48 results in English
Group of Circus Performers
This December 1932 photograph shows the members of three world-famous trapeze acts posing in the safety net at La Scala in Berlin: The Flying Codonas of Mexico, The Flying Concellos of the United States, and Les Amadori of Italy. Shown from left to right are Genesio Amadori (Les Amadori), Art Concello (The Flying Concellos), Alfredo Codona (The Flying Codonas), Vera (Bruce) Codona (The Flying Codonas), Antoinette Concello (The Flying Concellos), Ginevra Amadori (Les Amadori), Everett White (The Flying Concellos), Lalo Codona (The Flying Codonas), and Goffreddo Amadori (Les Amadori). The ...
Letter from Otto Ringling, October 26, 1907
Otto Ringling (1858–1911) was the son of a German immigrant who, with his brothers Albert, Alfred, Charles, John, August, and Henry, created the Ringling Bros. circus empire in the late 19th century. The brothers bought the competing Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907. They ran the circuses separately at first, but merged them in 1919 to create the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which came to be known as “the Greatest Show on Earth.” This letter, written by Otto to his brothers in October 1907, details how the assets ...
Circus Spectacle Float
This photograph depicts an elaborate spectacle float in the “backyard” of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in September 1922. The spectacle, or “spec,” often opened the show and was a procession that took place around the hippodrome track inside the big top, or circus tent, featuring as many of the performers and animals as the circus director was able to costume. Traced back to the earliest circuses in America, the spec was originally a lavish performance of literary or historical tales intended to entertain and edify the audience ...
John Robinson's Circus
This 1929 photograph shows the interior of John Robinson's Circus during a spectacle, or “spec,” performance of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba in Cincinnati, Ohio. In the American circus, the spec developed as a procession that took place around the hippodrome track inside the big top, or circus tent, featuring as many of the performers and animals as the circus director was able to costume. John Robinson’s Circus was especially known for its dazzling productions of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, which offered a ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
Back Door Scene at the American Circus
In the American circus, the area directly behind the circus tent or arena where performers prepared for and staged their entrances through the “back door” came to be known as the “backyard.” This glass-plate negative from 1928 reveals a typical backyard scene of an American circus just prior to performance of the spectacular production number. The spectacle, or “spec,” was a procession that took place around the hippodrome track inside the big top, or circus tent, featuring as many of the performers and animals as the circus director was able ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
Circus Midway Scene
This 1935 photograph shows a crowd gathering on the midway of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, heading towards the entrance marquee tent. On the left is the painted banner line depicting freaks and attractions in the sideshow, an added fee attraction operating before the main show. On the right can be seen concession tents and ticket wagons. Visible behind the marquee entrance is the “free” menagerie tent consisting of the exhibition of exotic caged animals, elephants, and other lead stock. By the 1930s, the midway had become an important part of the ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
Cole Bros. Circus
This 1935 image presents a scene from a typical moderate-sized 20th-century American circus. A crowd watches as baggage wagons from the Cole Bros. Circus are being pulled over flatcars. The railcars are marked Clyde Beatty and Allen King, who were two of the more notable animal trainers of the period. Behind the flatcars are stock cars that held elephants and baggage horses. This scene was repeated daily, morning and night, in railroad yards in communities across the United States. Cole Bros. Circus was established in 1884 by William Washington Cole ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
Free Street Parade of the Sells-Floto Circus
This colorful lithograph advertises the upcoming street parade of the Sells-Floto Circus, promoting ticket sales to the local residents for the twice-a-day shows. The artwork captures the grandeur of the American circus parade in the 1920s. The parade is led by a rider wearing an 18th-century costume and carrying a circus banner. Behind the rider is a group of mounted horsemen, elephants in costumes worn in big production number during the show (“spec costuming”), a band, and a number of circus wagons. Several of the elephants and wagons promote the ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
Pastimes of Central Asians. A Comical Presentation of an Indian Dance, Involving a Hindu Masquerader
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Pastimes of Central Asians. Two Male Actors with Painted Faces and Artificial Beards Playing a Board Game
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Pastimes of Central Asians. Three Men, Including Two Maskhara-bāzūs, or Entertainers, with Painted Faces and Artificial Beards
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Pastimes of Central Asians. Two Maskhara-bāzūs, or Entertainers Masquerading as Hindus
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Pastimes of Central Asians. A Maskhara-bāz, or Entertainer, Making Fun of a Cleric
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Pastimes of Central Asians. Group of Male Musicians Posing with Several Batchas, or Dancing Boys
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Pastimes of Central Asians. Group of Male Musicians Posing with Several Batchas, or Dancing Boys
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Pastimes of Central Asians. A Group of Female Performers, Possibly Uzbek, Kneeling on a Rug
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Pastimes of Central Asians. Dance of the Indians
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Scenes at the Samarkand Square, or the Registan, and Its Market Types. Juggler at the Square of the Tillia Kari Madrasah
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Syr Darya Oblast. City of Tashkent and the Types of People Seen on Its Streets. A Dervish Playing an Instrument
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Troupe of Musicians. A Batcha, or Dancing Boy
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Troupe of Musicians. A Maskhara-bāz, or Entertainer, Holding a Dayra, a Kind of Frame Drum
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Troupe of Musicians. A Maskhara-bāz, or Entertainer
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Troupe of Musicians, Including Players of the Tas and the Kairak, a Hand Percussion Instrument
This photograph is from the ethnographical part of Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The principal compiler was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. The album contains some ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Turkestan Album, Ethnographic Part
In the mid-to-late 19th century, the Russian Empire expanded into Central Asia, annexing territories located in present-day Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Tsar Alexander II approved the establishment of the governor-generalship of Russian Turkestan in 1867. General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general, commissioned the Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of the region that includes some 1,200 photographs, along with architectural plans, watercolor drawings, and maps. The work is in four parts, spanning six large, leather-bound volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Pay Off of Spec—the Good Old Times
In the American circus, the spectacle, or “spec,” developed as a procession that took place around the hippodrome track inside the big top, or circus tent, featuring as many of the performers and animals as the circus director was able to costume. Traced back to the earliest circuses in America, the spec was originally a lavish performance of literary or historical tales intended to entertain and edify the audience. The costumes created for specs were often exotic, representing cultures from all corners of the globe. The costumes also could be ...
