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Paul Legrand as Pierrot circa 1855. Photograph by Nadar.

Pierrot (French pronunciation: ​[pjɛʁo]) is a stock character of pantomime and Commedia dell'Arte whose origins are in the late seventeenth-century Italian troupe of players performing in Paris and known as the Comédie-Italienne; the name is a hypocorism of Pierre (Peter), via the suffix -ot. His character in contemporary popular culture—in poetry, fiction, the visual arts, as well as works for the stage, screen, and concert hall—is that of the sad clown, pining for love of Columbine, who usually breaks his heart and leaves him for Harlequin. Performing unmasked, with a whitened face, he wears a loose white blouse with large buttons and wide white pantaloons. Sometimes he appears with a frilled collaret and a hat, usually with a close-fitting crown and wide round brim, more rarely with a conical shape like a dunce's cap. But most frequently, since his reincarnation under Jean-Gaspard Deburau, he wears neither collar nor hat, only a black skullcap. The defining characteristic of Pierrot is his naïveté: he is seen as a fool, often the butt of pranks, yet nonetheless trusting.

It was a generally buffoonish Pierrot that held the European stage for the first two centuries of his history. And yet early signs of a respectful, even sympathetic attitude toward the character appeared in the plays of Jean-François Regnard and in the paintings of Antoine Watteau, an attitude that would deepen in the nineteenth century, after the Romantics claimed the figure as their own. For Jules Janin and Théophile Gautier, Pierrot was not a fool but an avatar of the post-Revolutionary People, struggling, sometimes tragically, to secure a place in the bourgeois world.[1] And subsequent artistic/cultural movements found him equally amenable to their cause: the Decadents turned him, like themselves, into a disillusioned disciple of Schopenhauer, a foe of Woman and of callow idealism; the Symbolists saw him as a lonely fellow-sufferer, crucified upon the rood of soulful sensitivity, his only friend the distant moon; the Modernists converted him into a Whistlerian subject for canvases devoted to form and color and line.[2] In short, Pierrot became an alter-ego of the artist, specifically of the famously alienated artist of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[3] His physical insularity; his poignant lapses into mutism, the legacy of the great mime Deburau; his white face and costume, suggesting not only innocence but the pallor of the dead; his often frustrated pursuit of Columbine, coupled with his never-to-be-vanquished unworldly naïveté—all conspired to lift him out of the circumscribed world of the Commedia dell'Arte and into the larger realm of myth. Much of that mythic quality still adheres to the "sad clown" of the postmodern era.

Origins: seventeenth century

Antoine Watteau: Italian Actors, c. 1719. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

He is sometimes said to be a French variant of the sixteenth-century Italian Pedrolino,[4] but the two types have little but their names ("Little Pete") and social stations in common.[5] Both are comic servants, but Pedrolino, as a so-called first zanni, often acts with cunning and daring,[6] an engine of the plot in the scenarios where he appears.[7] Pierrot, on the other hand, as a "second" zanni, is a static character in his earliest incarnations, "standing on the periphery of the action",[8] dispensing advice that seems to him sage, and courting—unsuccessfully—his master's young daughter, Columbine, with bashfulness and indecision.[9]

His origins among the Italian players in France are most unambiguously traced to Molière's character, the lovelorn peasant Pierrot, in Don Juan, or The Stone Guest (1665).[10] In 1673, probably inspired by Molière's success, the Comédie-Italienne made its own contribution to the Don Juan legend with an Addendum to "The Stone Guest", which included Molière's Pierrot.[11] Thereafter the character—sometimes a peasant,[12] but more often now an Italianate "second" zanni—appeared fairly regularly in the Italians’ offerings, his role always taken by one Giuseppe Giaratone (or Geratoni), until the troupe was banished by royal decree in 1697.

Among the French dramatists who wrote for the Italians and who gave Pierrot life on their stage were Jean Palaprat, Claude-Ignace Brugière de Barante, Antoine Houdar de la Motte, and the most sensitive of his early interpreters, Jean-François Regnard.[13] He acquires there a very distinctive personality. He seems an anomaly among the busy social creatures that surround him; he is isolated, out of touch.[14] Columbine laughs at his advances;[15] his masters who are in pursuit of pretty young wives brush off his warnings to act their age.[16] His is a solitary voice, and his estrangement, however comic, bears the pathos of the portraits—Watteau's chief among them—that we will encounter in the centuries to come.

Eighteenth century


Antoine Watteau: Gilles (or Pierrot) and Four Other Characters of the Commedia dell'arte, c. 1718. Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Nicolas Lancret: Actors of the Comédie-Italienne, between 1716 and 1736. Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard: A Boy as Pierrot, between 1776 and 1780. The Wallace Collection, London.

An Italian company was called back to Paris in 1716, and Pierrot was reincarnated by the actors Pierre-François Biancolelli (son of the Harlequin of the banished troupe of players) and, after Biancolelli abandoned the role, the celebrated Fabio Sticotti (1676–1741) and his son Antoine-Jean (1715–1772).[17] But the character seems to have been regarded as unimportant by this company, since he appears infrequently in its new plays.[18]

His real life in the theater in the eighteenth century is to be found on the lesser stages of the capital, at its two great fairs, the Foires Saint-Germain and Saint-Laurent. There he appeared in the marionette theaters and in the motley entertainments—featuring song, dance, audience participation, and acrobatics—that were calculated to draw a crowd while sidestepping the regulations that ensured the Théâtre-Français a monopoly on "regular" dramas in Paris.[19] Sometimes he spoke gibberish (in the so-called pièces à la muette); sometimes the audience itself sang his lines, inscribed on placards held aloft by hovering Cupids (in the pièces à écriteau).[20] The result, far from "regular" drama, tended to put a strain on his character, and, as a consequence, the early Pierrot of the fairgrounds is a much less nuanced and rounded type than we find in the older repertoire. This holds true even when sophisticated playwrights, such as Alain-René Lesage and his collaborators, Dorneval and Fuzelier, began (around 1712) to contribute more "regular" plays to the Foires.[21]

The broad satirical streak in Lesage often rendered him indifferent to Pierrot's character, and consequently, as the critic Vincent Barberet observes, "Pierrot is assigned the most diverse roles . . . and sometimes the most opposed to his personality. Besides making him a valet, a roasting specialist, a chef, a hash-house cook, an adventurer, [Lesage] just as frequently dresses him up as someone else." In not a few of the early Foire plays, Pierrot's character is therefore "quite badly defined."[22] (For a typical farce by Lesage during these years, see his Harlequin, King of Serendib of 1713.) In the main, Pierrot's inaugural years at the Foires were rather degenerate ones.

An important factor that probably hastened his degeneration was the multiplicity of his fairground interpreters. Not only actors but also acrobats and dancers were quick to seize on his role, inadvertently reducing Pierrot to a generic type.[23] The extent of that degeneration may be gauged by the fact that Pierrot came to be confused, apparently because of his manner and costume, with that much coarser character Gilles,[24] as a famous portrait by Antoine Watteau attests (note title of image at right).

But in the 1720s, Pierrot at last came into his own. Antoine Galland's final volume of The Thousand and One Nights had appeared in 1717, and in the plots of these tales Lesage and his collaborators found inspiration, both exotic and (more importantly) coherent, for new plays. In Achmet and Almanzine (1728) by Lesage and Dorneval,[25] for example, we are introduced not only to the royal society of far-off Astrakhan but also to a familiar and well-drawn servant of old—the headstrong and bungling Pierrot.[26] It was also in the 1720s that Alexis Piron loaned his talents to the Foires, and in plays like Trophonius's Cave (1722) and The Golden Ass (1725),[27] we meet the same engaging Pierrot of Giaratone's creation. The accomplished comic actor Jean-Baptiste Hamoche, who had worked at the Foires from 1712 to 1718,[28] reappeared in Pierrot's role in 1721, and from that year until 1732 he "obtained, thanks to the naturalness and truth of his acting, great applause and became the favorite actor of the public."[29] But Pierrot's triumph was short-lived. "The retirement of Hamoche in 1733", writes Barberet, "was fatal to Pierrot. After this date, we hardly ever see him appear again except in old plays."[30]

But as he seemed to expire on the theatrical scene, he found new life in the visual arts. He, along with his fellow Commedia masks,[31] was beginning to be "poeticized" in the early 1700s: he was being made the subject, not only of poignant folksong ("Au clair de la lune", sometimes attributed to Lully),[32] but also of the more ambitious art of Claude Gillot (Master André's Tomb [c. 1717]), of Gillot's students Watteau (Italian Actors [c. 1719]) and Nicolas Lancret (Italian Actors near a Fountain [c. 1719]), of Jean-Baptiste Oudry (Italian Actors in a Park [c. 1725]), and of Jean-Honoré Fragonard (A Boy as Pierrot [1776–1780]). This development will accelerate in the next century.


