an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

Piano Baby

photo of piano baby figurine

Piano Baby

The sun doesn’t often reach this corner, but in the late afternoon the clouds parted briefly and I felt someone was watching me from across the room. I guess I’ve never seen the Piano Baby illuminated in quite this way. If I had kept looking at her I would have begun formulating an arcane fictional story about how the Piano Baby came to life and probably began killing people or something, they never do nice things in these stories.

This is an artifact from my parent’s house, and it’s one of those items that was a permanent part of my visual memory of the house while we were growing up. I took it for granted, just seeing it as another one of the white or light-colored figurines my mother kept on a shadow box room divider. It always looked to me as if the baby had once been sitting in or on something, and perhaps holding something, in either case, that something was missing.

Then I discovered that it was an “item”, a “Piano Baby”. I’m not particularly attached to it, but I wouldn’t like to have seen it go into a stranger’s hands so I brought it to my house when I sold my mother’s house. I’m not a collector though I enjoy learning about things that are collected and why, so I never knew this was something other than a simple figurine until a friend who organizes estate sales and has a consignment and vintage store and has been a collector for years noticed it.

Apparently these were designed to hold the shawl on a piano in Victorian homes. I’m not so sure because these bisque figurines aren’t that big and they’re pretty lightweight, lighter than most piano shawls I’ve handled. They depict toddlers and were designed in many different styles and positions, lying down or standing, sometimes with animals or other babies. This one is fairly modest, but some seem a little suggestive with garments draped off the shoulder and somewhat provocative postures, I mean, for a toddler girl.

I’ve never seen this one in particular in any collector information and it has no maker’s mark on the bottom so it’s probably not a collector item. We did have a baby grand piano that had been my father’s growing up, but I never saw the baby on it. She’s still here, and I tried to clean the dirt from her, but in a test I also cleaned some of the paint that decorated her, so I left her as is.


2 responses

  1. the lustrous light and blend of shadows lends a sense of timeless memory here

    February 4, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    • Yes, from the time I can remember, this face is as familiar as a member of my family. You just never know what you’ll remember.

      February 4, 2010 at 10:09 pm

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