Friday, April 4, 2014

Print of the Day: The National Punch and Judy Show, 1882

The National Punch & Judy Show
From "Truth," December, 1882
The Victoria & Albert Museum

From the George Speaight Punch & Judy Archive at the V&A, we see a double-sided cutting from the periodical “Truth.” In fact, it’s the “Christmas Number,” which was entitled “The National Punch and Judy Show.” The magazine was published on December 25, 1882.

Both sides of the cutting depict illustrations which are intended to “reproduce a series of the incidents which figured in the scenes profuse” of a Punch and Judy Show which the publication states was prepared at the wish of (Prime Minister) Mr. Gladstone.

The scenes feature caricatures of various contemporary political figures in the role of Punch, including Mr. William Gladstone himself. It uses these satirical scenes to comment on issues of the day such as the demand for Irish Home Rule, the fight for Civic Reform, the consequences of the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, and the negotiations between the Russian Count Schouvaloff and the Marquis of Salisbury (then Conservative leader in the House of Lords and previously Foreign Secretary). Many political figures are depicted including: William Gladstone (1809-1898), the Marquis of Salisbury, Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, (1830 -1903) and Sir Stafford H. Northcote (1818 -1887).

A short verse accompanies each illustration, referring to the events depicted, and written in a form which parodies the style of operetta which was famously popularized by Gilbert and Sullivan. 

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