gallery ~ traditional spectacles


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La Danse De Corde, France, c.1780.
An 18th century French illustration of an unnamed female tightrope dancer.
La Danse De Corde c.1780




 

The Swiss Milkmaid and the Tyrolean Shepherd, London, c.1836.
The renowned equestrian Andrew Ducrow (1798-1842) and his wife Louisa Woolford, performing in Astley's Amphitheatre, about 1836, in the spectacle The Swiss Milkmaid and the Tyrolean Shepherd. Two clowns look as the ringmaster, Mr Widdicomb, supervises the proceedings.

Swiss Milkmaid and the Tyrolean Shepherd c.1836



 

The Courier of St Petersburg, London, c.1829
The renowned equestrian Andrew Ducrow (1798-1842) performing his most famous equestrian spectacle, The Courier of St Petersburg, in Astley's Amphitheatre. At the climax of this act, he rode and drove seven horses simultaneously around the circus ring.

Equestrian Andrew Ducrow performing.



 

Indian acrobats
Indian acrobats, about 1600
Indian Acrobats c.1600




 

Mazeppa, or The Wild Horse of Tartary, Astley's Amphitheatre, London, August 1833
A playbill for Astley's Amphitheatre, dated 5 August 1833, featuring a scene from the equestrian spectacle Mazeppa, or The Wild Horse of Tartary, an equestrian spectacle based loosely on Lord Byron's epic poem, Mazeppa.
Mazeppa, or The Wild Horse of Tartary Astley's Amphitheatre




 

The Siege of Troy, Astley's Amphitheatre, London, April 1833
TA playbill for Astley's Amphitheatre, dated 29 April 1833, featuring a scene from the equestrian spectacle, The Siege of Troy.
Astley's - Troy Spectacular 1833




 

Hand-balancer at an English fair, c. 1300
This performer at an English fair in the Middle Ages is balancing on the tips of two swords.
Hand Balancer at an English Fair




 

Puritan ropewalker, England, 1661
During the Puritanical Commonwealth period, public entertainments throughout England were closely regulated. This ropewalker, depicted in 1661, was obliged to perform wearing a Puritan's hat.

Puritan ropewalker, England, 1661