Seated Harlequin (L'Arlequin assis)

Accession Number

Seated Harlequin (L'Arlequin assis)

Juan Gris

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

28 7/8 x 36 1/4 in. (73.2 x 92 cm);28 7/8 x 36 1/4 in. (73.2 x 92 cm);38 3/4 x 44 13/16 x 2 1/16 in. (98.4 x 113.7 x 5.1 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of The Carey Walker Foundation

Label copy
March 28, 2009
Between 1922 and 1924 Gris created costumes, sets, and maquettes for the famed director of the Ballets Russes, Sergei Diaghilev (1872–1929). It was through this work that he discovered the harlequin, a stock character from Italian commedia dell’arte theater. The harlequin became a recurring theme in the work made during the last decade of his brief life and represents a departure from the artist’s Cubist style. In this painting we nevertheless find evidence of the Cubist preoccupation with dimension and perspective. The composition forms a spiral that culminates in the figure’s left hand, which is extended out toward the viewer. The depth created by this motion is countered by the applications of purple and yellow paint, complementary colors that vie for attention and flatten the picture.
Juan Gris is associated with the group known as the Salon Cubists, so named because they exhibited together at the Paris Salon des Indépendants, thus establishing themselves as a recognizable artistic movement in contrast to the comparatively private Cubism of Braque and Picasso in the years between 1907 and 1914.

Subject matter
Between 1922 and 1924, Gris produced sets, costumes, and props for ballet and theatre productions, working most notably with Serge Diaghilev. This is one of the few paintings he produced during that time. The harlequin was a stock character from the theatre and is a recurring figure in Gris's work. This painting is also an example of Gris's late Cubist style.

Physical Description
A massive harlequin figure, depicted in purples, greens, and yellow, sits in a chair at center, wearing a hat. A plate sits on the left armrest of the chair. The central composition of the seated harlequin is contained within a circular framework.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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figures (representations)
modern and contemporary art
oil painting (technique)
oil paintings (visual works)
performing artists

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