66 results in English
To Modest Ment͡synsʹkyĭ from Prisoners of the Wetzlar Camp
This publication, dedicated to the opera tenor Modest Omeli͡anovych Ment͡synsʹkyĭ (1875–1935), was produced by the prisoners from the Wetzlar camp for whom Ment͡synsʹkyĭ gave a performance in February 1916. It contains essays and poems dedicated to Ment͡synsʹkyĭ as well as the program of his performance and the lyrics of the songs he sang, which included poems by Taras Shevchenko and Ivan Franko. During World War I, more than a million Russian army soldiers were taken prisoner, of whom several hundred thousand were ethnic Ukrainians. The ...
Theatrical Design
Francisco Rizi was a painter of Italian descent who trained in the workshop of Vicente Carducho. In 1637 he began to work for King Philip IV of Spain, who appointed him the royal painter in 1656. His most productive period coincided with the reign of Philip, for whom he worked both on decorations of a mythological character for the Alcázar de Toledo and on the design and construction of theater sets from 1657 on. This drawing probably was made for a theatrical presentation at the Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid. It ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
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 ...
Ringling Bros. Lion Tableau Wagon
Parades to celebrate the arrival of the circus to town in America featured highly decorated wagons carrying the circus band and artists along main thoroughfares to the big top circus tent, attracting patrons along the way. This “Lion Tableau” wagon was built by Sebastian Wagon Works of New York City in approximately 1880 for the Adam Forepaugh Circus.  A telescoping platform holding the figure of Saint George fighting a dragon was removed around 1889 and the lower portion was converted into a bandwagon. The wagon was purchased by the Ringling ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
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
Folk Festival at Kurban Bayram in Tashkent. Pastimes at the Tea Stand
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
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 ...
William “Buffalo Bill” Cody
William Fredrick “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846–1917) was at different times a trapper, miner, Pony Express rider, scout, wagon master, stagecoach driver, legislator, and Civil War soldier. He earned his nickname, Buffalo Bill, because of his skill in supplying the Kansas Pacific Railroad with buffalo meat for its workers; in 18 months, he killed more than 4,000 buffalos. In 1883, he started the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Omaha, Nebraska, using cowboys and Native Americans to portray scenes from the West. The show recreated daring rescues, heroic ...
Ringling Circus Winter Quarters, Sarasota, Florida
John Ringling (1866–1936), one of the seven Ringling brothers who dominated the development of the American circus in the late 19th and early 20th century, moved the winter quarters of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from its original quarters in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Sarasota, Florida. Ringling’s vision, as recalled by Fred Bradna, equestrian director for the show, in his book The Big Top, was to “lay out the quarters like a zoo, and thousands of visitors will pay to see it. I’ll build an open-air ...
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
Peter the Tramp
Luffar-Petter (Peter the tramp), a silent film made in Sweden in 1922, was the first film in which the Swedish-born actress Greta Garbo (1905–90) appeared. Still known by her original name of Greta Lovisa Gustafsson, Garbo was at the time a simple, unknown actress still learning her craft. This short comedy was the starting point from which Garbo was launched on a path to major roles in Swedish and Hollywood films and to stardom. Presented here is the film poster for Luffar-Petter, which was created some seven years after ...
Akogi
Noh is a classical Japanese performance art that developed into its present form during the 14th and 15th centuries under the patronage of the shogunate. It became one of the favorite pastimes of the ruling class in Japan. Noh drama consists of dance and music. An utai-bon (book of lyrics) was made for each song in the drama. Noh was most popular during the 17th century, so many utai-bon, or Noh libretti, were published at that time. Shown here is a part of an utai-bon of Kanze-ryū style, one of ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Tsukishima
Tsukishima is a Kōwaka-mai (dance drama) ballad that dates from the Muromachi period (1336−1573). It is also called Hyōgo or Hyōgo tsukishima. The literal meaning of “tsukishima” is "making an island," and the ballad is based on an episode in which Taira no Kiyomori (1118−81), a general and noble, built a new port in Fukuhara, Hyōgo. The story starts with Kiyomori's decision to build the port. To ensure the success of the construction, 30 people are captured in order to be made human sacrifices to the gods ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
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 ...
The Cookhouse Tent and Steam Wagon from Buffalo Bill's Wild West, 1913
Every aspect of circuses and shows such as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was of interest to spectators in the towns and cities visited by these traveling spectacles. In this image dating from 1913, local townspeople gather to watch the cookhouse staff of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show prepare a meal outside the cookhouse tent. The steam wagon and cookhouse tent can be seen, along with the backs of the spectators, who include both men and women. The picture was taken by G. Herbert Whitney, an amateur photographer from ...
Contributed by Circus World Museum
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 ...
Rules of Conduct for the Ciniselli Circus
This placard contains the rules of conduct for the Ciniselli Circus in Saint Petersburg set by the management. Issued on January 10, 1891, the rules were published in two languages: French and German. The choice of languages, combined with circus programs of the period, demonstrates that nearly all the performers in the circus came from abroad. The 18 points regulated the lives of circus personnel. Performers and staff were required to attend all rehearsals and to take care of their equipment and costumes; everyone was required to be ready at ...
Ciniselli Circus
The Ciniselli Circus (now the Bolshoi Saint Petersburg State Circus) opened on December 26, 1877. The first stone structure in Russia purpose-built for the circus, it was regarded by many as the most beautiful circus building in Europe. The building was designed by architect Vasily Kenel (1834–93), who also produced this watercolor, which has his signature in the lower right-hand corner. The building was a unique engineering structure for its time, designed and built on the basis of the state-of-the-art engineering principles and methods. For the first time, inner ...
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 ...