Circus performance in arts

 

 

Circus Sculpture Originals---Harlequin by Emin Guliyev

Harlequin by Emin Guliyev

 

The circus through the ages

 

Around 500BC, the first Etruscan king of Rome introduced games from Etruria into the Roman Republic at an open air venue called the Circus Maximus (Great Circus), which eventually had a seated capacity for approximately 150,000 spectators. These organized spectacles for the masses included chariot racing, gladiators and sports events. It is recorded that in the 2nd century BC, dancers, scenic artists and flute players were featured along with the use of over 100 wild animals including leopards, elephants and bears in venatio productions. (animal hunting) This circus was U shaped, and similar ones were constructed throughout Europe, (the Hippodrome in Constantinople), for chariot racing and other events.
The modern circus, as we know today, was first conceived in 1768 in London, by Philip Astley, where equestrian feats and bareback acrobatics were performed in a wooden amphitheater featuring a circular arena. The circus ring was used because it allowed audiences to keep sight of the riders during their performances and riding in circles made it possible, through the generation of centrifugal force, for riders to keep their balance while performing their tricks. By 1770, acrobats, rope-dancers, and jugglers were also added to the show and eventually exotic animals were introduced. Astley opened the first circus in Paris, the Amphithéâtre Anglois, in 1782.
In 1793, British equestrian John Bill Ricketts opened the first circus in the United States, in Philadelphia, while Charles Hughes, a former member of Astleys company, performed in the court of Catherine the Great in St. Petersburg, Russia.

 

 

Tiffany and Co. Girl riding a circus horse Sliver and enamel

Girl on a circus horse – Tiifany & Co , NY

 

In 1825 in America, Joshuah Purdy Brown became the first circus entrepreneur to replace the usual wooden construction with a full canvas tent, to allow more mobility and penetration into the rapidly developing new cities in the USA. Circus entrepreneurs Phineas Barnum and William Coup were the first to use rail for transporting their circus, along with the multiple ring circus tent, to increase the capacity. They also introduced the sideshow with more freakish acts and museum oddities.
The circus developed into essentially a visual performing art which was unfettered by language barriers. As a result, it was easily exportable to countries and in 1853 Italian Giuseppe Chiarini took his circus on a world tour. Likewise, the French equestrian Louis Soullier, took his Vienna Circus on a tour of the Balkans and Turkey, then want on to China, where he introduced the circus in 1854. On his return to Europe in 1866, he brought with him Chinese acrobats, who in turn introduced traditional Chinese acts such as perch-pole balancing, diabolo-juggling, plate-spinning and hoop-diving to Western audiences.
The striking visual elements of the circus acts have provided a rich tapestry for interpretation in the arts and most of the details and action from this colorful tradition have been vividly reproduced.

 

 

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 Porcelain circus clown – ebay

 

 

 

Ceramic plate "Elephants – The Wonder of the Circus" - Artist Franklin Moody for Porcelaine Ariel

 “Elephants – The Wonder of the Circus” – Artist Franklin Moody for Porcelaine Ariel

1981

 

 

Gabor-Jeno-(1893-1968)-Acrobats Male circus acrobats in red costumes

Gabor Jeno (1893-1968) ‘Acrobats’, 1933

 

 

Ceramic plate - " Clowns - The Heart of the Circus" - Artist Franklin Moody for Porcelaine Ariel

 ” Clowns – The Heart of the Circus” – Artist Franklin Moody for Porcelaine Ariel

1981

 

 

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 Circus sideshow art

 

 

 

Sparks circus clown 1923

 Clown waltz

 

 

 

Tiffany clown juggler

 Silver juggling clown figurine – Tiffany

 

 

Tiffany-co Clown and horse Figurine

 Clown and horse figurine – Tiffany & Co

 

 

 

Vintage Goebel art deco bottle decanter clown-1930s-collectibles-barware-crown

 Art Deco Clown Decanter –  Goebel

1930’s

 

 

 

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 Sideshow spruiker – Circus Chimera

Photographer Norma I. Quintana from the book Circus: A Traveling Life

 

 

 

Leaping lioness-Lennon bros circus

 A leaping lioness with Warren Lennon

Lennon Bros Circus ( est. 1893 ) is one of only two circuses left in Australia with big cats in the program. The three lions at Lennon’s are now 9 years of age: two females and one male from different litters. They were born and bred in the circus, and are the 12th generation born and bred in Australia.

 

 

 

poster for Barnum and Bailey circus - Greatest Show On Earth

 Barnum & Bailey poster

 

 

 

midget clowns

 Vintage midget clown photo

 

 

 

Chinese National Circus acrobats on momcycles

Acrobats at the Chinese National Circus

 

 

 

ANNA CULLITON circus vase

Circus Scenes Vase – Anna Culliton from the series ” Miss Molly’s Ceramic Circus “

glazed earthenware – 2010

 

 

 

Balancing Tiger Tiffany

 Circus Tiger Balancing on a Ball – Tiffany & Co

 

 

 

Andree-Richmond dog standing on horseback

 Circus dog riding horse – Andree Richmond

 

 

 

Anna Plonka two clowns on a horse

 Circus clowns on horse –  Anna Plonka

 

 

