String puppets or marionettes have complete bodies and jointed limbs, with carved or moulded heads. They are usually operated by a single puppeteer who works from above. Early marionettes have one long wire attached to the head with a control at the top for the operator to grip. Consequently the puppet can do little more than jig about. Later marionettes have more cleverly jointed bodies with strings attached to all the moving parts. These are connected at the top to a control, generally made of wood, which is held horizontally or, sometimes, vertically. By lifting, lowering, twisting and turning the control, the operator can make the puppet move in a more life-like manner.
Marionettes were particularly popular in Venetian palaces and European courts in the 18th century. The aim of the puppeteers was to imitate ‘live’ theatre and they collaborated with good writers to produce plays likely to appeal to cultivated tastes. They developed a mannered and theatrical form of delivery and style of performance. The marionette theatres themselves were large and elaborate with scenery painted on wood and canvas.
This string puppet was made between 1950 and 1959 by the English company Pelham Puppets Ltd. It is a poodle and is made with real white rabbit fur. The puppet has all its strings attached to a single wooden control bar.