Before turning to that century, however, we should note that it was in this, the eighteenth, that Pierrot began to be naturalized in other countries. As early as 1673, just months after Pierrot had made his debut in the Addendum to "The Stone Guest", Scaramouche Tiberio Fiorilli and a troupe assembled from the Comédie-Italienne entertained Londoners with selections from their Parisian repertoire.[33] And in 1717, Pierrot's name first appears in an English entertainment: a pantomime by John Rich entitled The Jealous Doctor; or, The Intriguing Dame, in which the role was undertaken by a certain Mr. Griffin. Thereafter, until the end of the century, Pierrot appeared fairly regularly in English pantomimes (which were originally mute harlequinades but later evolved into the Christmas pantomimes of today; in the nineteenth century, the harlequinade was presented as a "play within a play" during the pantomime), finding his most notable interpreter in Carlo Delpini (1740–1828). His role was uncomplicated: Delpini, according to the popular theater historian, M. Willson Disher, "kept strictly to the idea of a creature so stupid as to think that if he raised his leg level with his shoulder he could use it as a gun."[34] So conceived, Pierrot was easily and naturally displaced by the native English Clown when the latter found a suitably brilliant interpreter. It did so in 1800, when "Joey" Grimaldi made his celebrated debut in the role.[35]


A more long-lasting development occurred in Denmark. In that same year, 1800, a troupe of Italian players led by Pasquale Casorti began giving performances in Dyrehavsbakken, then a well-known site for entertainers, hawkers, and inn-keepers. Casorti's son, Giuseppe (1749–1826), had undoubtedly been impressed by the Pierrots they had seen while touring France in the late eighteenth century, for he assumed the role and began appearing as Pierrot in his own pantomimes, which now had a formulaic structure (Cassander, father of Columbine, and Pierrot, his dim-witted servant, undertake a mad pursuit of Columbine and her rogue lover, Harlequin).[36] The formula has proven enduring: Pierrot is still a fixture at Bakken, the oldest amusement park in the world, where he plays the nitwit talking to and entertaining children, and at nearby Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest, where the Harlequin and Columbine act is performed as a pantomime and ballet. Pierrot—as "Pjerrot", with his boat-like hat and scarlet grin—remains one of the parks’ chief attractions.

Francisco de Goya: Itinerant Actors (1793). Museo del Prado, Madrid.


Ludwig Tieck's The Topsy-Turvy World (1798) is an early—and highly successful—example of the introduction of the Commedia dell'Arte characters into parodic metatheater. (Pierrot is a member of the audience watching the play.)


The penetration of Pierrot and his companions of the Commedia into Spain is documented in a painting by Goya, Itinerant Actors (1793). It foreshadows the work of such Spanish successors as Picasso and Fernand Pelez, who also showed strong sympathy with the lives of traveling saltimbancos.

Nineteenth century

Pantomime of Deburau at the Théâtre des Funambules

Auguste Bouquet: Jean-Gaspard Deburau, c. 1830.

When, in 1762, a great fire destroyed the Foire Saint-Germain and the new Comédie-Italienne claimed the fairs’ stage-offerings (now known collectively as the Opéra-Comique) as their own, new enterprises began to attract the Parisian public, as little theaters—all but one now defunct— sprang up along the Boulevard du Temple. One of these was the Théâtre des Funambules, licensed in its early years to present only mimed and acrobatic acts.[37] This will be the home, beginning in 1816, of Jean-Gaspard Deburau (1796–1846),[38] the most famous Pierrot in the history of the theater, immortalized by Jean-Louis Barrault in Marcel Carné's film Children of Paradise (1945).

Adopting the stage-name "Baptiste", Deburau played Pierrot, from about 1819, in a number of types of comic pantomime—rustic, melodramatic, "realistic", and fantastic.[39] He was often the servant of the heavy father (usually Cassander), his mute acting a compound of placid grace and cunning malice. His style, according to Louis Péricaud, the chronicler of the Funambules, formed "an enormous contrast with the exhuberance, the superabundance of gestures, of leaps, that ... his predecessors had employed."[40] He altered the costume: freeing his long neck for comic effects, he dispensed with the frilled collaret; he substituted a skullcap for a hat, thereby keeping his expressive face unshadowed; and he greatly increased the amplitude of both blouse and trousers. Most importantly, the character of his Pierrot, as it evolved gradually through the 1820s, eventually parted company almost completely with the crude Pierrots—timid, sexless, lazy, and greedy—of the earlier pantomime.[41]

With him [wrote the poet and journalist Théophile Gautier after Deburau's death], the role of Pierrot was widened, enlarged. It ended by occupying the entire piece, and, be it said with all the respect due to the memory of the most perfect actor who ever lived, by departing entirely from its origin and being denaturalized. Pierrot, under the flour and blouse of the illustrious Bohemian, assumed the airs of a master and an aplomb unsuited to his character; he gave kicks and no longer received them; Harlequin now scarcely dared brush his shoulders with his bat; Cassander would think twice before boxing his ears.[42]

Deburau seems to have had a predilection for "realistic" pantomime[43]—a predilection that, as we will see, led eventually to calls for Pierrot's expulsion from it. But the pantomime that had the greatest appeal to his public was the "pantomime-arlequinade-féerie", sometimes "in the English style" (i.e., with a prologue in which characters were transformed into the Commedia types). The action unfolded in fairy-land, peopled with good and bad spirits who both advanced and impeded the plot, which was interlarded with comically violent (and often scabrous) mayhem. As in the Bakken pantomimes, that plot hinged upon Cassander's pursuit of Harlequin and Columbine—but it was complicated, in Baptiste's interpretation, by a clever and ambiguous Pierrot. Baptiste's Pierrot was both a fool and no fool; he was Cassandre's valet but no one's servant. He was an embodiment of comic contrasts, showing

imperturbable sang-froid [again the words are Gautier's], artful foolishness and foolish finesse, brazen and naïve gluttony, blustering cowardice, skeptical credulity, scornful servility, preoccupied insouciance, indolent activity, and all those surprising contrasts that must be expressed by a wink of the eye, by a puckering of the mouth, by a knitting of the brow, by a fleeting gesture.[44]

As the Gautier citations suggest, Deburau early—about 1828—caught the attention of the Romantics, and soon he was being celebrated in the reviews of Charles Nodier (Gautier's praise would follow), in an article by Charles Baudelaire on "The Essence of Laughter" (1855), and in the poetry of Théodore de Banville. A pantomime produced at the Funambules in 1828, The Gold Dream, or Harlequin and the Miser, was widely thought to be the work of Nodier, and both Gautier and Banville wrote Pierrot playlets that were eventually produced on other stages—Posthumous Pierrot (1847) and The Kiss (1887), respectively.[45]

"Shakespeare at the Funambules" and aftermath

In 1842, Deburau was inadvertently responsible for translating Pierrot into the realm of tragic myth, heralding the isolated and doomed figure—often the fin-de-siècle artist's alter-ego—of Decadent, Symbolist, and early Modernist art and literature. In that year, Gautier, drawing upon Deburau's newly acquired audacity as a Pierrot, as well as upon the Romantics’ store of Shakespearean plots and of Don-Juanesque legend, published a "review" of a pantomime he claimed to have seen at the Funambules.

Pierrot tickles Columbine to death. Drawing by Adolphe Willette in Le Pierrot, December 7, 1888, inspired by Paul Margueritte's Pierrot, Murderer of His Wife, 1881.

He entitled it "Shakespeare at the Funambules", and in it he summarized and analyzed an unnamed pantomime of unusually somber events: Pierrot murders an old-clothes man for garments to court a duchess, then is skewered in turn by the sword with which he stabbed the peddler when the latter's ghost lures him into a dance at his wedding. The pantomime under "review" was a fabrication (though it inspired a hack to turn it into an actual pantomime, The Ol’ Clo's Man [1842], in which Deburau probably appeared[46]—and also inspired Barrault's wonderful recreation of it in Children of Paradise). But it importantly marked a turning-point in Pierrot's career: henceforth Pierrot could bear comparisons with the serious over-reachers of high literature, like Don Juan or Macbeth; he could be a victim—even unto death—of his own cruelty and daring.

