Measuring approximately 7.25 inches high, this magnificent Black Americana Vargas wax figure is mounted on its original wooden platform and is one of a series of fascinating "street character wax dolls" conceived of and crafted by Mrs. Concepcion Vargas Alfonso, daughter of the world-renowned, turn-of-the-20th century, New Orleans, Spanish sculptor, Francisco Vargas.
From approximately 1910 through the 1930's, Mrs. Concepcion Vargas-Alphonso, influenced by the great artistry of her famous father who also sculpted in wax, crafted a variety of wax dolls inspired by the black folk she saw on New Orleans's street corners selling their wares or practicing their trade - black folk performing everyday activities that would have been daily seen on the streets of the city.
Sold exclusively at the time through Harriet's, of 318 Rue Royal in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the completely hand-made, one-of-a-kind dolls are seldom found on today's market due to their inherently fragile nature, making them highly sought after in the Black Memorabilia / Black Americana Collectible arena.
This figure, known as the Female Vegetable Seller Smoking a Pipe, was recently de-accessioned from the Louisiana State University Rural Life Museum collection, Baton Rouge, LA, having been acquired by the museum from a private collector in January 1979.
The Female Vegetable Seller Smoking a Pipe was one of the most popular of the renowned Vargas figures, highly sought after by visitors to the city of New Orleans. Her vegetables were hand-sculpted with exquisite detail and coloring, and her corncob pipe evens presents a red flame in the center of the pipe's bowl, adding to the superlative character authenticity of this Vargas street vendor.
Vargas wax figures are distinctly characterized by their interesting but highly exaggerated facial features. This gentlewoman Vegetable Seller wears a yellow floral kerchief around her neck, a red patterned bandanna on her head, a red, blue, and yellow plaid shirt and skirt, a blue floral-patterned apron around her waist, and black "leather" shoes. Her costume is entirely constructed of actual cloth fabric that was coated with a fine layer of clear wax to stiffen them. The Vegetable Seller's wax body is internally supported by a wire frame through which the figure is securely attached to the wooden base which, underneath, still retains its original "Harriet's" sticker.
This wonderful figure is in incredible condition for her 90+ years of age with, amazingly, only one minor restoration likely performed by the professionals at the LSU Rural Life Museum: a repaired carrot held in her right hand! It is a true rarity that the Vegetable Seller's corncob pipe and all fingers remain present given their highly delicate and fragile nature!
A true must-have piece for the ardent collector of New Orleans Black folk character figures!
Please take a moment to view the additional Vargas figures we currently have the pleasure of offering for sale. Type "Vargas" into the search box on our website homepage.