Theatrical Group, Kandahar
This photograph of a theatrical group is from an album of rare historical photographs depicting people and places associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The members of the group are dressed up in different comic costumes. A man on the far left side of the portrait is pantomiming a mother holding a rather unhealthy looking “child.” Other soldiers are dressed as Afghan tribesmen, Sikhs, beggars, jesters, and a vendor of “Camel hot pies.” The Second Anglo-Afghan War began in November 1878 when Great Britain, fearful of what it saw as ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Portrait and Sketch of Alessandro Guerra
This portrait of Alessandro Guerra (1790−1862) was produced by Vincent (also called Vincenzo) Gozzini and engraved by Giovanni Paolo Lasinio around 1830, the period in which Guerra (dubbed "Il furioso" for his daring style of acrobatics on horseback) was at the height of his performing success. The rhymed couplet at the bottom of the illustration refers to Guerra’s skill and his worldwide fame. A direct rival of the famous English equestrian acrobat Andrew Ducrow, Guerra was one of the most significant artists of the circus in the early ...
Edict Prohibiting Traveling Shows Throughout Tuscany
This edict, dated February 1, 1780, was promulgated by Domenico Brichieri Colombi, fiscal auditor of the city of Florence, in execution of orders issued by Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany (reigned 1765−90). It prohibited public performances by traveling entertainers so as not to give to the people “opportunities to dissipate themselves vainly.” The edict applied to “Charlatans, Cantimbanchi [street singers], Storytellers, Puppeteers, Peddlers, Jugglers, and all those who carry on freak shows, exhibit Machines, Animals, or who sell secrets, and to any other foreigner who goes ...
Grand Extraordinary Surprising Spectacle
This poster, dated 1835 and printed by the firm of Andreola in Treviso, Italy, advertises a show by the Acrobatic, Athletic, and Olympic Company, one of the last touring companies that performed in theaters in what was known as an acrobatic “cultured” repertoire show. Such shows combined dance and pantomime, with artists playing specific roles. Popular throughout the 18th century, the shows were no longer in vogue by this period.  Over time, the acrobatic artists, such as Pietro Bono, the tightrope walker featured in this poster, were incorporated into the ...
Sells-Floto Circus, 1924
This photograph of 1924 shows a group of female circus performers climbing onto tableau wagon number 83 of the Sells-Floto Circus, possibly in preparation for a parade. A large draft horse is hitched to the wagon. A baggage wagon with the Sells-Floto name can be seen in the background. The Sells-Floto Circus was formed in the early 1900s from a combination of the Floto Dog & Pony Show and the Sells Brothers Circus. It toured the United States as an independent circus until 1921, when it was incorporated into the American ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
Sells-Floto Circus, 1922
Elephants were not only an important part of the performance of a circus but were also very useful for providing heavy labor on the back lot. This image of 1922 shows an elephant of the Sells-Floto Circus pulling the canvas-covered cage wagon number 24 into position. Octagon cage wagon number 34 can be seen at right. The Sells-Floto Circus was formed in the early 1900s from a combination of the Floto Dog & Pony Show and the Sells Brothers Circus. It toured the United States as an independent circus until 1921 ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
Ringling Bros. World’s Greatest Shows
This colorful lithograph advertising the Ringling Bros. Circus was printed by the Strobridge Lithographing Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, and New York, a significant producer of circus posters. The poster depicts the immense size of a large American circus in the early part of the 20th century and is an example of the colorful, eye-catching advertisements commonly used by circuses to attract crowds. The texts at the bottom proclaim “A Magic Moving City of Tents, The Home of Many Marvels, Largest Show Ever Perfected. A Really Great World’s Exposition,” and ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
Erecting the Big Top, Cole Bros. Circus, 1937
This image from the 1930s shows the Cole Bros. Circus setting the side poles in preparation for erecting the big top tent, a scene that was common at every American circus at that time. In the background can be seen another tent, already set up. Alternating United States and Cole Bros. flags are flying at the top of the six center poles. Cole Bros. Circus was established in 1884 by William Washington Cole (1847–1915) as “W.W. Cole’s New Colossal Shows.” In the 1930s, when this photograph was ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
Russell Bros. Circus, 1932