When Gustave Courbet drew a crayon illustration for The Black Arm (1856), a pantomime by Fernand Desnoyers written for another mime, Paul Legrand (see next section), the Pierrot who quakes with fear as a black arm snakes up from the ground before him is clearly a child of the Pierrot in The Ol’ Clo's Man. So, too, are Honoré Daumier's Pierrots: creatures often suffering a harrowing anguish.[47] In 1860, Deburau was directly credited with inspiring such anguish, when, in a novella called Pierrot by Henri Rivière, the mime-protagonist blames his real-life murder of a treacherous Harlequin on Baptiste's "sinister" cruelties. Among the most celebrated of pantomimes in the latter part of the century would appear sensitive moon-mad souls duped into criminality—usually by love of a fickle Columbine—and so inevitably marked for destruction (Paul Margueritte's Pierrot, Murderer of His Wife [1881]; the mime Séverin's Poor Pierrot [1891]; Catulle MendèsOl’ Clo's Man [1896], modeled on Gautier's "review").[48]

Pantomime after Baptiste: Charles Deburau, Paul Legrand, and their successors

Nadar: Charles Deburau as Pierrot, 1854.

Deburau's son, Jean-Charles (or, as he preferred, "Charles" [1829–1873]), assumed Pierrot's blouse the year after his father's death, and he was praised for bringing Baptiste's agility to the role.[49] (Nadar's photographs of him in various poses are some of the best to come out of his studio—if not some of the best of the era.)[50]

But the most important Pierrot of mid-century was Charles-Dominique-Martin Legrand, known as Paul Legrand (1816–1898; see photo at top of page). In 1839, Legrand made his debut at the Funambules as the lover Leander in the pantomimes, and when he began appearing as Pierrot, in 1845, he brought a new sensibility to the character. A mime whose talents were dramatic rather than acrobatic, Legrand helped steer the pantomime away from the old fabulous and knockabout world of fairy-land and into the realm of sentimental—often tearful—realism.[51] In this he was abetted by the novelist and journalist Champfleury, who set himself the task, in the 1840s, of writing "realistic" pantomimes.[52] Among the works he produced were Marquis Pierrot (1847), which offers a plausible explanation for Pierrot's powdered face (he begins working-life as a miller's assistant), and the Pantomime of the Attorney (1865), which casts Pierrot in the prosaic role of an attorney's clerk.

Georges Wague in one of the cantomimes (pantomimes performed to off-stage songs) of Xavier Privas. Poster by Charles Léandre, 1899.

Legrand left the Funambules in 1853 for what was to become his chief venue, the Folies-Nouvelles, which attracted the fashionable and artistic set, unlike the Funambules’ working-class children of paradise. Such an audience was not averse to pantomimic experiment, and at mid-century "experiment" very often meant Realism. (The pre-Bovary Gustave Flaubert wrote a pantomime for the Folies-Nouvelles, Pierrot in the Seraglio [1855], which was never produced.)[53] Legrand often appeared in realistic costume, his chalky face his only concession to tradition, leading some advocates of pantomime, like Gautier, to lament that he was betraying the character of the type.[54]

But it was the Pierrot as conceived by Legrand that had the greatest influence on future mimes. Charles himself eventually capitulated: it was he who played the Pierrot of Champfleury's Pantomime of the Attorney. Like Legrand, Charles's student, the Marseilles mime Louis Rouffe (1849–1885), rarely performed in Pierrot's costume, earning him the epithet "l'Homme Blanc" ("The White Man").[55] His successor Séverin (1863–1930) played Pierrot sentimentally, as a doom-laden soul, a figure far removed from the conception of Deburau père.[56] And one of the last great mimes of the century, Georges Wague (1875–1965), though he began his career in Pierrot's costume, ultimately dismissed Baptiste's work as puerile and embryonic, averring that it was time for Pierrot's demise in order to make way for "characters less conventional, more human."[57] Marcel Marceau's Bip seems a natural, if deliberate, outgrowth of these developments, walking, as he does, a concessionary line between the early fantastic domain of Deburau's Pierrot and the so-called realistic world.

Pantomime and late nineteenth-century art


Popular and literary pantomime
Atelier Nadar: Sarah Bernhardt in Jean Richepin's Pierrot the Murderer, 1883. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
Anon.: Poster for Hanlon-Lees' Superba, 1890-1911. Theatre Collection of the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center.
Jules Chéret: Title-page of Hennique and Huysmans' Pierrot the Skeptic, 1881
Paul Cézanne: Mardi gras (Pierrot and Harlequin), 1888, Pushkin Museum, Moscow

In the 1880s and 1890s, the pantomime reached a kind of apogee, and Pierrot became ubiquitous.[58] Moreover, he acquired a counterpart, Pierrette, who rivaled Columbine for his affections. (She seems to have been especially endearing to Xavier Privas, hailed in 1899 as the "prince of songwriters": several of his songs ["Pierrette Is Dead", "Pierrette's Christmas"] are devoted to her fortunes.) A Cercle Funambulesque was founded in 1888, and Pierrot (sometimes played by female mimes, such as Félicia Mallet) dominated its productions until its demise in 1898.[59] Sarah Bernhardt even donned Pierrot's blouse for Jean Richepin's Pierrot the Murderer (1883).

But French mimes and actors were not the only figures responsible for Pierrot's ubiquity: the English Hanlon brothers (sometimes called the Hanlon-Lees), gymnasts and acrobats who had been schooled in the 1860s in pantomimes from Baptiste's repertoire, traveled (and dazzled) the world well into the twentieth century with their pantomimic sketches and extravaganzas featuring riotously nightmarish Pierrots. The NaturalistsÉmile Zola especially, who wrote glowingly of them—were captivated by their art.[60] Edmond de Goncourt modeled his acrobat-mimes in his The Zemganno Brothers (1879) upon them; J.-K. Huysmans (whose Against Nature [1884] would become Dorian Gray's bible) and his friend Léon Hennique wrote their pantomime Pierrot the Skeptic (1881) after seeing them perform at the Folies Bergère. (And, in turn, Jules Laforgue wrote his pantomime Pierrot the Cut-Up [Pierrot fumiste, 1882] after reading the scenario by Huysmans and Hennique.)[61] It was in part through the enthusiasm that they excited, coupled with the Impressionists’ taste for popular entertainment, like the circus and the music-hall, as well as the new bohemianism that then reigned in artistic quarters like Montmartre (and which was celebrated by such denizens as Adolphe Willette, whose cartoons and canvases are crowded with Pierrots)—it was through all this that Pierrot achieved almost unprecedented currency and visibility towards the end of the century.

Visual arts, fiction, poetry, music, and film

He invaded the visual arts[62]—not only in the work of Willette, but also in the illustrations and posters of Jules Chéret;[63] in the engravings of Odilon Redon (The Swamp Flower: A Sad Human Head [1885]); and in the canvases of Georges Seurat (Pierrot with a White Pipe [Aman-Jean] [1883]; The Painter Aman-Jean as Pierrot [1883]), Léon Comerre (Pierrot [1884]), Henri Rousseau (A Carnival Night [1886]), Paul Cézanne (Mardi gras [Pierrot and Harlequin] [1888]), Fernand Pelez (Grimaces and Miseries a.k.a. The Saltimbanques [1888]), Pablo Picasso (Pierrot and Columbine [1900]), Guillaume Seignac (Pierrot's Embrace [1900]), and Édouard Vuillard (The Black Pierrot [c. 1890]). The mime "Tombre" of Jean Richepin's novel Nice People (Braves Gens [1886]) turned him into a pathetic and alcoholic "phantom"; Paul Verlaine imagined him as a gormandizing naïf in "Pantomime" (1869), then, like Tombre, as a lightning-lit specter in "Pierrot" (1868, pub. 1882).[64] Laforgue put three of the "complaints" of his first published volume of poems (1885) into "Lord" Pierrot's mouth—and dedicated his next book, The Imitation of Our Lady the Moon (1886), completely to Pierrot and his world. (Pierrots were legion among the minor, now-forgotten poets: for samples, see Willette's journal The Pierrot, which appeared between 1888 and 1889, then again in 1891.) In the realm of song, Claude Debussy set both Verlaine's "Pantomime" and Banville's "Pierrot" (1842) to music in 1881 (not published until 1926)—the only precedents among works by major composers being the "Pierrot" section of Telemann's Burlesque Overture (1717–22), Mozart's 1783 "Masquerade" (in which Mozart himself took the role of Harlequin and his brother-in-law, Joseph Lange, that of Pierrot),[65] and the "Pierrot" section of Robert Schumann's Carnival (1835).[66] Even the embryonic art of the motion picture turned to Pierrot before the century was out: he appeared, not only in early celluloid shorts (Georges Méliès's The Nightmare [1896], The Magician [1898]; Alice Guy's Arrival of Pierrette and Pierrot [1900], Pierrette's Amorous Adventures [1900]; Ambroise-François Parnaland's Pierrot's Big Head/Pierrot's Tongue [1900], Pierrot-Drinker [1900]), but also in Emile Reynaud's Praxinoscope production of Poor Pierrot (1892), the first animated movie and the first hand-colored one. (View Poor Pierrot.)


