Friday, May 24, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Mr. Punch's Devil, 19th Century

Watercolor painting, Nineteenth Century, Unknown artist, V&A
Watercolor Painting
Nineteenth Century
The George Speaight Archive at
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Worked in watercolor by an unknown artist and dating to the late Nineteenth Century, this drawing portrays a puppet devil and other grotesque characters. Since this is part of the V&A’s George Speaight Punch & Judy Collection, we can presume that the devil we see here was probably used as Mr. Punch’s Devil, however, the presence of the other puppet demons suggests that the painting depicts a group of figures which had many purposes. 

The work bears an inscription on the reverse.  While this handwritten note doesn’t give us any idea about the origins of the painting, it does give us a little sense of its life before coming to George Speaight and ending up in the V&A.

On the back, in pencil, is written, “Puppet/ devile from Faciet/ The [illigible] Puppet/ presented by Max Joseph/ to Mary/ May 14th 1963.”

Interesting.  All of that meant something to someone at one point. 

I really like this.  I wouldn’t want to display it in my home since it would scare Bertie, but I find it appealing in a devil puppet kind of way.

Reverse, watercolor painting, George Speaight Archive, V&A

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