Friday, 10 June 2016

Fascinating Bertha (Penrose) & Ralph Wright Story And Their Bloomsbury Group Connections - Makers Of Some Exquisite Dolls House Miniatures!

Remember earlier in the year when some extremely rare and quite stunning Bertha (Penrose) and Ralph Wright dolls house furniture was put up for sale on KT Miniatures?  (Here's Link). Since then much of the collection has been sold but I simply couldn't part with everything so certain pieces have been kept.
 This massive wardrobe with Bertha's exquisite hand painted oriental design is now residing in the nursery of my 1930s Hobbies dolls house.
 The beautiful hand painted floral sofa and armchair all made by Bertha and carved out of single blocks of wood,  is now in situ in my 1930s Hobbies living room. Ok, the scale is a little smaller than the 1930s Pit-a-Pat rexine suite that was there previously, but I rarely bother about any disparity of scale in my old dolls houses, and instead just fill with tiny treasures that I love.
This Bertha & Ralph armchair, also carved out of one single block of wood, has simply been painted in a rich terracotta colour and is perfect for the corner of the main bedroom of my old Hobbies house. Other bits and pieces are also scattered within this same dolls house, as well as my vintage toy shop and some are still in a box as I decide where to put them!

 The provenance of this collection was so intriguing though,  that I felt compelled to find out more about these makers. The story is a fascinating one and even now, am quite certain that there is far more to unravel.

It is often so difficult to prove the provenance of an old dolls house or old dolls house items. Sometimes we hit lucky and there is accompanying printed documentation or maybe an inscription or even photos, but generally that is rare.  Most of the time there is no proof whatsoever and often I have to go on just hearsay or supposition.

With the Bertha (Penrose) & Ralph Wright Collection, I was lucky to have a whole printed sheet containing a couple of black and white photos and some handwritten notes which came with the dolls house furniture. And then, as you will see in the article, I was lucky enough to find one tiny set of initials in the corner of the hand painted screen which was enough to satisfy me that the provenance was 100% legitimate.

I must give special thanks to Rebecca Green, owner of the wonderful Dolls Houses Past & Present website and also editor of her website's online magazine, who discovered several useful snippets of information with regards to both Bertha and Ralph, all of which enabled me to proceed that much further in my own research. Am now delighted to say that  Ralph & Bertha Wright's article with regards to their dolls house furniture, dolls houses plus all the information that both Rebecca and I have currently found out about them can now be seen on page five of the March/June Issue:


The ties between Bertha & Ralph and the Bloomsbury Group are even more entwined than first thought. And actually, just this last week as I have been laid low whilst fighting the dreaded throat/cough/cold lurgy that is currently doing the rounds, I have read from cover to cover "Bloomsbury's Outsider-A Life Of David Garnett" By Sarah Knight. There have been several references in this book of Alec Penrose (Bertha's first husband) and Ralph Wright (Bertha's second husband) and both apparently were great friends of David Garnett.

How fantastic is it for just a small collection of old dolls house furniture to have this kind of information on their makers with such remarkable connections and history behind them. 

PS. If you have never seen Rebecca's website as yet and are a lover of dolls houses, particularly old dolls houses, then you are missing a treat...please do go take a look! Not only is there a massive gallery on there of many old dolls houses and related items, but there is of course the entire current issue of the online magazine to feast your eyes on, plus an archive of all back issues freely available to all - packed to the brim with fascinating information:


Robin said...

This is such a fascinating story, and so well researched Celia. Having seen much of the furniture when it first arrived with you I can absolutely see why you love it and just had to find out more.

KT Miniatures said...

Cheers Robin. Am still finding out more snippets with regards to these people even now. Is so fascinating. Celia