Thus far the discussion has focused on the French pierrotistes, but Pierrot's popularity was by no means confined to France. Wherever "decadence" had taken hold, there he could be found. In Belgium, where the Decadents and Symbolists were as numerous as their French counterparts, Félicien Rops depicted a grinning Pierrot who is witness to an unromantic backstage scene (Blowing Cupid's Nose [1881]) and James Ensor painted Pierrots (and other masks) obsessively, sometimes rendering them prostrate in the ghastly light of dawn (The Strange Masks [1892]), sometimes isolating Pierrot in their midst, his head drooping in despondency (Pierrot's Despair [1892]), sometimes augmenting his company with a smiling, stein-hefting skeleton (Pierrot and Skeleton in Yellow [1893]). Their countryman the poet Albert Giraud also identified intensely with the zanni: the fifty rondels of his Pierrot lunaire (Moonstruck Pierrot [1884]) would inspire several generations of composers (see Pierrot lunaire below), and his verse-play Pierrot-Narcissus (1887) offered a definitive portrait of the solipsistic poet-dreamer. The title of choreographer Joseph Hansen's 1884 ballet, Macabre Pierrot, created in collaboration with the poet Théo Hannon, summed up one of the chief strands of the character's persona for many artists of the era.


Aubrey Beardsley: "The Death of Pierrot", The Savoy, August 1896.

In the England of the Aesthetic Movement, Aubrey Beardsley's drawings attested profound kinship with the figure; Olive Custance (who would marry Oscar Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas) published the poem "Pierrot" in 1897; and Ernest Dowson wrote the verse-play Pierrot of the Minute (1897, illustrated by Beardsley), to which the composer Sir Granville Bantock would later contribute an orchestral prologue (1908). One of the gadflies of Aestheticism, W. S. Gilbert, introduced Harlequin and Pierrot as love-struck twin brothers into Eyes and No Eyes, or The Art of Seeing (1875), for which Thomas German Reed wrote the music. And he ensured that neither character, contrary to many an Aesthetic Pierrot, would be amorously disappointed.

In a more bourgeois vein, Ethel Wright painted Bonjour, Pierrot! (a greeting to a dour clown sitting disconsolate with his dog) in 1893. And the Pierrot of popular taste also spawned a uniquely English entertainment. In 1891, the singer and banjoist Clifford Essex returned from France enamored of the Pierrots he had seen there and resolved to create a troupe of English Pierrot entertainers. Thus were born the seaside Pierrots (in conical hats and sometimes black or colored costume) who, as late as the 1950s, sang, danced, juggled, and joked on the piers of Brighton and Margate and Blackpool.[67] Obviously inspired by these troupes were the Will Morris Pierrots, named after their Birmingham founder. They originated in the Smethwick area in the late 1890s and played to large audiences in many parks, theaters, and pubs in the Midlands. It was doubtless these popular entertainers who inspired the academic Walter Westley Russell to commit The Pierrots (c. 1900) to canvas.

Pierrot and Pierrette (1896) was a specimen of early English film from the director Birt Acres. For an account of the English mime troupe The Hanlon Brothers, see France above.


Paul Hoecker: Pierrots with Pipes, c. 1900. Location unknown.

In Germany, Frank Wedekind introduced the femme-fatale of his first "Lulu" play, Earth Spirit (1895), in a Pierrot costume; and when the Austrian composer Alban Berg drew upon the play for his opera Lulu (unfinished; first perf. 1937), he retained the scene of Lulu's meretricious pierroting. In a similarly (and paradoxically) revealing spirit, the painter Paul Hoecker put cheeky young men into Pierrot costumes to ape their complacent burgher elders, smoking their pipes (Pierrots with Pipes [c. 1900]) and swilling their champagne (Waiting Woman [c. 1895]). (See also Pierrot lunaire below.)


Canio's Pagliaccio in the famous opera (1892) by Leoncavallo is close enough to a Pierrot to deserve a mention here. Much less well-known is the musical "mimodrama" of Vittorio Monti, Noël de Pierrot a.k.a. A Clown's Christmas (1900), its score set to a pantomime by Fernand Beissier, one of the founders of the Cercle Funambulesque.[68] (Monti would go on to claim his rightful fame by celebrating another spiritual outsider, much akin to Pierrot—the Gypsy. His Csárdás [c. 1904], like Pagliacci, has found a secure place in the standard musical repertoire.)

North America

Pierrot and his fellow masks were late in coming to America, which, unlike England, Russia, and the countries of continental Europe, had had no early exposure to Commedia dell'Arte.[69] The Hanlon-Lees made their first U.S. appearance in 1858, and their subsequent tours, well into the twentieth century, of scores of cities throughout the country accustomed their audiences to their fantastic, acrobatic Pierrots.[70] But the Pierrot that would leave the deepest imprint upon the American imagination was that of the French and English Decadents, a creature who quickly found his home in the so-called little magazines of the 1890s (as well as in the poster-art that they spawned). One of the earliest and most influential of these in America, The Chap-Book (1894–98), which featured a story about Pierrot by the aesthete Percival Pollard in its second number,[71] was soon host to Beardsley-inspired Pierrots drawn by E.B. Bird and Frank Hazenplug.[72] (The Canadian poet Bliss Carman should also be mentioned for his contribution to Pierrot's dissemination in mass-market publications like Harper's.)[73] Like most things associated with the Decadence, such exotica discombobulated the mainstream American public, which regarded the little magazines in general as "freak periodicals" and declared, through one of its mouthpieces, Munsey's Magazine, that "each new representative of the species is, if possible, more preposterous than the last."[74]

The fin-de-siècle world in which this Pierrot resided was clearly at odds with the reigning American Realist and Naturalist aesthetic (though such figures as Ambrose Bierce and John LaFarge were mounting serious challenges to it). It is in fact jarring to find the champion of American prose Realism, William Dean Howells, introducing Pastels in Prose (1890), a volume of French prose-poems translated by Stuart Merrill and containing a Paul Margueritte pantomime, The Death of Pierrot,[75] with words of warm praise (and even congratulations to each poet for failing “to saddle his reader with a moral”).[76] So uncustomary was the French Aesthetic viewpoint that, when Pierrot made an appearance in an eponymous pantomime (1893) by Alfred Thompson, set to music by the American composer Laura Sedgwick Collins, The New York Times covered it as an event, even though it was only a student production. It was found to be “pleasing” because, in part, it was “odd”.[77] Not until the first decade of the next century, when the great (and popular) fantasist Maxfield Parrish worked his magic on the figure, would Pierrot be comfortably naturalized in America.

Central and South America

Inspired by the French Symbolists, especially Verlaine, Rubén Darío, the Nicaraguan poet widely acknowledged as the founder of Spanish-American literary Modernism (modernismo), placed Pierrot ("sad poet and dreamer") in opposition to Columbine ("fatal woman", the arch-materialistic "lover of rich silk garments, golden jewelry, pearls and diamonds")[78] in his 1898 prose-poem The Eternal Adventure of Pierrot and Columbine.


In the last year of the century, Pierrot appeared in a Russian ballet, Harlequin's Millions a.k.a. Harlequinade (1900), its libretto and choreography by Marius Petipa, its music by Riccardo Drigo, its dancers the members of St. Petersburg's Imperial Ballet. It would set the stage for the later and greater triumphs of Pierrot in the productions of the Ballets Russes.

