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Reblogged to commemorate Grimaldi’s death on this day, 31st May, 1837. Click through to buy the greeting card or postcard and to get the joke!

Joseph Grimaldi, Clown 1778-1837 © First Night Design

Joseph Grimaldi, Clown 1778-1837 © First Night Design

A story is told that in 1806 a man goes to visit a doctor who is acclaimed for his ability to treat melancholia. “I can’t eat, I can’t sleep,” says the man. “I feel constantly miserable.  Please help me, doctor.”

“Laughter is the best medicine, my friend,” says the doctor. “Take yourself off to Covent Garden Theatre* where you will find The Great Grimaldi performing in Harlequin and Mother Goose; or the Golden Egg. It is exquisitely funny and will cure you of all your ills without…

via First Night Design | Joseph Grimaldi, Clown 1778–1837 | First Night Design

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All I can say is that I’m very glad I can earn even when I’m in hospital, as I was again just before Christmas. No, don’t ask — I’m too bored with answering!

I hope you’ve had a glorious festive Christmas and will have a splendid New Year!

Source: At the Circus Poster | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


What a fine Bank Holiday treat — I’ve sold 50 of these invitations!

Source: At the Circus Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I can think of nothing new or funny to say about no computer so here’s a clown I made earlier! When I’m up and running again, I promise to reply to your comments. I have been able to read some of your posts but the like button fails to load most of the time.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah x

First Night Design

Buy Clown in the Mirror © First Night Design on prints & postersBuy—Clown in the Mirror © First Night Design on prints & posters

I have filched a painting from my late mother and made it my own. Benedicta painted her clown in her teens — not that they were known as such an entity when she was growing up in the 1920s and ’30s. I say filched but I inherited it!

Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh

To create a different colour palette for him. I used several 2 Lil’ Owls textures from the Confetti series.

2-lil-owls-textures-confetti2-lil-owls-textures-confetti

To set the whole thing off, I used another 2 Lil’ Owls texture from the Distressed series for a background on which you can see the faint markings of a musical score.

2LO Distressed 52LO Distressed 5

My mother’s clown now looks as if he is checking himself in the mirror before going on stage, an effect that was coincidental but was pointed out to me by ‘him…

View original post 19 more words


I’m dreaming BIG, Mr De Mille!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I have filched a painting from my late mother and made it my own. Benedicta painted her clown in her teens — not that they were known as such an entity when she was growing up in the 1920s and ’30s. I say filched but I inherited it!

Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh

Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh

To create a different colour palette for him. I used several 2 Lil’ Owls textures from the Confetti series.

To set the whole thing off, I used another 2 Lil’ Owls texture from the Distressed series for a background on which you can see the faint markings of a musical score.

My mother’s clown now looks as if he is checking himself in the mirror before going on stage, an effect that was coincidental but was pointed out to me by ‘him indoors’, thus prompting the title.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

Related articles

A story is told that in 1806 a man goes to visit a doctor who is acclaimed for his ability to treat melancholia. “I can’t eat, I can’t sleep,” says the man. “I feel constantly miserable.  Please help me, doctor.”

“Laughter is the best medicine, my friend,” says the doctor. “Take yourself off to Covent Garden Theatre* where you will find The Great Grimaldi performing in Harlequin and Mother Goose; or the Golden Egg. It is exquisitely funny and will cure you of all your ills without any pills or potions from my cabinet.”

The man looks at the doctor for a moment.  “Ah,” he says. “That won’t help.”

“Why not, sir?”

The man shrugs. “I am Grimaldi.”

Grimaldi in 1819 by J.E.T. Robinson

Grimaldi in 1819 by J.E.T. Robinson

Apocryphal or no, I have little doubt the story’s origins go much further back. It would not surprise me if it was first told in Ancient Greece about an actor performing in one of Aristophanes’ comedies. It is a tale that has been attached to several comedians since, not least Dan Leno, whose depression was also legendary.

Joseph Grimaldi came from a line of Italian dancers and performers but was born and brought up in London. It is he we have to thank for the prominence of clowns in entertainment and for British pantomime existing in the form it does. A master craftsman when it came to performing in Commedia dell’Arte, an Italian style that became popular in the 16th century, Grimaldi’s antics in 19th-century Harlequinades transformed the clowning to such an extent that the clown ended up replacing the character of Harlequin.

The It’s Behind You site says this about his performance in the doctor-recommended Harlequin and Mother Goose:

The lack of great theatrical scenes allowed Grimaldi to project himself to the fore ‘he shone with unimpeded brilliance’ once critic wrote. Another marvelled at his performance ‘whether he robbed a pieman, opened an oyster, rode a giant carthorse, imitated a sweep, grasped a red-hot poker……. in all this he was extravagantly natural!’

Next time you go to a Christmas pantomime and sing along, think back to The Great Grimaldi for it was he whose comic songs were so popular that they became a permanent fixture in pantomime.  And if you’ve ever wondered why clowns are so often called Joey, think again of Grimaldi.

Grimaldi by John Cawse

Grimaldi by John Cawse

Andrew McConnell Stott, who has recently written a biography of Grimaldi — The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi: Laughter, Madness and the Story of Britain’s Greatest Comedian — writes:

The audience was in hysterics. Grimaldi had been their idol since he first came to prominence in 1806, having been thrust into the highest sphere of celebrity with a virtuoso comic performance in the original production of Mother Goose, a show that took record profits and ran for longer than any other pantomime in history. Its success brought him national recognition, enormous fees, and a social circle that included Lord Byron, Sarah Siddons, Edmund Kean, Matthew ‘Monk’ Lewis and the entire Kemble family. The critics Leigh Hunt and William Hazlitt sang his praises, the young Charles Dickens edited his Memoirs….”

Having retired in 1823 from ill-health and exhaustion — ‘I have overleaped myself’ — Grimaldi ran out of money in 1828, though he was then helped by a yearly pension of £100 from the Drury Lane Theatrical Fund, and various benefit performances were staged to help him.  He spent his remaining years in great pain from a body that he had pushed to the limit.

When he died in 1837, The London Illustrated News despaired that audiences would ever look upon his like again. It’s Behind You quotes from the periodical:

Grimaldi is dead and hath left no peer… We fear with him the spirit of pantomime has disappeared.

Joseph Grimaldi's grave

Joseph Grimaldi’s grave

Joseph Grimaldi is buried in the courtyard of St James’s Chapel in Pentonville and is commemorated every year on the first Sunday in February at the Holy Trinity Church in Dalston, The Clowns’ Church, with the Joseph Grimaldi Memorial Service. Since 1967, clowns have been able to attend the service wearing their costumes.

*Now The Royal Opera House

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

Related articles

I am delighted to report that my circus collage from 2011 is trending on Pinterest.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I have always adored the ephemera that attaches to the Circus.  I have never, mind you, enjoyed visits to the ring – in my childhood I found them boring or hated the way they treated the animals, and the slapstick never made me laugh – but give me an old ticket stub or the image of a clown and I’m yours for life!

This collage comprises a mixture of elements, some from my own collection (textured background and boy pierrot), a couple from The Graphics Fairy (lady on horse and cyclist) and a couple from Wikimedia (circus poster and aerialists).

At the Circus

As always, I love hearing from you and always appreciate your comments on my work.

Linking to Brag Monday at The Graphics Fairy.

Join me on Twitter or Facebook for news on when At the Circus is available to buy.

14 August 2012 update: Now available on my Zazzle store.

Take care and keep laughing.

Sarah

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