Friday, January 31, 2014

Mr. Punch in the Arts: “Pulcinella” by Jean-Ernest-Louis-Messionier

Jean-Ernest-Louis Messionier
Circa 1860

French Classicist painter and sculptor Jean-Ernest-Louis-Messionier was best known for his monumental scenes of battles, military figures and of Napoleon. However, he did the occasional genre painting and sometimes painted other artists.

This painting of Pulcinella shows one of Messionier’s rare non-military subjects. An actor is dressed in the guise of Italy’s “Pulcinella,” Mr. Punch’s ancestor. In a brightly-hued costume against a theatrical backdrop, the subject looks cheerfully out at the viewer, resting his hands upon his grotesque stomach.

Messionier seemed to have a fascination with the idea of “Pulcinella.” This theme appears also in some of the artist’s attempts to create engravings.

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