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Life Under the Big Top

  • Elephants, monkeys, and clowns - oh my!

    Come one, come all - the circus is in town, performing amazing feats of balance in the big top!

    Over the years, my wife, Sharon, and I have accumulated a number of vintage circus toys. Since acrobatic acts are an important part of circus shows, I wanted to create an image where all the toys were balancing perfectly. I was tickled to be able to include the tin top to add a touch of punning to the scene.

  • I couldn’t really get all these items to really balance in my studio; instead, I had to paint the image in sections. Except for the top, each of the other toys was freestanding so I added each one into the composition separately.

    To heighten the drama, I used a spotlight effect as if the toy is in the center ring. I painted a rich background, with paint dragged along the canvas, to suggest the feel of a circus tent and to showcase the fantastic shadows.

    Other details

    At the top of the scene is a Whirling Wilmer balancing toy from the early 1900s. He has a sharp pointy toe that will balance on anything - I’ve even balanced this toy on a piece of string. The monkeys are contemporary and the remaining toys are from the 1940s and 50s.

  • All Richard Hall prints are limited edition and hand-signed and numbered by the artist.

    All of our prints are finished with a coating that protects the print and enhances light-fastness; we use the highest quality pigmented inks with an estimated lifetime of 118 years.

    Canvas giclées: Edition of 50 (for all sizes), signed and numbered on the back of the piece. Archivally mounted or stretched and hand-coated with protectant. Framed canvas giclées are hand-framed in our studio with an espresso-colored frame with gold-tone lip. Unframed canvas giclées should not be framed with glass.

    Paper giclées: Edition of 250 for 12” x 16” sizes; edition of 125 for 18” x 24”. Printed on high-quality, acid-free paper and comes with a hand-cut mat that fits into a standard-size frame. We recommend that you use a frame with glass to ensure longevity of your paper print.