Robert Riggs, High-Wire Act

date unknown
Watercolor on heavy woven paper
Credit Line
Gift of Claire W. Gargalli and Robert B. Waterhouse in memory of Dr. Robert P. Waterhouse, 1983
23.5 x 30.375 in.

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.

While Riggs is mainly known for his prints of the circus, he also produced watercolors. In this painting, he portrays entertainers holding balance poles as they walk the tight wire. The scene is composed from below, so the performers loom above.

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