Early twentieth century (1901-1950)

The Pierrot bequeathed to the twentieth century had acquired a rich and wide range of personae. He was the naïve butt of practical jokes and amorous scheming (Gautier); the prankish but innocent waif (Banville, Verlaine, Willette); the narcissistic dreamer clutching at the moon, which could symbolize many things, from spiritual perfection to death (Giraud, Laforgue, Willette, Dowson); the frail, neurasthenic, often doom-ridden soul (Richepin, Beardsley); the clumsy, though ardent, lover, who wins Columbine's heart,[79] or murders her in frustration (Margueritte); the cynical and misogynous dandy, sometimes dressed in black (Huysmans/Hennique, Laforgue); the Christ-like victim of the martyrdom that is Art (Giraud, Willette, Ensor); the androgynous and unholy creature of corruption (Richepin, Wedekind); the madcap master of chaos (the Hanlon-Lees); the purveyor of hearty and wholesome fun (the English pier Pierrots)—and various combinations of these. Like the earlier masks of Commedia dell’Arte, Pierrot now knew no national boundaries. Thanks to the international gregariousness of Modernism, he would soon be found everywhere.[80]

In this section, with the exception of productions by the Ballets Russes (which will be listed alphabetically by title) and of musical settings of Pierrot lunaire (which will be discussed under a separate heading), all works are identified by artist; all artists are grouped by nationality, then listed alphabetically. Multiple works by artists are listed chronologically.

Non-operatic works for stage and screen

Plays, playlets, pantomimes, and revues

Vsevolod Meyerhold dressing as Pierrot for his own production of Alexander Blok's Fairground Booth, 1906.

Ballet, cabaret, and Pierrot troupes

Alexander Vertinsky as Pierrot. Poster by pre-revolutionary unknown artist.
Asta Nielsen as Pierrot in Urban Gad's Behind Comedy's Mask (1913). Poster by Ernst Deutsch-Dryden.
  • GermanSchlemmer, Oskar, and Paul Hindemith: Triadic Ballet (1922).
  • RussianFokine, Michel: The Immortal Pierrot (1925; ballet, premiered in New York City); Legat, Nikolai and Sergei: The Fairy Doll Pas de trois (1903; ballet; added to production of Josef Bayer's ballet Die Puppenfee in St. Petersburg; music by Riccardo Drigo; revived in 1912 as Les Coquetteries de Columbine, with Anna Pavlova).
    • Vertinsky, Alexander: Cabaret singer (1889–1957)—became known as the "Russian Pierrot" after debuting around 1916 with "Pierrot's doleful ditties"—songs that chronicled tragic incidents in the life of Pierrot. Dressed in black, his face powdered white, he performed world-wide, settling for nine years in Paris in 1923 to play the Montmartre cabarets. One of his admirers, Konstantin Sokolsky, assumed his Pierrot persona when he debuted as a singer in 1928.
  • See also Pierrot lunaire below.


Visual arts

Works on canvas, paper, and board

Maxfield Parrish: The Lantern-Bearers, 1908. Appeared as frontispiece of Collier's Weekly, December 10, 1910.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir: White Pierrot, 1901/1902. Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit.
Leo Rauth: "A Welcome Guest", Illustrite Zeitung, February 15, 1912.
Zinaida Serebriakova: Self-Portrait as Pierrot, 1911. Location unknown.
Konstantin Somov: Lady and Pierrot, 1910. The Picture Gallery, Odessa, Ukraine.
Vasilij Suhaev and Alexandre Yakovlev: Harlequin and Pierrot (Self-Portraits of and by Suhaev and A. Yakovlev), 1914. Russian State Museum, St. Petersburg.
Juan Gris: Pierrot, 1919. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Gris: Pierrot, 1921. National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.
  • AmericanBloch, Albert (worked mainly in Germany as member of Der Blaue Reiter): Many works, including Harlequinade (1911), Piping Pierrot (1911), Harlequin and Pierrot (1913), Three Pierrots and Harlequin (1914); Bradley, Will: Various posters and illustrations (see, e.g., "Banning" under Poetry below); Heintzelman, Arthur William: Pierrot (n.d.); Hopper, Edward: Soir Bleu (1914); Kuhn, Walt: The White Clown (1929); Parrish, Maxfield: Pierrot's Serenade (1908), The Lantern-Bearers (1908), Her Window (1922); Sloan, John: Old Clown Making Up (1910); Yasuo Kuniyoshi (born in Japan): The Clown (1948).
  • AustrianKubin, Alfred: Death of Pierrot (1922); Schiele, Egon: Pierrot (Self-Portrait) (1914).
  • BelgianEnsor, James: Pierrot and Skeletons (1905), Pierrot and Skeletons (1907), Intrigued Masks (1930); Henrion, Armand: Series of self-portraits as Pierrot (1920s).
  • BrazilianDi Cavalcanti: Pierrot (1924).
  • BritishKnight, Laura: Clown (n.d.); Sickert, Walter: Pierrot and Woman Embracing (1903–1904), Brighton Pierrots (1915; two versions).
  • CanadianManigault, Middleton (worked mainly in U.S.A.): The Clown (1912), Eyes of Morning (Nymph and Pierrot) (1913).
  • CzechKubišta, Bohumil: Pierrot (1911).
  • DanishNielsen, Kay (worked in England 1911-16): Pierrot (c. 1911).
  • FrenchAlleaume, Ludovic: Poor Pierrot (1915); Derain, André: Pierrot (1923–1924), Harlequin and Pierrot (c. 1924); Gabain, Ethel: Many works, including Pierrot (1916), Pierrot's Love-letter (1917), Unfaithful Pierrot (1919); La Fresnaye, Roger de: Study for "Pierrot" (1921); La Touche, Gaston de: Pierrot's Greeting (n.d.); Laurens, Henri: Pierrot (c. 1922); Matisse, Henri: The Burial of Pierrot (1943); Mossa, Gustav-Adolf: Pierrot and the Chimera (1906), Pierrot Takes His Leave (1906), Pierrot and His Doll (1907); Picabia, Francis: Pierrot (early 1930s); Renoir, Pierre-Auguste: White Pierrot (1901/1902); Rouault, Georges: Many works, including White Pierrot (1911), Pierrot (1920), Pierrot (1937–1938), Pierrot (or Pierrette) (1939), Aristocratic Pierrot (1942), The Wise Pierrot (1943), Blue Pierrots with Bouquet (c. 1946).
  • GermanBeckmann, Max: Pierrot and Mask (1920), Before the Masked Ball (1922), Carnival (1943); Campendonk, Heinrich: Pierrot with Mask (1916), Pierrot (with Serpent) (1923), Pierrot with Sunflower (1925); Dix, Otto: Masks in Ruins (1946); Faure, Amandus: Standing Artist and Pierrot (1909); Heckel, Erich: Dead Pierrot (1914); Hofer, Karl: Circus Folk (c. 1921), Masquerade a.k.a. Three Masks (1922); Leman, Ulrich: The Juggler (1913); Macke, August: Many works, including Ballets Russes (1912), Clown (Pierrot) (1913), Face of Pierrot (1913), Pierrot and Woman (1913); Mammen, Jeanne: The Death of Pierrot (n.d.); Nolde, Emil: Pierrot and White Lilies (c. 1911), Women and Pierrot (1917); Rauth, Leo: Many works, including Pierrot and Columbine (1911), A Welcome Guest (1912), Confession of Love (1912), In the Spotlight (1914); Schlemmer, Oskar: Pierrot and Two Figures (1923); Werner, Theodor: Pierrot lunaire (1942).
  • ItalianModigliani, Amedeo (worked mainly in France): Pierrot (1915); Severini, Gino: Many works, including The Two Pierrots (1922), Pierrot (1923), Pierrot the Musician (1924), The Music Lesson (1928–1929), The Carnival (1955).
  • MexicanCantú, Federico: Many works, including The Death of Pierrot (1930–1934), Prelude to the Triumph of Death (1934), The Triumph of Death (1939); Montenegro, Roberto: Skull Pierrot (1945); Orozco, José Clemente: The Clowns of War Arguing in Hell (1940s); Zárraga, Ángel: Woman and Puppet (1909).
  • RussianChagall, Marc (worked mainly in France): Pierrot with Umbrella (1926); Serebriakova, Zinaida: Self-Portrait as Pierrot (1911); Somov, Konstantin: Lady and Pierrot (1910), Curtain Design for Moscow Free Theater (1913), Italian Comedy (1914; two versions); Suhaev, Vasilij, and Alexandre Yakovlev: Harlequin and Pierrot (Self-Portraits of and by Suhaev and A. Yakovlev) (1914); Tchelitchew, Pavel (worked mainly in France and U.S.A.): Pierrot (1930).
  • SpanishCarmona, Fernando Briones: Melancholy Pierrot (1945); Dalí, Salvador: Pierrot with Guitar (1924), Pierrot Playing the Guitar (1925); Gris, Juan (worked mainly in France): Many works, including Pierrot (1919), Pierrot (1921), Pierrot Playing Guitar (1923), Pierrot with Book (1924); Picasso, Pablo (worked mainly in France): Many works, including Pierrot (1918), Pierrot and Harlequin (1920), Three Musicians (1921; two versions), Portrait of Adolescent as Pierrot (1922), Paul as Pierrot (1925); Valle, Evaristo: Pierrot (1909).
  • SwissKlee, Paul (worked mainly in Germany): Many works, including Head of a Young Pierrot (1912), Captive Pierrot (1923), Pierrot Lunaire (1924), Pierrot Penitent (1939).
  • UkrainianAndriienko-Nechytailo, Mykhailo (worked mainly in France): Pierrot with Heart (1921).

