Graphic Arts / Contextual Studies Essay: 'punch And Judy' Hand Puppet

1372 words - 5 pages

The object I have chosen for this essay is a 'Punch' style hand puppet which I found at the Museum of Liverpool Life at the Albert Dock.Probably the most famous form of puppets in the world, Punch, Judy and a host of other hand puppet characters have been enjoyed by children across the globe for centuries.My aim is to consider the history behind the design and aesthetic qualities of this particular object while exploring the use of this form of entertainment and reflecting on this characters place within modern culture.The dress of the puppet is recognisable as traditional clothing of renaissance Italy. This can be explained looking into the history of this form of puppet. Punch and Judy originated in Italy during the 14th centuries and only later spread to France and other neighbouring countries. The 'Commedia dell'arte' was an improvised popular comedy in Italian theatres of the 16th to 18th century. It was frequently banned and was often performed on the streets. The characters Harlequin, Columbine and Pulcinella originated here. In the French language Pulcinella became Polichinelle, in Russian Petroushka, and in English Punch. (Byrom, Michael 1972) The shows were imported from France to England where they received widespread popularity. Punch and Judy first appeared in England during the 17th century. Cromwell's Commonwealth looked on entertainment as sinful and closed the theaters. With the return of the Stuarts and Charles II, entertainments of all sorts returned in fashion to the great pleasure of the people. [College] An early reference to Punch and Judy shows in England was an entry in Samuel Pepys celebrated diary. The first such entry was on May 9, 1662. He wrote that he was 'mighty pleased' by an Italian puppet show near St. Paul's Church in London's Covent Garden. Punch and Judy at this time were not specifically for children, but were adult entertainment. The original Punch and Judy were marionettes, manipulated by strings (Leach, Robert 1985) which required a much more elaborate set up. Punch and Judy were continually popular entertainment throughout the 18th century.The punch puppet I chose is a short, thick set, hump-backed puppet with an enormous hook nose, a wide mouth, a long chin, and wearing a three-pointed cap. The piece would have been carved from wood and hand painted using traditional techniques. The puppet is intentionally painted in a simplistic way which gives the character a cartoon like persona which particularly appeals to children. The facial features of the character are exaggerated with wide eyes and bright rosy cheeks boldly painted onto the face. One person would carry out the design and production of this piece carefully crafting out their own character then applying the paintwork and dress using simple fabrics. (Byrom, Michael 1972) Punch is traditionally accompanied by his wife Judy and their dog Toby. The play is a comedic farce consisting mainly of a series of violent quarrels between the squeaky-voiced...

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