Friday, February 17, 2012

Painting of the Day: Punch in the Country , 1852

Punch in the Country
Charles James Lewis, 1852
The George Speaight Punch and Judy Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Click to enlarge.

The celebrated and prolific watercolor and oil painter Charles James Lewis RI (1830-1892) specialized in landscapes and bucolic genre paintings of children and animals. Here, we see the subject matter and detailed brushwork which defined Lewis’ painting.

The scene from 1852 depicts the Punch and Judy booth of a traveling showman with Mr. Punch visible and a drummer (acting as a “bottler” to collect money) accompanying the performance.  While Punch is the centerpiece of the painting, Lewis is careful to reveal that his real interest was not in the performance but in the audience and the small details of daily life in the countryside.  These details include a baby in a wheeled cart, children peeping into the booth, a picturesque countryside cottage with a family gathered outside, and a puppy.

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