Sculptures and constructions

  • American (U.S.A.)Cornell, Joseph: A Dressing Room for Gilles (1939).
  • FrenchVermare, André-César: Pierrot (n.d.; terracotta).
  • GermanHub, Emil: Pierrot (c. 1920; bronze).
  • LithuanianLipchitz, Jacques (worked mainly in France and U.S.A.): Pierrot (1909), Detachable Figure (Pierrot) (1915), Pierrot with Clarinet (1919), Seated Pierrot (1922), Pierrot (1925), Pierrot with Clarinet (1926), Pierrot Escapes (1927).
  • UkrainianArchipenko, Alexander (worked mainly in France and U.S.A.): Carrousel Pierrot (1913), Pierrot (1942); Ekster, Aleksandra (worked mainly in France): Pierrot (1926).




  • American (U.S.A.)Carryl, Guy Wetmore: "Caffiard, Deus ex Machina" (1902; originally "Pierrot and Pierrette").
  • AustrianMusil, Robert: The Man Without Qualities (1930, 1933, 1943; when main character, Ulrich, meets twin sister, Agatha, for first time after their father's death, they are both dressed as Pierrots).
  • BritishAshton, Helen: Pierrot in Town (1913); Barrington, Pamela: White Pierrot (1932); Callaghan, Stella: "Pierrot and the Black Cat" (1921), Pierrot of the World (1923); Deakin, Dorothea: The Poet and the Pierrot (1905); Herring, Paul: The Pierrots on the Pier: A Holiday Entertainment (1914); Priestley, J.B.: The Good Companions (1929; plot follows fortunes of a Pierrot troupe, The Dinky Doos; has had many adaptations, for stage, screen, TV, and radio).
  • CzechKožík, František: The Greatest of the Pierrots (1939; novel about J.-G. Deburau).
  • FrenchAlain-Fournier: Le Grand Meaulnes a.k.a. The Wanderer (1913; Ganache the Pierrot is an important symbolic figure); Champsaur, Félicien: Lulu (1901),[85] Le Jazz des Masques (1928); Gyp: Mon ami Pierrot (1921); Queneau, Raymond: Pierrot mon ami (1942); Rivollet, Georges: "The Pierrot" (1914).


Songs and song-cycles

  • American (U.S.A.)Goetzl, Anselm: "Pierrot's Serenade" (1915; voice and piano; text by Frederick H. Martens); Johnston, Jesse: "Pierrot: Trio for Women's Voices" (1911; vocal trio and piano); Kern, Jerome: "Poor Pierrot" (1931; voice and orchestra; lyrics by Otto Harbach). For settings of poems by Langston Hughes and Sara Teasdale, see also this note.[84]
  • BritishCoward, Sir Noël: "Parisian Pierrot" (1922; voice and orchestra); Scott, Cyril: "Pierrot amoureux" (1912; voice and piano), "Pierrot and the Moon Maiden" (1912; voice and piano; text by Ernest Dowson from Pierrot of the Minute [see above under England]); Shaw, Martin: "At Columbine's Grave" (1922; voice and piano; lyrics by Bliss Carman) [see above under Poetry]).
  • FrenchLannoy, Robert: "Pierrot the Street-Waif" (1938; choir with mixed voices and piano; text by Paul Verlaine); Poulenc, Francis: "Pierrot" (1933; voice and piano; text by Théodore de Banville); Privas, Xavier: Many works, in both Chansons vécues (1903; "Unfaithful Pierrot", "Pierrot Sings", etc.; voice and piano; texts by composer) and Chanson sentimentale (1906; "Pierrot's All Hallows", "Pierrot's Heart", etc.; voice and piano; texts by composer); Rhynal, Camille de: "The Poor Pierrot" (1906; voice and piano; text by R. Roberts).
  • GermanKünneke, Eduard: [Five] Songs of Pierrot (1911; voice and piano; texts by Arthur Kahane).
  • ItalianBixio, Cesare Andrea: "So Cries Pierrot" (1925; voice and piano; text by composer); Bussotti, Sylvano: "Pierrot" (1949; voice and harp).
  • JapaneseOsamu Shimizu: Moonlight and Pierrot Suite (1948/49; male chorus; text by Horiguchi Daigaku).
  • See also Pierrot lunaire below.

Instrumental works (solo and ensemble)

  • American (U.S.A.)Abelle, Victor: "Pierrot and Pierrette" (1906; piano); Foote, Arthur: "Pierrot" and "Pierrette", from Five Bagatelles (c. 1894; piano); Hoiby, Lee: "Pierrot" (1950; #2 of Night Songs for voice and piano; text by Adelaide Crapsey [see above under Poetry]); Neidlinger, William Harold: Piano Sketches (1905; #5: "Pierrot"; #7: "Columbine"); Oehmler, Leo: "Pierrot and Pierrette – Petite Gavotte" (1905; violin and piano).
  • BelgianStrens, Jules: "Mon ami Pierrot" (1926; piano).
  • BritishScott, Cyril: "Two Pierrot Pieces" (1904; piano), "Pierrette" (1912; piano).
  • BrazilianNazareth, Ernesto: "Pierrot" (1915; piano: Brazilian tango).
  • CzechMartinů, Bohuslav: "Pierrot's Serenade", from Marionettes, III (c. 1913, pub. 1923; piano).
  • FrenchDebussy, Claude: Sonata for Cello and Piano (1915; Debussy had considered calling it "Pierrot angry at the moon"); Popy, Francis: Pierrot Sleeps (n.d.; violin and piano); Salzedo, Carlos (worked mainly in U.S.A.): "Pierrot is Sad", from Sketches for Harpist Beginners, Series II (1942; harp); Satie, Erik: "Pierrot's Dinner" (1909; piano).
  • GermanKaun, Hugo: Pierrot and Columbine: Four Episodes (1907; piano).
  • HungarianVecsey, Franz von: "Pierrot's Grief" (1933; violin and piano).
  • ItalianDrigo, Riccardo (worked mainly in Russia): "Pierrot's Song: Chanson-Serenade for Piano" (1922); Pierrot and Columbine" (1929; violin and piano). These pieces are re-workings of the famous "Serenade" from his score for the ballet Les Millions d'Arlequin (see Russia above).
  • SwissBachmann, Alberto: Children's Scenes (1906; #2: "Little Pierrot"; violin and piano).

Works for orchestra

Operas, operettas, and zarzuelas

Late twentieth/early twenty-first centuries (1951- )

In the latter half of the twentieth century, Pierrot continued to appear in the art of the Modernists—or at least of the long-lived among them: Chagall, Ernst, Goleminov, Hopper, Miró, Picasso—as well as in the work of their younger followers, such as Gerard Dillon, Indrek Hirv, and Roger Redgate. And when film arrived at a pinnacle of auteurism in the 1950s and '60s, aligning it with the earlier Modernist aesthetic, some of its most celebrated directors—Bergman, Fellini, Godard—turned naturally to Pierrot.

But Pierrot's most prominent place in the late twentieth century, as well as in the early twenty-first, has been in popular, not High Modernist, art. As the entries below tend to testify, Pierrot is most visible (as in the eighteenth century) in unapologetically popular genres—in circus acts and street-mime sketches, TV programs and Japanese anime, comic books and graphic novels, children's books and "young adult" fiction (especially fantasy and, in particular, vampire fiction), Hollywood films, and pop and rock music. He generally assumes one of three avatars: the sweet and innocent child (as in the children's books), the poignantly lovelorn and ineffectual being (as, notably, in the Jerry Cornelius novels of Michael Moorcock), or the somewhat sinister and depraved outsider (as in David Bowie's various experiments, or Rachel Caine's vampire novels, or the S&M lyrics of the English rock group Placebo).

