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SPIRIT of the CLOWN
STANLEY ROSEMAN
Biography: Page 4
"Paintings by Stanley Roseman glow with a shiny dignity"
- The New York Times
Keith Crary (detail), 1973,
as featured in The New York Times review
"Spirit of the Clown" and subtitled
"Paintings by Stanley Roseman glow with a shiny dignity"
Spirit of the Clown
Clown Alley
Empathy with his Models
     Roseman's work earned him great respect from the clowns, and his modesty and pleasant manner established lasting friendships in the closed and itinerant circus community.
2. Frosty Little, 1977
Oil on Strathmore paper, 73 x 58 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux
''These are clown portraits that look behind the makeup.''
- NBC Television News
At the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
    In ongoing correspondence with Roseman, the Director of Clowns writes when his portrait was acquired for the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, in 1984, to say that he is "so proud'' and to thank his friend "so much" for having painted "the beautiful, beautiful picture.''
- Frosty Little
3. Stanley Roseman drawing the memorable clowns Bruce Gutilla (left) and Dale Longmire,
in a backstage area at the
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus,
Madison Square Garden, New York City, 1977.
On the Road with the Circus
4. George, 1976
Oil on Strathmore paper, 73 x 58 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
"George arrived in perfect condition. It was truly exciting to open the package and a delight
 to finally see the portrait. We are thrilled to have the painting in our collection."

- Dr. Alexander Schouvaloff
 
Senior Curator
  Victoria and Albert Museum,
London
Painting by Stanley Roseman of the circus clown Keith Crary (detail), 1973, Collection of the artist. © Stanley Roseman
The New York Times published a superlative review "Spirit of the Clown" dedicated to Roseman's paintings created during sojourns with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The review begins:
    "Circus clowns are one of the glittering joys of all of our lives, whether we are young or old. Through their theatrical exaggerations, their madcap gestures and antics, their rubber acrobatics and their mimes, they create a magic world at once filled with captivating innocence as well as with the essence of which life is made. They can reach through our pretensions and postures, bare our masquerades through theirs and, all told, touch our souls.
    ''Clowns, I believe, must be as difficult to characterize in paintings as they are in words, for their art defies analytical conventions and descriptions. Although their skills remain firmly fixed in our minds, their interpretations have the gossamer evanescence of filigree. And yet Roseman has managed to catch the spirit of the clown. . . .''
- The New York Times
     Enamored of the circus and the clowns from his childhood, Roseman enthusiastically returned to the circus in his professional career with a cordial invitation from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. What began with a series of drawings of the celebrated clowns for three exciting weeks at Madison Square Garden, New York City, in the spring of 1973, became a major theme in Roseman's oeuvre and a critically acclaimed work on the subject of the clown.
Page 4  -  Spirit of the Clown
     The Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, conserves in its prestigious collection the superb portrait Frosty Little, 1977, (fig. 2). Roseman depicts the esteemed Director of Clowns in a quiet interlude between the busy backstage activity of preparing for a show and the heightened energy of a performance in the arena.
     A warm harmony of yellow ochre, orange, lilac, and sienna pervades the painting. Roseman's fluent brushstrokes defining the pictorial space and describing the circus clown's costume are complemented by the fine modeling of the facial features and the subtle tones of the clown's white-face makeup.
     The pyramidal composition of the painting is restated in the triangular leitmotif of the boat-like hat on the clown's "bald" head, the shapes of his collar and jacket, and the light-blue makeup that descends from the corner of his eyes onto his cheeks. The red on his lower lip and on the tip of his nose add bright accents to the beautiful painting.
     The New York Times cites Roseman's empathy with his models and praises the artist for his technical virtuosity: "Roseman's style is particularly congenial to the subject matter. His vigorous brushstrokes, bold compositions silhouetted against summary backgrounds and his prodigiously bright colors are consistent with the gaiety and fantasy we associate with circus clowns.''
     In its review The New York Times observes the humanism in Roseman's depictions of the circus clown, who "has chosen his profession and carries it out not only with artistry but with a shiny dignity. . . . But he is also described in those moments of introspection. . . ."
     The New York Times states that Roseman's skillful rendering with oil paint on canvas or paper "underscores the fragility of the clowns' impressions. One can sense that their mood might change instantaneously and remove us to another dream world.''
     The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, also known as ''The Greatest Show on Earth,'' traveled annually in those days on its own lengthy circus train and performed in three rings in amphitheaters throughout the United States. The Director of Clowns, Glen ''Frosty'' Little, corresponded with his new friend in the months following the circus' spring engagement in New York City. Encouraged by the clowns to join them on the road and to bring his painting materials, Roseman traveled in October of 1973 to Chicago, where the famous American circus played the Chicago Amphitheater.
