Robert Riggs, Clown Acrobats

Robert Riggs: Clown Acrobats (c. 1937) lithograph on heavy woven paper
Clown Acrobats
c. 1937
lithograph on heavy woven paper
Credit Line
Gift of Clare W. Gargalli and Robert B. Waterhouse in memory of Dr. Robert B. Waterhouse
14 3/8" x 19 1/8"

An avid circusgoer from a young age, Robert Riggs began making lithographs of the performances in 1933. When Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus traveled to Philadelphia, the artist went twice a day to sketch members of the troupe onstage and off, befriending many of them. His prints portray recognizable circus characters.

In this print, clown acrobats confidently stride and swing from ropes. The performers belonged to a troupe under the direction of Walter Guice, and they performed with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey from 1931 to 1938. Riggs made several sketches of the rigging and costumes of the clowns in preparation for this lithograph. The print exemplifies his facility with subtle gradations.

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