Harlequin puppet (Punch and Judy, c.1840)

From The Brighton Toy and Model Index

Harlequin puppet (Punch and Judy, c.1840)

BTMM map 081.gif
Arch One , Area 81
Brighton Beach (display)
Glamour of Brighton

Harlequin puppet in Commedia Dell’Arte Mask, circa 1840

Punch and Judy shows originally had Harlequin and the Devil as characters. The Devil was replaced by the Crocodile.


Harlequin appeared primarily in Commedia dell'arte which then lead to the Harlequinade. The character is frequently a servant and the love interest of Columbine. Different variants of the character show him as both incredibly slow witted or extremely clever. The one constant is his acrobatic ability and quick movement. The character tends to cartwheel, flip or perform other acrobatic feats instead of simple movement.

In the Harlequinade which tended to be a play within a play during pantomimes the character becomes a magician who uses his slapstick to perform magic tricks and is the primary force of beginning the story by transforming characters from those appearing in the pantomime segment in the stock characters of the Harlequinade.