     In a rare acceptance of a circus outsider, Roseman was given the unique privilege to draw and to paint portraits of the clowns in the private backstage area appropriated for the clowns' dressing room, called in circus terminology ''Clown Alley,'' a legendary place within the circus world. The Director of Clowns provided Roseman with his own place to set up his easel and canvases in Clown Alley, the first of such working spaces he was given in his sojourns with the circus over the years.
     The clowns offered Roseman their time in the intervals between their acts, during intermissions, and before and after the shows. Tommy Adams, whose friendly personality delighted circus audiences, was the first to model for the artist in Clown Alley. The young clown, wearing a red plaid shirt, brown hat, and beige trousers, stands with a pensive expression under his white-face makeup with a painted red smile in the superb oil on canvas portrait Tommy Adams, 1973, (Private collection, Michigan). The auguste clown and dwarf Jimmy Briscoe augmented his small stature by his commanding presence in the circus ring. Jimmy, with red nose and painted freckles on his rouged cheeks, is costumed in a colorfully patched, turquoise suit and green top hat as he looks out from the canvas in Roseman's very fine portrait Jimmy Briscoe, 1973, (Private collection, Switzerland).
Painting by Stanley Roseman of Frosty Little, Director of Clowns, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1977, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.
Stanley Roseman drawing the circus clowns Bruce Gutilla and Dale Longmire , Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Madison Square Garden, New York City, 1977. Photo courtesy of  NBC Television.
     NBC Television News aired on its evening broadcast an enthusiastic reportage of Roseman at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Madison Square Garden, and stated:
    "The clowns of the Garden have invited Stan into their backstage lives as a friend. He has joined the circus family."
     NBC News announced the exhibition Stanley Roseman - The Performing Arts in America, which had toured the United States for the American bicentennial from December of 1975 through 1976 and was concluding its national tour at the Library and Museum for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, winter-spring 1977. The one-man exhibition comprised the artist's drawings created at dress rehearsals and performances of opera, theatre, and dance and his work on the subject of the circus clown. (See "Biography" - Page 3 "The Performing Arts in America Exhibition.")
     The NBC broadcast included an interview with Roseman in the Main Gallery of the Lincoln Center Museum, where were exhibited a hundred works on paper and the artist's life-size paintings of the circus clowns.
     Sojourning with the Circus in 1973 at the Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, Roseman painted the portrait of Keith, (top of the page), and an equally impressive portrait of master clown Bobby Kay, whose distinctive white-face makeup is complemented by a voluminous ruff, (Private collection, Switzerland). The auguste clown Mark, wearing a Harlequinesque costume, and his partner the white-face clown Ron, in striped shirt and blue trousers, appear together in a wonderful painting, (Private collection, England). The tall, elegant clown known as King Richard was a regal subject for the artist's brush in a beautiful painting, (Private collection, New Jersey), and again in 1977 at the Nassau Coliseum, where the artist also painted the portrait of Frosty Little, (fig. 2, above).
Painting by Stanley Roseman of George, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1976, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
     In Washington, D.C., and Troy, New York, in 1976, Roseman created impressive paintings of Bruce and Dale, who are seen with the artist in the photograph above, (fig. 3), from the NBC Television News broadcast.
     When Roseman sojourned with the circus in 1976 in Washington, D.C., and in Hartford, Connecticut, one of the artist's engaging models was a recent inhabitant of Clown Alley, a white-face clown named George, with pensive, dark eyes and cheeks painted with bright red circles that complemented his white ball-of-a-nose adorned with a small glittering "diamond.''
     The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, conserves the splendid portrait George, presented here, (fig. 4). George is costumed in white like the commedia dell'arte character Gilles, who is depicted in paintings by Watteau, or a modern-day Pierrot with bright orange hair under a white hat and wearing a large purple bow tie.
     With fine chiaroscuro modeling Roseman renders the expressive face of the clown. The warm tones of a pearly-gray background are applied with a freedom of brushwork. The portrait George joins the museum's renowned collection devoted to the performing arts.
     When George arrived at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1985, the painting was greeted with much enthusiasm. The distinguished senior curator Dr. Alexander Schouvaloff wrote in a gracious letter:
Continuing Inspiration from the Circus Clowns
     At Philadelphia's Spectrum amphitheater in 1977, Roseman did an engaging portrait of the white-face clown Chino with red nose and orange hair, (Private collection, New York City), as well as a suite of fine, pencil drawings of the clowns in performance and in Clown Alley. That same year Roseman resumed painting and drawing the clowns in the familiar backstage environment of Madison Square Garden.