Art-deco-Lenci-Italian-porcelain-clown-figurine

 Italian Art Deco circus clown – Lenci

 

 

 

Poster Festival Du Cirque 37th

 37th Monte Carlo circus festival poster

 

 

 

athlete-on-the-cube Larisa Churkina

Larisa Churkina – Strongman and acrobat sculpture

 

 

 

AuntHattiesAttic

French style circus figurines

AuntHattiesAttic – etsy

 

 marc-chargill circus art

Marc Chagall – le cirque bleu

 

 

 

Bing & Grondahl-(B&G)-PIERROT CLOWN Porcelain Figurines

PIERROT Clown Porcelain Figurines –  Bing & Grondahl (B&G)

 

 

 

Bridgman-American-Circus-in-France-1869-1870

 Circus in France painting by Frederick Arthur Bridgman

1869-1870

 

 

 

Noritake Porcelain Art Deco Lustre Trinket Dish Ashtray pierrette Clown Figurine

 Noritake Porcelain Art Deco Lustre Trinket Dish Ashtray pierrette Clown Figurine

 

 

 

California-Pottery--

 California Pottery lidded clown jar

 

 

 

Circus-Plate-Aerialists-3rd-issue-from-Series--The-Greatest-Show-on-Earth-1981

 Franklin Moody – Circus Aerialists

 

 

 

Circus-strongman-sculpture-etsy

 Circus Strongman -etsy

 

 

 

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 Circus Clown on a Horse – Ann Plonka

 

 

Contortion girl circus sculpture by Maria-Paterson

 Circus contortion girl sculpture –  Maria-Paterson

 

 

 

Abstract -vessels of Michael Kay

 Vase decorated with circus performers – Micheal Kay

 

 

 

Young girl standing on a horse

Circus training at a young age

 

 The circus,-1964-Marc Chagall

‘The Circus’, Marc Chagall

1964

 

Female circus acrobat with elephant

 Circus acrobat on elephant trunk

 

 

 

Figurine of a clown playing a squeezebox-Matt Prince

Figurine of a clown playing a squeezebox-Matt Prince

 

 

 

French-PIERROT-CLOWN-FIGURINE-STATUE-ORNAMENT

 French pierrot clown figurine

 

 Balancing Act,-1962.-,-Harry-Ransom-Center-A seal puts on a show by balancing a doll before young viewers-at-a-performance-of-the-Krone-Circus-in-Aachen,-Germany

Balancing Act, 1962, Harry Ransom Center – Vintage photo of a seal balancing a doll

Krone Circus in Aachen, Germany

 

 

Tuba trunk elephant

 Elephant with a tuba trunk figurine

Waylande Gregory?

 

 

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Ceramic tile ‘Circus’ – Polia Pillin

 

 

Its circus time by Sandra Oropeza

Ceramic statue  ‘Its circus time’  by Sandra Oropeza

 

 

 

JOHANN-PHILIPP-FERDINAND-PREISS Flame Leaper

Art Deco ‘Flame Leaper’ – Johann Philipp Ferdinand Preiss

 

 

Ringling-Brothers-acorbats-by-Nina-Leen for LIFE magazine 1949

Ringling Bros. Circus – Nina Leen

1949

 

 

Josef Lorenzl-(Austrian,-1892-1950)-Bronze Jester

 Bronze Jester – Josef Lorenz

 

 

 

Limoges Hand Painted Box, Clown on the Moon

‘Clown on the Moon’ –  Limoges Hand Painted Box,

 

 

 

Lladró porcelain figurines

 Porcelain clown bust – Lladro

 

 

 

Sculptural-vase-Michael Kay

 Girl riding a horse – Michael Kay

 

 

 

Paul Rice--circus elephant Bronx,-New-York, 1963

   Ringling Brothers circus elephant descending from the carriage of a train on the railway in the Bronx, in New York, April 1, 1963.

AP photo – Paul Rice

 

 

 

Porcelain-figurines-from-the-series-‘Clowns’-by-sculptor-Sergey-Orlov

 Porcelain figurine from Sergey Orlov sculpture

 

 

 

Stangl Pottery-(Trenton,-New-Jersey)creamer

 Ceramic creamer – Strangl Pottery

 

 

 

Tiffany and Co-NY-Silver and enamel

 Circus acrobats from Tiffany & Co , NY

 

 

 

Vintage-Sigma-Taste-Setter-Pierrot-Collectible-Candy-bowl

 Porcelain pierrot candy bowl

 

 

 

water-for-elephants---Fox

 Movie “Water For Elephants” – Fox

 

 

Waylande Gregory,-“Clowns on Unicycles,”-circa-1932,-painted terracotta

 Painted terracotta “Clowns on Unicycles,”  Waylande Gregory

circa 1932

 

 

 

Roger-Viollet---Photo-Agency-since-1938

Trapeze Photo – Gaston Paris

Roger Viollet

 

 

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Circus clowns

 

 

 

elephantgirl - female circus performer sitting on an elephants knee

Elephantgirl

 
 
 
 
 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Nice article, thanks. The Chinese also had a tradition of ceramic tomb figures – musicians and acrobats – being buried with emperors.

  2. Roger D Leighton
    Posted September 12, 2015 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    love love all the art fabulouse

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