Robert Riggs, Clown Alley

Robert Riggs: Clown Alley (c. 1937) lithograph on heavy woven paper
Clown Alley
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 3/8"

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.

Clown Alley, or the clown’s dressing room, depicts a line of water buckets, costume trunks, and performers in various stages of undress and leisure. The entertainers read, play cards, put on makeup, and wash their feet. Riggs found the routines of clowns offstage as interesting as their performances.

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