     Taking up his sculpting tools and clay, Roseman sculpted in 1978 a life-size bust of King Richard wearing a high top hat and Elizabethan ruff. In a reportage on Roseman's work on the circus clown, Anzeiger von Saanen, Gstaad, praises the ''superb portrait sculpture in bronze of King Richard.'' The edition of the sculpture King Richard comprises eight signed and numbered bronzes (Private collections, United States and Switzerland).
     The white-face clowns of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have a tradition of designing distinctive clown makeup, as seen in Roseman's portraits and exemplified here by the portrait Ruth. Ruth's beautiful makeup enhances her oval face. Red crescents adorn her cheeks, and thin, arched eyebrows are drawn high on her forehead. The corners of her eyes are accented with curved, black lines. Ruth applied small, red circles to the corners of her mouth and outlined the red on her lower lip with a thin, black line, as she did to the red on the tip of her nose and the crescents on her cheeks.
     In this splendid portrait, Roseman's fluent brushwork and stipples of blues, silvery-whites, and gold describe Ruth's costume complemented by the artist's fine chiaroscuro modeling of the clown's lovely face in powdery-white makeup. Ruth turns to look out from the canvas and smiles sweetly at the viewer, as she did for the artist painting her portrait.
5. Ruth (detail), 1976
Oil on canvas, 128 x 90 cm
Private collection, Switzerland
     Roseman returned to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for the Company's spring engagement at Madison Square Garden in 1981. Included in Roseman's work is a suite of impressive portrait drawings of the celebrated auguste clown Lou Jacobs, who kindly gave of his time to sit for the artist. A young tramp clown Charlie with red nose, painted black stubble-of-a-beard, and wearing a tattered brown jacket and baggy trousers also gave of his time, which resulted in "a magnificent oil on canvas portrait of the young clown Charlie,'' states Anzeiger von Saanen, Gstaad. (The portrait is today in a private collection in Geneva.)
Painting by Stanley Roseman of Ruth Chaddock, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1976, Private collection, Switzerland. © Stanley Roseman
     Although the male clown has traditionally held a prominent place in the circus ring, two young women Peggy Williams and Ruth Chaddock joined the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the 1970's and revived the personage of the female circus clown. A head-and-shoulders portrait of Peggy Williams wearing a fin-de-siècle hat and feathered boa around her shoulders is included in Roseman's ''stunning series of engravings entitled 'Clowns,' '' as states The Times, London. Ruth Chaddock is the subject of the oil on canvas portrait presented below, (fig. 5). Talented and charming performers, Peggy and Ruth were captivating models for Roseman, as the Parisian clownesse Cha-U-Kao had been for Toulouse-Lautrec a century before.
The Paintings
     When The Performing Arts in America exhibition was at the Library and Museum for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, Roseman received an invitation from the executive administration of the Engineering Research Center of Western Electric, a division of American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) in Princeton, New Jersey, to mount an exhibition in the Corporate Education Center's galleries at its campus in the neighboring town of Hopewell. Roseman was appreciative of the invitation as he had earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, the prestigious New York City college that combines the three disciplines of art, architecture, and engineering in a single institution of higher learning.
     The New York Times review ''Spirit of the Clown'' was greeted with excitement at Western Electric, as that was the first time an exhibition at the Corporate Education Center had been reviewed by the eminent daily. The New York Times praises ''this exhibition effectively organized by Ronald Davis'' and subtitles its review: ''Paintings by Stanley Roseman glow with a shiny dignity.''
Painting by Stanley Roseman of the circus clown Keith Crary (detail), 1973, Collection of the artist. © Stanley Roseman
6. Keith Crary (detail), 1973,
Oil on canvas, tondo, 60 cm
Private collection
     Featured in The New York Times review is the magnificent portrait of the young circus clown Keith Crary, (fig. 6). The clown in beautiful, white-face makeup, with a broad, black, painted smile; small, red nose; and ample tufts of blue hair on the sides of his head, is fashionably attired in a white shirt, dark jacket with red lapels, and a burgundy bow tie. With complementary warm shadows and brilliant white highlights, Roseman has masterly rendered the face of the young clown who with sympathetic eyes offers the viewer a friendly regard.
''In the Face of the Clown You See his Soul.''