The format of the lists that follow is the same as that of the previous section, except for the Western pop-music singers and groups. These are listed alphabetically by first name, not last (e.g., "Stevie Wonder", not "Wonder, Stevie").

Non-operatic works for stage and screen

Plays, pantomimes, variety shows, circus, and dance

Films, television, and anime

David Bowie as Pierrot on cover of "Ashes to Ashes" single, 1980

Visual arts

  • American (U.S.A.)Dellosso, Gabriela Gonzalez: Many works, most notably Garrik (n.d.); Hopper, Edward: Two Comedians (1966); Longo, Robert: Pressure (1982/83); Nauman, Bruce: No No New Museum (1987; videotape); Serrano, Andres: A History of Sex (Head) (1996).
  • ArgentinianOrtolan, Marco: Venetian Clown (n.d.); Soldi, Raúl: Pierrot (1969), Three Pierrots (n.d.).
  • AustrianAbsolon, Kurt: Cycle of Pierrot works (1951).
  • BritishHockney, David: Troop of Actors and Acrobats (1980; one of stage designs for Satie's Parade [see under Ballet, cabaret, and Pierrot troupes above]), paintings on Munich museum walls for group exhibition on Pierrot (1995); Self, Colin: Pierrot Blowing Dandelion Clock (1997).
  • ChileanBravo, Claudio: The Ladies and the Pierrot (1963).
  • ColombianBotero, Fernando: Pierrot (2007), Pierrot lunaire (2007), Blue Pierrot (2007), White Pierrot (2008).
  • GermanAlt, Otmar: Pierrot (n.d.).; Ernst, Max (worked mainly in France): Mon ami Pierrot (1974); Lüpertz, Markus: Pierrot lunaire: Chair (1984).
  • IrishDillon, Gerard: Many works, including Bird and Bird Canvas (c. 1958), And the Time Passes (1962), The Brothers (1967), Beginnings (1968), Encounter (c. 1968), Red Nude with Loving Pierrot (c. 1970); Robinson, Markey: Many works.
  • RussianChagall, Marc (worked mainly in France): Circus Scene (late 1960s/early 1970s), Pierrot lunaire (1969).
  • SpanishMiró, Joan (worked mainly in France and U.S.A.): Pierrot le fou (1964); Picasso, Pablo (worked mainly in France): Many works, including Pierrot with Newspaper and Bird (1969), various versions of Pierrot and Harlequin (1970, 1971), and metal cut-outs: Head of Pierrot (c. 1961), Pierrot (1961); Roig, Bernardí: Pierrot le fou (2009; polyester and neon lighting); Ruiz-Pipó, Manolo: Many works, including Orlando (Young Pierrot) (1978), Pierrot Lunaire (n.d.), Lunar Poem (n.d.).
  • Commercial art. A variety of Pierrot-themed items, including figurines, jewelry, posters, and bedclothes, are sold commercially.[86]




  • American (U.S.A.)Caine, Rachel: Feast of Fools (Morganville Vampires, Book 4) (2008; vampire Myrnin dresses as Pierrot); Dennison, George: "A Tale of Pierrot" (1987); DePaola, Tomie: Sing, Pierrot, Sing: A Picture Book in Mime (1983; children's book, illustrated by the author); Hoban, Russell (has lived in England since 1969): Crocodile and Pierrot: A See-the-Story Book (1975; children's book, illustrated by Sylvie Selig).
  • AustrianFrischmuth, Barbara: ‘’From the Life of Pierrot’’ (1982).
  • BelgianNorac, Carl: Pierrot d'amour (2002; children's book, illustrated by Jean-Luc Englebert).
  • BrazilianAntunes, Ana Claudia: The Pierrot's Love (2009).
  • BritishGaiman, Neil (has lived in U.S.A. since 1992): "Harlequin Valentine" (1999), Harlequin Valentine (2001; graphic novel, illustrated by John Bolton); Greenland, Colin: "A Passion for Lord Pierrot" (1990); Moorcock, Michael: The English Assassin and The Condition of Muzak (1972, 1977; hero Jerry Cornelius morphs with increasing frequency into role of Pierrot), "Feu Pierrot" (1978); Stevenson, Helen: Pierrot Lunaire (1995).
  • CanadianMajor, Henriette: The Vampire and the Pierrot (2000; children's book); Laurent McAllister: "Le Pierrot diffracté" ("The Diffracted Pierrot" [1992]).
  • FrenchBoutet, Gérard: Pierrot and the Secret of the Flint Stones (1999; children's book, illustrated by Jean-Claude Pertuzé); Dodé, Antoine: Pierrot Lunaire (2011; vol. 1 of projected graphic-novel trilogy, images by the author); Tournier, Michel: "Pierrot, or The Secrets of the Night" (1978).
  • JapaneseKōtaro Isaka: A Pierrot a.k.a. Gravity Clown (2003; a film based on the novel was released in 2009).
  • PolishLobel, Anita (naturalized U.S. citizen 1956): Pierrot's ABC Garden (1992; children's book, illustrated by author).
  • RussianBaranov, Dimitri: Black Pierrot (1991).
  • South KoreanJung Young-moon: Moon-sick Pierrot (2013).

Comic books

  • American (U.S.A.)DC Comics: Batman R.I.P.: Midnight in the House of Hurt (2008 [#676]; features Pierrot Lunaire—who subsequently appears in nine other issues).[87]
  • Japanese (manga)Katsura Hoshino: D. Gray-man, serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump and Jump Square (2004–present; main character, Allen Walker, is "the pierrot who will cause the akuma [i.e, demons] to fall"; anime based on manga released 2006–2008); Takashi Hashiguchi: Yakitate!! Japan (Freshly Baked!! Japan [Jap. pan = bread]), serialized in Shogakukan's Shōnen Sunday (2002–2007; features a clown-character named Pierrot Bolneze, heir to the throne of Monaco; anime based on manga released 2004–2006).


Western classical

  • American (U.S.A.)Austin, Larry: Variations: Beyond Pierrot (1995; voice, small ensemble, live computer-processed sound, and computer-processed prerecorded tape); Fairouz, Mohammed: Pierrot Lunaire (2013; tenor and Pierrot ensemble; texts by Wayne Koestenbaum [see above under Poetry]); Schachter, Michael: "Pierrot (Heart)" (2011; voice and piano; text by Langston Hughes [see above under Poetry]).
  • BritishChristie, Michael: "Pierrot" (1998; voice and small ensemble; text by John Drinkwater [see above under Poetry]); St. Johanser, Joe: "Pierrot" (2003; from song-cycle Pierrot Alone; voice and chamber orchestra; text by John Drinkwater [see above under Poetry]).
  • PolishSzczeniowski, Boleslaw (worked mainly in Canada): "Pierrot" (1958; voice; text by Wilfrid Lemoine).
  • JapaneseNorio Suzuki: "Pierrot Clown" (1995; women's chorus).
  • American (U.S.A.)Brown, Earle: Tracking Pierrot (1992; chamber ensemble); Wharton, Geoffry (works mainly in Germany): ‘’Five Pierrot Tangos’’ (n.d.; violin/viola, flute, piano/synthesizer, cello, clarinet, and voice).
  • ArgentinianFranzetti, Carlos: Pierrot and Columbine (2012; small ensemble and string orchestra).
  • AustrianHerf, Franz Richter: "Pierrot" (1955; piano).
  • BritishBeamish, Sally: Commedia (1990; mixed quintet; theater piece without actors, in which Pierrot is portrayed by violin); Biberian, Gilbert: Variations and Fugue on "Au Clair de la Lune" (1967; wind quartet), Pierrot: A Ballet (1978; guitar duo); Musgrave, Thea, Pierrot (1985; for clarinet [Columbine], violin [Pierrot], and piano [Harlequin]; inspired dance by Jennifer Muller [see above under Plays, variety shows, circus, and dance]); Redgate, Roger: Pierrot on the Stage of Desire (1998; for Pierrot ensemble).
  • BulgarianGoleminov, Marin: "Pierrot", from Five Impressions (1959; piano).
  • CanadianLongtin, Michel: The Death of Pierrot (1972; tape-recorder).
  • DutchBoer, Eduard de (a.k.a. Alexander Comitas): Pierrot: Scherzo for String Orchestra (1992).
  • FinnishTuomela, Tapio: Pierrot: Quintet No. 2 for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (2004).
  • FrenchDuhamel, Antoine: Pierrot le fou: Four Pieces for Orchestra (1965/66); Françaix, Jean: Pierrot, or The Secrets of the Night (1980; ballet, libretto by Michel Tournier; see above under Fiction); Lancen, Serge: Masquerade: For Brass Quintet and Wind Orchestra (1986; #3: "Pierrot"); Naulais, Jérôme: The Moods of Pierrot (n.d.; flute and piano).
  • GermanKirchner, Volker David: Pierrot's Gallows Songs (2001; clarinet); Kühmstedt, Paul: Dance-Visions: Burlesque Suite (1978; #3: "Pierrot and Pierrette").
  • HungarianPapp, Lajos: Pierrot Dreams: Four Pieces for Accordion (1993).
  • ItalianGuarnieri, Adriano: Pierrot Suite (1980; three chamber ensembles), Pierrot Pierrot! (1980; flutes, celesta, percussion); Paradiso, Michele: Pierrot: Ballet for Piano (in Four Hands) and Orchestra (2008); Pirola, Carlo: Story of Pierrot (n.d.; brass band); Stuppner, Hubert: Pierrot and Pierrette (1984; ballet, libretto by Arthur Schnitzler [see The Veil of Pierrette under Plays, playlets, pantomimes, and revues]); Vidale, Piero: Pierrot's Dream: Four Fantasy Impressions (1957; orchestra).
  • RussianKoshkin, Nikita: "Pierrot and Harlequin", from Masquerades, II (1988; guitar); Voronov, Grigori: Pierrot and Harlequin (n.d. [recorded 2006]; saxophone and piano).
  • SwissGaudibert, Éric: Pierrot, to the table! or The Poet's Supper (2003; percussion, accordion, saxophone, horn, piano).
  • UruguayanPasquet, Luis (emigrated to Finland 1974): Triangle of Love (n.d.; #1: “Pierrot”; piano and brass band).


