Friday, April 5, 2013

Drawing of the Day: Punch Composing a Polka, c. 1850

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This beautiful hand-colored lithograph is undated and has no provenance. I’d place it circa 1850. Part of the massive collection in the V&A in the George Speaight Punch & Judy Archive, we see a polychrome Punch composing a Polka—as he would. Punch, as the voice of the people, was often associated with music and found himself the subject of many a polka and dance song.

Frankly, I wish I knew more about the origins of this piece, the artist and the publisher, but, I’m really just glad it has survived. If the utmost fascination is the intelligent, thoughtful look on Mr. Punch’s face as he works. Anyone could associate with Mr. Punch in some way—from noblemen to the laborer on the street. He managed to rise above his comical tragedy and his impish (and murderous) misbehavior, to become a true icon of the arts and society.

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