An Encore Too Many

WAG 2973


This painting is set behind the scenes of a travelling circus. Three performers in costume bend anxiously over a boy acrobat. He lies on the ground with his shoulders supported by a ‘property’ box. The nature of the boy’s injury is unclear. Has he fainted from exhaustion or injury, or has he died? Paintings like this one were designed to provoke the viewers’ imaginations, encouraging them to make up the back-story to the scene before them. Sentimental images, like this one, were particularly popular.