Friday, October 4, 2013

Sculpture of the Day: The Commedia dell'Arte Doctor, 1850

The Doctor
Italy, c. 1850
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here, we see a glazed figurine which depicts a grey-mustached Commedia dell'Arte character, most likely the Doctor. He has donned an elongated, brimmed maroon hat, a cream neck ruff, a black doublet and hose, with a black cape that is lined in yellow. He takes a foppish stance, with his left hand on his waist, and his right hand at his side. He is holding a roll of documents. His pedestal is decorated with two comedy masks and very rococo style shell-like patterns.

This figurine was probably manufactured in the second half of the Nineteenth Century, and is one of a set representing various characters from the Italian the Commedia dell'Arte. The Doctor, or 
Dottore, was traditionally portrayed as a pompous scholar from Bologna, and was essentially an academic version of the greedy Pantalone. He spoke in a haughty manner peppered with malapropisms and gibberish. This stock character was adopted into the Punch & Judy tradition and remains a part of the mythology of Mr. Punch to this day.

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