Friday, September 13, 2013

The Art of Play: The Paul Hansard Mr. Punch, 1939

Paul Hansard, 1939
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Celebrated English puppeteer Paul Hansard originally crafted this handsome Mr. Punch in 1939.  After a long rest, the puppet was resurrected in 1971 when Hansard launched his puppet show, "Sausages" at the Little Angel Marionette Theatre in Islington.  This 1971 show is considered the true origin of Hansard's career as a one-man puppeteer.  Previously, Hansard is famed for working on the 1955 ITV puppet show "Johnny and Flonny" which centered around the adventures as a rabbit and a little boy who were prone to episodic kerfuffles.  

According to the V&A, where this puppet now resides, "Over the course of his career as a one-man puppet show between 1971 and 1994 Paul Hansard created 13 shows, gave 3,971 performances and made over 200 puppets."

One of the earliest of Hansard's creations, this glove puppet sports a carved wooden head with featured augmented by  papier mâché, gray fur fabric makes Punch's hair.  This fine Punchinello is dressed in a white cotton piqué ruff,a red and yellow pointed hat with a bell attached, and a long yellow and red felt costume with six metal buttons.  The costume has been made to cover the puppeteer's wrist and lower arm, as per usual.  However, an unusual detail is that Punch has leather, instead of wooden, hands.  

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