Monday, November 18, 2013

Figure of the Day: "Contributors to Punch," a Fairing, Nineteenth Century

Some Contributors to Punch
Fairing, made in Germany,
Nineteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum

I know I've posted this before, but I just like it so much, and it really fits with the day's posts, so here it is again...

The Victorian china objects called “fairings” are small porcelain ornaments which typically incorporated figures either alone or in groups, and depict a variety of scenes--humorous, political or domestic. Such ornaments usually rest on a base which often features a painted caption describing the scene. While most fairings are meant to be simply decorative, they were sometimes created to function as pinboxes, matchstrikers or holders for watches or small mirrors.  China fairings get their name from the fact that they were chiefly given away as prizes at Victorian era fairs starting around the middle of the Nineteenth Century and until the start of the First World War.

This fairing is predominantly a grayish-white porcelain on a rectangular base which is molded with scrollwork in the front, leaving a reserve upon which is inscribed: “Some contributors to Punch.”
  This reference to the popular “Punch Magazine” depicts four figures:  one is a man with the word 'Whiskey' written on a band round him, in the center is a punch-pot on a pedestal with a human face, to the left of the punch-pot is a cone shape representing sugar--with legs and a human face. In front of this, we see a lemon with legs and a human face. There are two glasses lying on the floor in front.  This clever visual pun is meant to put one in mind of writers for the famed magazine, but it is, in fact, contributors to the drink called punch.

This was made in Germany in the late 19th century of porcelain painted with enamels.

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