From royalty to actresses to artists to the wealthy and influential, history shows us that dollhouses have been loved by many famous individuals. Creating fabulous dollhouses can be a very expensive hobby so it makes sense that some of the world’s most extravagant and well known dollhouses were owned by the rich and famous. The world has gained a tremendous social history through the dollhouse collections of people who could afford nothing but the best in miniatures.
The first recorded dollhouse was commissioned by Duke Albrecht of Bavaria in 1558. He created it as a tribute to the home of a German prince and upon completion he gave it to a museum. This dollhouse set the standard for royal dollhouses with four stories, dressing rooms, a courtyard, a ballroom, a withdrawing room, a sewing room, and a nursery. The furnishings were elegant and included sterling silver accessories and silk draperies.
The oldest dollhouse in England was created for Ann Sharp, the god daughter of Queen Anne. The multi room dollhouse a complete set of dollhouse dolls made either of wood or wax and included family members and household staff all of which were handed down with names and descriptions.
Queen Mary’s Dollhouse in England is considered to be one of the three great dollhouses in the world, with the others being Coleen Moore’s fairy castle and Titania’s Palace in Denmark. Queen Mary’s Dollhouse was conceived as a gift to Queen Mary who was the wife of King George V. The one of a kind dollhouse contains work by artisans from all over the world and provides us with a fairly accurate depiction of royal life in the late 1800’s. Coleen Moore, a star of the silent screen, is the creator of the Fairy Dollhouse which was designed by Harold Grieve, a well known set and interior designer. More than 700 artists and crafts people contributed to the twelve foot high dollhouse which contains more than 2,000 miniatures. It is now housed permanently in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Titania’s Palace was a project of Sir Neville Wilkinson, who created a miniature palace to be home to Titania, the Queen of the Fairies. James Hicks & Sons were the Irish cabinet makers who built the eighteen room dollhouse to specifications provided by Sir Neville. The dollhouse is currently on loan to the Egeskov Castle in Denmark owned by Count Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig Bille.
It has recently come to public knowledge that the reclusive heiress Huguette Clark, the daughter of William A. Clark, the copper magnate, spent much of her life and fortune creating dollhouses that are gems of artistic design. Her dollhouses contain work from top international artists included dollhouses of Japanese design and German dollhouses depicting beloved children’s stories. The public has yet to see the dollhouses but reportedly the collection will eventually make its way to a museum to be enjoyed by all.