioneer of antique childhood items. Dressed in its original, signed costume, the "Albert Marque bebe" drew in crowds and broke the world record reaching a $300,000 winning bid. This total beat out the previous record, also held by an Albert Marque doll, which garnered a winning bid of $263,000 at an antiques auction in July 2009.
Only 100 models of this doll were created in 1916 by Albert Marque, and the one up for auction at Theriault's event was described as being No. 27. It is believed to have been presented at an event at a Parisian fashion boutique held in 1916 by art patron Jeanna Margaine-Lacroix. The doll was one of nearly 1,000 pieces that Theriault's, an Annapolis, MD-based firm, received from the Puppenmuseum Stein am Rhein, a prominent doll museum located in a small village in Switzerland.
"The Albert Marque bebe has long been considered the most coveted doll in the world by collectors," said Theriault's president Stuart Holbrook. "It is for good reason in that this renowned art doll blends every essential characteristic of greatness: rarity, artistic provenance, fashion, romance, and, most importantly, unparalleled beauty."
Albert Marque was a French sculptor and doll maker during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He became famous for his charming sculptures of children, which he designed in custom-made clothes that celebrated French history and culture. During World War I, Parisian couture fashion boutique owner Jeanne Margaine-LaCroix convinced Marque to create 100 custom dolls, which were exhibited in Paris in 1915. Some of these rare sculptures were kept in Margaine-Lacroix's illustrious inventory, while others were sold. Marque became known for his dolls' costumes, which were designed to represent regional French royalty as well as the peasantry. Marque created these dolls in wartime as a response to the popularity of German dolls and did so for adults' collections rather than as toys for children. The dolls themselves became known as "A. Marque" dolls, due to the the mark placed on them by the sculptor.
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