The True Art Of Rare Legendary Barbie Issues From Mattel
In 2019, Barbie turned 60. Throughout her history, she managed to try on a great variety of images, to be the heroine of various films, to work with designers, artists, to be one of the artists herself and even to their paintings, to visit world holidays and carnivals. Collectors know Barbie as Marie Antoinette, Juliet, Mona Lisa, Elvis Presley, Scarlet O’Hara, Merlin Monroe, Grace Kelly, Kate Middleton, and even Claude Monet’s Water Lily, as well as the Sydney Opera House and the Statue of Liberty.
Real Person Behind Barbie
Mattel does not stop and every year comes up with new roles for its main character, which makes people of all ages around the world very happy. Barbara Millicent Roberts (according to legend, this is the real name of Barbie) is very versatile, and we invite you to look at her in the key of world art.
How It All Began
The history of the most collectible doll in the world began in 1958, when its creator decided to make a fundamentally new “adult” doll for little girls. The doll was an overwhelming success among children. However, 20 years later, the first girls who played it grew up and the doll ceased to be only for children, Barbies began to collect – play dolls, accessories, special editions, clothes. This is what inspired Mattel to create the first collectible series.
The first collectible Barbie comes out in 1979, her outfit is more thoughtful, and the circulation is limited. Such dolls were no longer intended for children’s games, but for buyers over 14 years old, for connoisseurs.
Way of Success
The first series of collectible Barbies was “Dolls of the World” (“Dolls of the world” or “Dolls of the peoples of the world”). The dolls were dressed in national costumes, had certain external features, and were completed with accessories. For example, one of the first such dolls, Parisian Barbie, from 1979, has a flirty garter on its leg, and a Barbie from the Netherlands is dressed in national wooden shoes – clomps. By the way, this is the oldest series of collectible dolls and the largest of the continuous ones.
Collectible Barbies were well received and Mattel decided to go beyond Dolls of the World.
The portrait series is truly amazing. This is not a collaboration with a particular artist, not an image inspired by a particular painting, not portrait dolls, but collective images of female portraits of a particular era. The creators do not reveal all the secrets and do not say which paintings inspired them when creating the collection, but upon closer examination, you can catch the features or whole images of beauties from great works.
The dolls in their boxes look like paintings. They are gilded frames and each has a hook on the back so it can be hung on the wall. There are three dolls in the collection: Mademoiselle Isabelle 2002, Lady Camille 2003, and Duchess Emma 2003.
Mademoiselle Isabella is a collective character. This is France of the XVIII century, rococo, an abundance of jewelry, ruffles, ribbons, and lace. She – and the Marquise de Pompadour from the portraits of Francois Boucher, and flying on the “Swing” by Jean Honore Fragonard, and his own kissing furtively.
Lady Camilla most of all resembles women from portraits of Franz Winterhalter, for example, “Elizabeth Princess of Austria”, or you can look at her more patriotically and see in Lady Camille the features of N.N. Goncharova from the famous portrait by Alexander Bryullov.
Emma is the final beauty in the portrait series. With the color of her outfit, her hat with ostrich feathers, and the name “Duchess Emma”, she certainly refers us to “The Lady in Blue” (the second name is “Portrait of the Duchess de Beaufort”) by Thomas Gainsborough.
The museum collection
This collection is an amazing combination of fashion and fine art. Three dolls are the three greatest paintings. La Gioconda by Leonardo Da Vinci, Adele by Klimt and Starry Night by Van Gogh. It is interesting that the first two dolls are portrait ones, and the third one is a pure fantasy of authors inspired by Starry Night.
Despite the fact that the dolls are from the same series, they are absolutely different from each other, and each one exactly conveys the mood of its picture. You can look at the Mona Lisa’s outfit in full growth, admire Adele and see the “Starry Night” as if in female form.
Barbie Doll Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci “Portrait of Mrs. Lisa del Giocondo”
Barbie Doll Inspired by Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I”
Barbie Doll Inspired by Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh “Starry Night”
Here you can add the 1997 “Water Lily Barbie”. Claude Monet. It does not belong to the museum collection and came out 14 years earlier, but this doll, like the three previous ones, is a puppet embodiment of the artist’s most famous painting.
Water Lily Barbie Doll
Claude Monet “Water Lilies”
Prima Ballerina Collection
The series includes two beautiful fine porcelain ballerinas – Lighter Than Air Barbie Doll (2001) and Classic Grace Barbie Doll (2002). The creators of the series found inspiration in the paintings of Edgar Degas. On the box “Lighter than air Barbie” is a reproduction of the painting “On the Stage”, but the doll itself is more reminiscent of the painting “Star”. The doll repeats the pose, outfit, hairstyle of the heroine from the canvas, even the details match.
The Classic Grace box features a reproduction of Two Dancers, although the doll itself certainly looks more like one of the Dancers in Pink. The dolls ‘layered chiffon skirts resemble Degas’ palette of colors.
The dolls are static and have not been sold in Italy, France, or Germany.
Classic Ballet Series
The name already reflects the essence of the collection – ten dolls, each of which is inspired by the most famous classical ballets. Here Clara’s Christmas dream comes to life again in one of the most beloved ballets in the world, The Nutcracker, written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and the beautiful ballerina Peppermint Candy Barbie Doll ( 2002), inspired by the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the Swan Princess – Barbie Doll as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake 1998, and Barbie Doll as Titania 2004 from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 2004, the series Barbie Doll as Juliet ends in 2004 – the tender and young Juliet of Shakespeare.
By the way, the first Barbie ballerina Ballerina Barbie Doll was released in 1976, she was dressed in a classic white ballet tutu, white pointe shoes, and a golden crown flaunted on her doll head. The doll was playable, but now it is vintage and has value for collectors.
In 2018 Mattel begins releasing a series of Inspiring Women inspired by famous women, which includes Barbie American writer and aviation pioneer Amalia Earhart – the first woman to fly over the Atlantic Ocean, Rosa Parks – black rights activist, artist Frida Kahlo, and many others.
In 2017, as part of the Inspiring Women collection, Mattel releases a portrait of Barbie Frida Kahlo – Frida Khalo Barbie Doll. The doll caused a lot of controversies, as did the artist herself. The artist’s relatives sued Mattel for using the image of Frida, and the doll was even banned from sale in Mexico.
In 2016, Mattel creates the Misty Copeland portrait doll Misty Copeland Barbie Doll – a vibrant contemporary dancer, the first African-American woman in the world to become a soloist with a national ballet company, the American Ballet Theater. She is represented in a scene from the ballet, which brought her worldwide recognition and popularity, breaking the centuries-old stereotypes about black ballerinas – “The Firebird” by Igor Stravinsky.
Audrey Hepburn dolls collection
Since 1998, Mattel has produced four beautiful portrait dolls of Audrey Hepburn in her most famous looks: Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday Doll 2013 (Roman Holiday), and Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina Doll 2013 (“Sabrina”) in her famous dress.
One of the most striking was the collection dedicated to Elvis Presley “Barbie Loves Elvis”: Elvis Presley Doll 1998, Elvis The Army Years 1999, and Elvis and Priscilla Barbie ® Doll and Elvis Doll Giftset 2008.
Not without the most famous blonde in Hollywood – Marilyn Monroe – Barbie as Marilyn in the White Dress from The Seven Year Itch 1997.
There are a huge number of images and faces that Barbara Millicent Roberts tried on. The release of collectible series inspired by the masterpieces of painting, theater, and music, as well as collaborations with designers and artists, not only turns Barbie dolls into real works of art but also makes them available to collectors of all countries and ages.