- Aftonbladet, Stockholm
     Newspapers, magazines, and journals have featured Roseman's clowns and praised the artist's work on a variety of subjects and themes. Aftonbladet, Stockholm, published in 1980 in its Sunday magazine a cover story on the artist and presented on the cover the portrait Keith Crary. In the enthusiastic reportage entitled "In the Face of the Clown You See his Soul," Sweden's leading daily commends Roseman for his approach to his art: "He lives together with groups of people he wants to portray, seeks their inner self.'' Aftonbladet praises Roseman's work "on a high artistic level as well as accurately expressive of the human dimension.''
     The Spirit of the Clown inspired Roseman again when he took up his oil paints and paper and chalks in Paris, where troupes of Italian players of the commedia dell'arte first performed in the sixteenth century at the invitation of Catherine de Médicis, an enthusiastic patron of court divertissements and the new form of dance that came to be called "ballet.''[1] Over the following centuries, the comic characters of Harlequino, Pedrolino, Giglio, and Pulcinella assimilated into the French theatrical tradition. The Clown earned a respected place on the stage, in the circus ring, and in the music hall and became an important subject in French literature and art.
     The catalogue Les Arts du Théâtre de Watteau à Fragonard, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, states that the art of the eighteenth century in France is "strongly identified with the world of the theatre," ("profondément marqués par l'univers du théâtre").[2]  Through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Clown appears in works by Daumier, Doré, Courbet, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Bakst, Léger, Rouault, Matisse, Picasso, and Chagall. Roseman's captivating models in their greasepaint makeup and fanciful costumes include youthful comic performers garnishing early recognition and celebrated clowns of the day.
Poster - First International Music Hall Festival, "Les Feux de la Rampe" ("Footlights"), 1997, presented under the High Patronage of the French Ministry of Culture. Roseman's painting "Alexandre," 1997. © Stanley Roseman
''Resuming a thematic work from his youth, Stanley Roseman is again absorbed with the subject of the clown.
Using the colors and textures of his oils, he has created paintings that are both brilliant and moving portraits.''
[3]
- Bibliothèque Nationale de France
     For the oil on canvas portrait for the poster, (fig. 7), Roseman chose as his model a young, French performer named Alexandre and clothed him in semi-formal attire, with top hat and black bow tie, as the pictorial Master of Ceremonies.
     With the artist's knowledge of the traditional types of clowns and having observed the application of clown makeup from his celebrated models at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Roseman designed a distinctive, white-face makeup for Alexandre. With brown eyes, accented by black eyeliner and complemented by blue eye shadow, Alexandre looks directly out from the canvas.
     Alexandre transcends the painting's initial purpose to announce such a festive event as the First International Music Hall Festival. The dramatic stage lighting and the artist's chiaroscuro modeling of Alexandre's face, with strong lights and shadows, emphasize the young man's lean visage under his worn top hat. The smokey brown tones of the background contribute to a feeling of pathos in this magnificent portrait.
The poster features Roseman's painting
Alexandre
, Paris, 1997
Oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm
Collection of the artist
Spirit of the Clown
     Under the High Patronage of the French Ministry of Culture, Roseman was commissioned to create a work for the poster announcing the First International Music Hall Festival, Les Feux de la Rampe (Footlights), 1997.
7. Poster for the First International Music Hall Festival Les Feux de la Rampe (Footlights), 1997. Presented under the High Patronage of the French Ministry of Culture.
    Roseman's work on the subject of the Clown is also presented on the website stanleyrosemandance.com.
     Along with paintings from the artist's sojourns with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus is a selection from the suite of drypoint engravings Clowns, published by Ronald Davis 1976, and conserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Library and Museum for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, New York City.
    "Spirit of the Clown Paris'' presents the artist's paintings and drawings that include works in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille; Museum Ingres, Montauban; Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg; and the Teylers Museum in the Netherlands.
8. Stanley Roseman drawing from a loge in  the landmark Le Théâtre le Ranelagh, Paris, 1995.
1. Pierre Louis Ducharte, The Italian Comedy, (New York: Dover Publications, 1966), p. 20.
2. Marianne R. Michel and Daniel Rabreau, Les Arts du Théâtre de Watteau à Fragonard,
    (Bordeaux: Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1980), p. 43.
3. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris - Drawings on the Dance at the Paris Opéra,
    (text in French and English), (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1996), p. 11.
     The Administration of the Ranelagh Theatre kindly provided Roseman with a loge on either side of the stage from where he drew the clowns at performances.
Stanley Roseman drawing from a loge in  the landmark Le Théâtre le Ranelagh, Paris, 1995. Photo © Ronald Davis