Friday, March 8, 2013

The Art of Play: The Tiller-Clowes Music Hall Ball Juggler Marionette, 1870-1890

Trick Marionette
Tiller-Clowes Family, 1870-1890
The Victoria & Albert Museum

We've looked at other puppets from the Victorian Tiller-Clowes marionette troupe. The V&A houses thirty-five of the troupe's Nineteenth Century figures, most of which retain their original paint and costumes. In 1945, George Speaight purchased the collection and worked to restore the puppets. Upon his death, the collection was left to the V&A.

This marionette, in his original outfit, represents a ball juggler. This figure would have been inordinately complicated to operate. The balls which the figure can "juggle" can be made to rest on his feet, hands or head. Such trick puppets were often used as entertainment before a show or between acts and also enjoyed independent success when members of the troupe would perform alone as a novelty at a music hall.

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