Friday, August 23, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The Will Judge Mr. Punch, c. 1900

This and all related images from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

[He] kissed like Punchinello, or a sucking pig.
--a Seventeenth-Century Ballad

Our amorous, violent, vocal, gentle Mr. Punch has been a part of the history of art for over three hundred fifty years, and, before that, he trotted about Italy as Pulcinella.  Throughout all this time, Punch has been relatively unchanged in his characteristics to his red corduroy suit and conical hat to his squeaky voice and anti-establishment personality.

Every so often, we'll come across a Mr. Punch who is a little different from the norm, an idea which would not bother Punchinello in the least.  Since, in the Summer of 2013, The V&A has added quite a few new antique puppets to their collection, I thought that we'd take a look at some of them.

Made in 1900, this glove puppet of Mr. Punch features the carved, painted, wooden face with characteristic hooked nose and chin associated with our chum.  From his black-painted eyes to his wig of rabbit fur, he's all Punch, complete with wooden arms, hands, calves and feet.

What's different about this Punch is his costume.  He wears a yellow silk conical hat with red bias binding trim, and a yellow silk tunic and breeches. His hat, ruff, hump, jacket and trousers are decorated with a purple, green and pink embroidered trim with a triangular repeating edge.

While we don't know who made him, we do know that this is one of a set of Punch & Judy figures donated by the son of the "
Norfolk Comedian," Will Judge (1882-1960) who was also known as the "Refined Comedian and Patterer." Will's son, Patric Judge, who donated the figures, does not remember when his father acquired the set, or seeing him perform with them.

Along with the puppets, Patric Judge gave his father's records to the V&A.  Curiously, while Will Judge's career in Panto and on stage is well-documented, there's not one mention to his time as a Punch & Judy Man.

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