World's #1 Chiarini Great Circus Illustration. (Downloadable visual material, 1886) []
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World's #1 Chiarini Great Circus Illustration.

Author: Claremont College Digital Library.; Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College.
Publisher: Claremont Colleges Digital Library 1886-09-03.
Edition/Format:   Downloadable visual material : Picture : Artwork reproduction : English

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Genre/Form: Ukiyo-e
Named Person: Chikanobu Hashimoto; Chikanobu Hashimoto
Material Type: Picture, Artwork reproduction, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Visual material
All Authors / Contributors: Claremont College Digital Library.; Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College.
OCLC Number: 181589058
Notes: Meiji (Japan, 1869-1912).
Other Titles: Sekai Dai ichi Chiyari ko Dai Kyokuba no zu



According to this poster the Chiarini Italian Circus group would be performing at Akihabara in the Kanda District of Tokyo from the first of September 1886. While Japan had a long tradition of jugglers, acrobats and other circus-like public performers, the first Western-style circus arrived in Yokohama in March 1864 with Richard Risley's company of horses and trick riders. In 1872 Louis Soullier's French equestrian show visited Tokyo and was even invited to perform at the Kyoto Industrial Exposition. Chiarini's Italian Circus was the first to introduce exotic animal acts with tigers, elephants and monkeys, and it is this group which is featured in Chikanobu's poster. Against the background colors of the Italian flag, various circus acts are depicted, without regard for spatial positioning. An "Englishman rides a horse at top speed" above an African lion and a "6 year old elephant," that has its mouth around the trainer. Two one-legged men and a "French woman" do acrobatics above an ostrich. More acrobats, some on horseback, are depicted at left. The Indian tigers, though, take center stage beneath the title banner, and above a man holding a woman while he rides astride two horses. Another 1886 print by Chikanobu in the BMFA collection shows many of the same performers in front of a "big top" tent set up in a garden where the emperor and empress are seated with their entourage on the verandah of a nearby traditional Japanese building. The style of the Scripps picture is rather crude for Chikanobu and for the mid-1880s in general, but may be deliberately in an 1860-70s Yokohama-e style to recall the Yokohama origins and exotic aspects of the first Western circuses in Japan, just as posters for American circuses like the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey use 19th century graphic styles in the 21st century posters. While the tiger images are probably newly drawn for this print by Chikanobu using an old style, the equestrians seem to be copies of 1870s circus prints by Utagawa Yoshiharu.


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