Series - Harlequins

A selection of the most beautiful modern and contemporary harlequins !

Antoine Watteau, "Mezzetin", 1718.

Mezzetin is a comedy character. It is one of the varieties of Harlequin. Angelo Costantini, born in Verona around 1655 and died in 1730, had been hired in the old Italian troupe of Paris, to double the famous Dominique, who had acquired such a great popularity in the role of Harlequin. In order to escape from an overwhelming comparison, Costantini imagined to renew the job by making a Harlequin half adventurer, half valet, whom he called Mezzetin, to express this mixture.
Edgar Degas, "Arlequin jaune", 1884. 

Edgar Degas, "Arlequin et Colombine", 1886.

Paul Cézanne, "Mardi Gras ou Pierrot et Arlequin", 1888. 

This painting depicts the artist's son Paul with his friend Louis Guillaume dressed as Pierrot and Harlequin for Mardi Gras in the studio on the rue du Val-de-Grâce. What is remarkable about this painting is that it shows the "style" of Cézanne, mainly in the backgrounds and details. It is only by looking closely at the work, and especially at the faces, that one discovers the modernity of the painter of the Montagne Saint Victoire. Paul Durand-Ruel sold this work to the collector Sergei Shchukin in 1904. It was confiscated by the Bolsheviks after the October Revolution and transferred in 1918 to the Museum of New Western Art in Moscow and then in 1948 to the Hermitage.

Paul Cézanne, "Étude pour l'Arlequin dans Mardi Gras", 1888. 

Mardi Gras is a festival that marks the end of the week of seven fat days, formerly called carnal days (we like that term better). This period during which one feasts precedes Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of Lent. The festivities associated with the carnival precede in the Christian tradition the entry in the Lent during which the Christian eats "thin" by abstaining notably from meat; from where the etymology of the word "carnival" which derives from the medieval Latin "carnelevare" meaning "to remove remove the flesh" i.e. "to remove the meat" of the table from which it will remain absent during all the Lent.

 Paul Cézanne ,"Arlequin",1890.

Edward Hopper, "Harlequin and Lady in Evening Dress", 1900.

Pablo Picasso. 

For Picasso 1901 was marked by the death of his friend Carles Casagemas with whom he had shared a studio and Parisian nights during his first stay. In his paintings Pablo Picasso introduces dark rings and flat areas of color the figure of Harlequin pensive and melancholy appears. Just like the blue that inspired him the death of his friend and which gradually invades the canvas.

Pablo Picasso,"Au Lapin Agile", 1905.

Pablo Picasso, "Arlequin", 1915. 

Juan Gris, "Arlequin à la guitare", 1919.

Emil Nolde, "Danseur et Arlequin", 1920. 

 Pablo Picasso, "Paulo en Arlequin", 1924.

André Derain, Arlequin et Pierrot, 1924. 

My favorite Harlequin was commissioned by the collector Paul Guillaume to André Derain who chose to represent two theatrical characters from the Italian Comedia dell'arte: Harlequin in his costume with colored rhombuses, wearing a bicorn and Pierrot in his white collared suit. In this large canvas - 175 x 175 cm, from 1924, we recognize Paul Guillaume as Pierrot. I love the composition, still life, at the bottom right which is like a painting within a painting.

Jean Lurçat, "Arlequin", 1925.

Miró, "Le Carnaval d'Arlequin". 

As early as 1924 Joan Miró was rubbing shoulders with the Surrealists in Paris when he did this painting he was not eating his fill. "I tried to translate the hallucinations that hunger produced. I did not paint what I saw in my dreams but what hunger produced: a form of trance similar to what orientals feel. There is an automaton playing the guitar, a harlequin with a large moustache, a bird with blue wings coming out of an egg, a couple of cats playing with a ball of wool, a flying fish, an insect coming out of a dice, a ladder with a large ear, and through a window a conical shape supposed to represent the Eiffel Tower. Miró does not take into account the real dimensions of the objects: "For me a blade of grass is more important than a tree, a small stone than a mountain, a small dragonfly is as important as an eagle. One might think that all these elements are the result of chance, but the sketches show that this apparent chance is the result of a precise composition which is contrary to the spirit of the Surrealist painters. 

Gino Severini, "Sérénade", 1930.

Pablo Gargallo, "Arlequin à la flûte", 1931.

Raoul Dufy, "Arlequin rouge et blanc au violon", 1945.

Pablo Picasso  "Les trois musiciens", 1921.

For Picasso, this work marks a return to bright colors after the analytical cubism whose palette is limited to one or two dark and dull colors.
This painting represents the three characters of the Commedia dell'arte: Pierrot plays the clarinet, Harlequin plays the violin, Capucin holds scores. Under the table we can distinguish a dog whose black shadow is rather difficult to perceive, on the left. One can confuse this dog with the shadow of the table or that of the legs of the people. We see that there is no realistic light, it seems that everything is lit at the same time so that the objects and characters lack volume. The characters and objects are quite recognizable although they are composed of abstract elements. This work is an oil on canvas but it looks like a collage, the colored shapes that build the people and objects are like pieces of paper glued together.

Jean Pougny, "Arlequin", 1934. 

Ivan Albertovitch Puni, known as Jean Pougny, was born in Kuokkala in 1894 in the province of Saint Petersburg (now Finland). At the age of 15, he decided to devote himself to painting. A year later, he made a first stay in Paris, where he worked in various art academies; the young man discovered Fauvism, Cubism and Japanese art.
In 1912, back in St. Petersburg, Puni participated in several group exhibitions with Goncharova, Tatlin and Malevich. His studio became a meeting place for the avant-garde. During a second trip to Paris (1914), Ivan Puni exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants. A leading figure of the Russian avant-garde, he organized the first Futurist exhibitions. In the immediate post-war period, he went to Vitebsk at the invitation of Marc Chagall to teach at his Academy. The political situation forced him to flee his country and he took refuge in Berlin with his wife (the artist Xana Bogouslavskaya, married in 1913). He participated in several collective exhibitions in Germany in the early 1920s, created sets and costumes for the theater and gave lectures. In 1924, Puni moved to Paris and Frenchified his name, Ivan Puni will now be Jean Pougny. His style changed and nothing remained of the cubofuturism and suprematism of the Russian years. He painted in the manner of the Nabis (landscapes, interiors, scenes of Parisian life) while remaining fully original. He became friends with Fernand Léger, Marcoussis, Amédée Ozenfant.  His works are part of the collections of the greatest museums such as the Centre Pompidou or the MoMA in New York.

Françoise Gilot, "Germaine en Arlequine", 1956. 

Obviously influenced by Pablo Picasso, whose life she shared from 1944 to 1953, Françoise Gilot also tackled the subject of the Comedia dell'arte.

"Arlequin" de Severini.
When one looks at Severini's return to figurative painting and the evolution towards abstraction of his master in divisionism Giacomo Balla, one can only observe the relativity of artistic value... Severini realized in the castle of Montegufoni, in Tuscany, at the request of its owner, a series of Harlequins. Severini's name is attached to the School of Italian Art that he founded in 1952 in Paris.