This photograph is an aerial view of the circus lot of the Russell Bros. Circus at Janesville, Wisconsin, in 1932. The availability of trucks following World War I led to a rapid growth of the trucking industry in the United States. Circuses quickly adapted to the new technology by creating "truck shows" or circuses that traveled overland via truck. Truck shows brought the circus to smaller towns across the country previously inaccessible by rail. This image shows a typical medium-sized truck show of the mid-20th century. The sideshow tent and ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
Garland Entry, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1930
This photograph shows horses and riders of the "Fete of Garlands" or "Garland Entry" assembling in the back yard of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus before going into the big top tent. Various tents and baggage wagons can be seen in the background. The image is a good example of the size and complexity of a “spec” performance in a large American circus. The spectacle, or “spec,” developed as a procession that took place around the hippodrome track inside the big top, or circus tent, featuring as many ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
December 26 Program of the Ciniselli Circus
This one-page document is the very first program of the well-known Ciniselli Circus (now the Bolshoi Saint Petersburg State Circus) for a performance that took place on Monday, December 26, 1877. Four acts were by members of Ciniselli family. Nearly all other acts were by famous performers from abroad, for example, German equestrienne Oceana Renz and the Italian clown Tanti. Following a musical opening, the circus featured a total of 15 acts, with a ten-minute intermission. The acts included horses, clowns, gymnastics, and music. The Ciniselli Circus was founded in ...
Gaetano Ciniselli
Italian-born Gaetano Ciniselli (1815−81) was the head of a large circus family, a circus equestrian, and a horse trainer who was taught by the famous French riding master François Baucher (1796−1873). He achieved fame throughout Europe and in 1877 founded and became director of the Ciniselli Circus in Saint Petersburg, which was housed in the first stone structure in Russia purpose-built for circus. He brought to the Saint Petersburg public all of the best performers and pantomimes of Europe. This portrait of Ciniselli was taken by Charles Bergamasco ...
Liberty Act by Gaetano Ciniselli
Italian-born Gaetano Ciniselli (1815−81) was a circus equestrian and horse trainer who in 1877 founded the Ciniselli Circus (now the Bolshoi Saint Petersburg State Circus). The circus was housed in the first stone structure in Russia purpose-built for circus. In this painting, Ciniselli is shown performing the liberty horse act, which was an invariable part of the circus program until his death in 1881. The term "liberty horse act" refers to an act in which the horses are directed with verbal commands and are not mounted or held by ...
Ciniselli Circus Water Pantomime
This poster by an unknown artist is devoted to the Ciniselli Circus water pantomime (probably The Four Elements). Produced in Berlin by the firm Dinse & Eckert, the picture is a colored lithograph with the letters written in gold. The water pantomime was performed for the first time in Russia in 1892. In The Four Elements, water rushed down in a cascade and fountains gushed out in different places of the arena. Deer, elephants, and horses with riders swam in the arena lake. Pantomime, an art form in which the story ...
Liberty Act by Scipione Ciniselli
This black and white lithograph of 1900 depicts Scipione Ciniselli, director of the Ciniselli Circus (now the Bolshoi Saint Petersburg State Circus), and his twelve liberty horses in the final act of the performance. The term "liberty horse act" refers to an act in which the horses are directed with verbal commands and are not mounted or held by reins; the horses are "at liberty." Scipione was the son of Gaetano Ciniselli, who founded the circus in 1877. Following Gaetano’s death in 1881, leadership of the circus passed first ...
Interior of the New Ciniselli Circus
This lithograph of 1878 shows the interior of the Ciniselli Circus (now the Bolshoi Saint Petersburg State Circus), which opened on December 26, 1877. The decor of the auditorium of the circus was luxurious. The crimson velvet of the armchairs was complemented by gold, mirrors, and crystal chandeliers. The dome was covered with canvas showing floral ornaments and equestrian scenes. The boxes and stalls could seat 1,500 people, but the auditorium was designed to accommodate up to 5,000 people by using the spacious standing gallery. The features of ...
Behind the Scenes of Typical Truck Circus, Downie Bros. Circus, 1932
This behind-the-scenes image is typical of a “truck show” in the American circus. With the growth of the trucking industry in the United States after World War I, many small circuses could easily mount their wagons and equipment on the back of trucks and travel across the country, reaching countless smaller communities previously inaccessible by circuses operating strictly from railroads. In this image, three women rest under a fly tent attached to the back of a painted truck of the Downie Bros. Circus. The circus was owned by Andrew Downie ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum