Forget Ancient Rome, often cited as the origin of circus entertainment. A certain Englishman, Philip Astley (1742 – 1814), who had been a sergeant major in the Cavalry, was responsible for the entertainment we know today. It was Astley who found that if he galloped in circles he could produce such a centrifugal force that it enabled him to perform extraordinary stunts upon the horse and thus outdo other trick riders of the day.
Astley performed in public for the first time on 9th January, 1768. He was so successful that he gathered other equestrians to him and, later, acrobats, musicians, tumblers, clowns, tightrope walkers and so forth. Ultimately, he covered the land on which he had formed his ‘ring’ in an area of London’s Waterloo to create Astley’s Amphitheatre. Circus was born, although the term would not be used until Charles Dibdin, in partnership with Charles Hughes, created the Royal Circus nearby in 1782. Astley went on to establish circuses throughout Britain and the rest of Europe.
To create Interval at the Circus, I found a vintage black and white image from DeviantArt to which I applied textures before painting various areas. I also added a couple of circus elements from The Graphics Fairy to the outdoor panels, one pane of the window above the door, and the ground beneath their feet.
“Damn everything but the circus!. . .The average ‘painter’ ‘sculptor’ ‘poet’ ‘composer’ ‘playwright’ is a person who cannot leap through a hoop from the back of a galloping horse, make people laugh with a clown’s mouth, orchestrate twenty lions.”
― E.E. Cummings
“The circus is a jealous wench. Indeed that is an understatement. She is a ravening hag who sucks your vitality as a vampire drinks blood – who kills the brightest stars in her crown and will allow no private life for those who serve her; wrecking their homes, ruining their bodies, and destroying the happiness of their loved ones by her insatiable demands. She is all of these things, and yet, I love her as I love nothing else on earth.”
― Henry Ringling North, The Circus Kings: Our Ringling Family Story
Take care and keep laughing!