Tag Archives: circus ceramics

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.




 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




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





 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






 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




 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





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)





 Circus in France painting by Frederick Arthur Bridgman





Noritake Porcelain Art Deco Lustre Trinket Dish Ashtray pierrette Clown Figurine

 Noritake Porcelain Art Deco Lustre Trinket Dish Ashtray pierrette Clown Figurine





 California Pottery lidded clown jar





 Franklin Moody – Circus Aerialists





 Circus Strongman -etsy





 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



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


 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?




Ceramic tile ‘Circus’ – Polia Pillin



Its circus time by Sandra Oropeza

Ceramic statue  ‘Its circus time’  by Sandra Oropeza





Art Deco ‘Flame Leaper’ – Johann Philipp Ferdinand Preiss



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

Ringling Bros. Circus – Nina Leen




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 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





 Porcelain pierrot candy bowl





 Movie “Water For Elephants” – Fox



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

 Painted terracotta “Clowns on Unicycles,”  Waylande Gregory

circa 1932





Trapeze Photo – Gaston Paris

Roger Viollet




Circus clowns




elephantgirl - female circus performer sitting on an elephants knee




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