Hand made marionette depicting a female Spanish dancer. It was manufactured and operated in Melbourne by Alex and Murray Smith, who performed as part of Le Forgeron Marionettes from 1930 until 1956.

Physical Description

Marionette depcting a Spanish Lady. She wears a long-sleeved, ankle-length dress, made of yellow satin-type fabric with black lace trim along the hem. Over this, she wears a black satin bustiere, and has a black lace shawl draped over her head and shouders. She wears a pink flower in her wavy brown hair. Her face is unlike the other marionettes as it has a fabric finish, perhaps it was purchased rather than made by the Smith family. She wears a lot of blush and eye make-up, and is in very good condition, although the tip of her nose is damaged. There are operating strings attached to numerous parts of her, including his head, limps and shoulders. The feet have been weighted.


On 11 May 1935, Melbourne's Argus newspaper published a piece about a local theatre company of '150 actors who sleep in a storeroom'. Almost 70 years later, and 50 years after their last performance, the same group awoke and made the journey to the museum. They are the puppets from Le Forgeron Marionettes, made and operated by a Melbourne family from the 1920s until 1956, including a residency at a purpose-built theatre in St Kilda's landmark Luna Park.

Scottish-born cabinet-maker Alex Smith took up puppetry as a hobby when he was a boy. Later, after performing in London, he moved his family to Melbourne in 1927, where his hobby became a full-time occupation. He and his wife and son made the marionettes, dressed them, constructed the sets, wrote the scripts and carried out the onstage and backstage functions needed to perform the plays. As well as performing in its permanent theatre, the company appeared at department stores, schools, town halls, church functions, private parties and various charity events.

The collection arrived at the museum with a small archive of newspaper clippings, programs, scripts and other documents, which gives an intriguing insight into the history and operation of Le Forgeron Marionettes. The clowns, bears, pirates, penguins, soldiers, kings and queens, monkeys and various other characters now have a permanent home, and will again be enjoyed by the people of Melbourne.

More Information