Pesme of Paris
A carte-de-visite portrait of the clown acrobat and juggler Jean-Baptiste Auriol (1808-1881), one of the most famous circus performers of the Second Empire. He appeared regularly at the Cirque de l'Impératrice.
On 20 September 1862 the Connaught Watchman carried the following report. ‘Auriol, the popular clown of the Cirque de l’Imperatrice, has recently been plunged into the deepest affliction. After losing his son, a fine young man, who was to have succeeded him as clown, he has just now lost his only remaining child, a daughter, Mme Auriol, married to a cousin of the same name, who died a few days since in childbed. The funeral took place in the chapel in the Avenue St Cloud, and presented a heartrending spectacle. At the cemetery the bereaved husband could not stand without support, the unhappy father on taking the last look at his daughter’s coffin, fell back insensible into the arms of his friends. Pour Auriol, who is now 65, will hardly recover this terrible shock, and yet perhaps he may be obliged still to amuse the public with his jests and antics.’
Auriol died on 29 August 1881. ‘Jean Baptiste Auriol, a gymnast and clown, of European celebrity and the delight of circus-goers fifty years ago, expired on Monday at the advanced age of seventy-three. When only six years old Auriol made his début in the arena, and quickly attained a reputation for the skill and originality of his antics. After successfully exercising his profession in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain, he became attached to the famous circus of Franconi, in Paris, in the year 1834, and continued an active career as a clown until he reached the age of fifty, when he went on the stage’ (Daily Telegraph & Courier, 1 September 1881).
Photographed by Pesme of Paris.
Condition: the print presents a few small imperfections in the area of the background but is otherwise in excellent condition, with very good tonal range. The mount is clean and firm, with crisp edges and sharp corners. A pencilled inscription verso in a period hand reads: ‘Auriol, comique du Cirque Franconi.’
Dimensions: the dimensions of a standard carte-de-visite are approximately 4.1" by 2.5" (10.5 cm by 6.3 cm).