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 to his wife and then to Scipione. In 1919, following the Russian Revolution, the circus became the property of the state and Scipione left Russia.

Last updated: February 26, 2014