Group names and costumes
  • AmericanBob Dylan appeared occasionally in whiteface in his Rolling Thunder Revue (1975), partly in homage to the Barrault/Deburau Pierrot of Children of Paradise;[88] Lady Gaga appears as Pierrot on the cover of her single "Applause" from her album Artpop (2013); Michael Jackson appears as Pierrot on the cover of the Michael Jackson Mega Box (2009), a DVD collection of interviews with the singer.
  • BritishDavid Bowie dressed as Pierrot for the video of Ashes to Ashes (1980) and for the sleeve of his album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980); Leo Sayer dressed as Pierrot on tour following the release of his first album, Silverbird (1973); Robots in Disguise: The Tears (2008), a video directed by Graeme Pearce, features black-suited Pierrots involved in love triangle.
  • HungarianPierrot's Dream was a rock band performing from 1985 to 1995; its singer-founder Tamás Z. Marosi often appeared in a clown half-mask.
  • ItalianPierrot Lunaire was a progressive rock/folk band.
  • JapaneseKözi often wore a Pierrot costume while a member of the visual rock band Malice Mizer (1992–2001); Pierrot was a rock band active from 1994 to 2006.
  • RussianCabaret Pierrot le Fou is a cabaret-noir group formed by Sergey Vasilyev in 2009; The Moon Pierrot was a conceptual rock band active from 1985 to 1992; it released its English-language studio album The Moon Pierrot L.P. in 1991 (a second album, Whispers & Shadows, recorded in 1992, was not released until 2013).
Songs, albums, and rock musicals
  • American (U.S.A.)Joe Dassin (worked mainly in France): "Pauvre Pierrot" ("Poor Pierrot"), from Elle était oh!... (1971); Thomas Nöla et son Orchestre: "Les Pierrots", in Soundtrack to the Doctor (2006).
  • AustralianKatie Noonan and Elixir: "Pierrot", from First Seed Ripening (2011); The Seekers: "The Carnival Is Over" (1965: "But the joys of love are fleeting/For Pierrot and Columbine").
  • BelgianSly-Dee: Histoire de Pierrot (Pierrot's Story [1994]).
  • BrazilianLos Hermanos: "Pierrot", from Los Hermanos (1999); Marina Lima: Pierrot de Brasil (1998).
  • BritishAli Campbell: "Nothing Ever Changes (Pierrot)", from Flying High (2009); David Bowie: Pierrot in Turquoise (1993; includes following songs from the film of the same title: "Threepenny Pierrot", "Columbine", "The Mirror", "When I Live My Dream [1 & 2]"); Michael Moorcock and the Deep Fix: "Birthplace of Harlequin", "Columbine Confused", "Pierrot's Song of Positive Thinking", and "Pierrot in the Roof Garden", from The Entropy Tango and Gloriana Demo Sessions (2008); Petula Clark: "Pierrot pendu" ("Hanged Pierrot"), from Hello Mister Brown (1966); Placebo: "Pierrot the Clown", from Meds (2006); Rick Wakeman: "The Dancing Pierrot", from The Art in Music Trilogy (1999); Soft Machine: "Thank You Pierrot Lunaire", from Volume Two (1969).
  • CzechVáclav Patejdl: Grand Pierrot (1995; rock musical).
  • DutchBonnie St. Claire (nl) : "Pierrot" (1980).
  • FrenchAlain Kan: "Au pays de Pierrot" ("In Pierrot Country" [1973]); Chantal Goya: "Les pierrots de Paris" and "Pierrot tout blanc" ("Pure White Pierrot"), in Monsieur le Chat Botté (1982); Danielle Licari: "Les Chansons de Pierrot" (1981); Guy Béart: "Pierrot la tendresse" ("Pierrot the Tender"), from Béart à l'université de Louvain (1974); Gérard Lenorman: "Pierrot chanteur", from Le Soleil des Tropiques (1983); Jacques Dutronc: "Où est-il l'ami Pierrot?" ("Where's Friend Pierrot?"), from L'intégrale les Cactus (2004); Loïc Lantoine: "Pierrot", from Tout est calme (2006); Maxime Le Forestier: "Le Fantôme de Pierrot" ("Pierrot's Ghost"), from Hymne à sept temps (1976); Michèle Torr: “Dis Pierrot” (“Say Pierrot”), from film Une fille nommée amour (1969); Mireille Mathieu: "Mon copain Pierrot" ("My Pal Pierrot" [1967]); Pascal Danel: "Pierrot le sait" ("Pierrot Knows" [1966]); Pierre Perret: Le Monde de Pierrot (The World of Pierrot [2005]; double album); Renaud: "Chanson pour Pierrot", from Ma Gonzesse (1979).
  • ItalianBandabardò: "La fine di Pierrot" ("The End of Pierrot"), from Tre passi avanti (2004); Gigi Finizio: "Pierrot", from A te donna (1984); Litfiba: "Pierrot e la luna" ("Pierrot and the Moon"), from 17 RE (1987); Matia Bazar: "Mio bel Pierrot" ("My Lovely Pierrot"), from Il tempo del sole (1980); Novembre: "Come Pierrot" ("Like Pierrot"), from Novembrine Waltz (2001); Patty Pravo: "Come un Pierrot" ("Like a Pierrot" [1974]); Pierrot Lunaire: Pierrot Lunaire (1974).
  • JapaneseAlcoholic Kidz: "Pierrot" (2009); Aya Kamiki: "Pierrot" (2006); Berryz Kobo: "Kokuhaku no Funsui Hiroba" ("Fountain Plaza of My Confession" [2007]; contains lyric watashi piero[89] ["I am Pierrot"]); Hatsune Miku: からくりピエロ (Karakuri Piero) (2011; Vocaloid; text by 40meterP); Mothy a.k.a. Akuno-P: "The Fifth: Pierrot" (2011); Pierrot: Mad Pierrot (1994); Tanaka Koki of pop group KAT-TUN: "Pierrot", from Break the Records: By You & For You (2009); Yellow Magic Orchestra: "Mad Pierrot", from Yellow Magic Orchestra (1978).
  • MonegasqueJacques Pills: "Mon ami Pierrot"—winner Eurovision Song Contest 1959.
  • South KoreanElizabeth: "Ppappa Pierrot" (2011); JYJ: "Pierrot", from Their Rooms "Our Story" (2011); Lee Hyun Do: "Pierrot" (1999; featured in music video game Pump It Up); Maximum Crew: Pierrot (2009); Outsider: "Pierrot's Tear", from Vol.2 Maestro (2009), "Pierrot's Tear II", from Vol.2.5 The Outsider (2010), "Pierrot's Tear III", from Vol.3 Hero (2010); Rainbow: "Pierrot", from INNOCENT (2015).
  • UruguayanFalta y Resto: "Brindis por Pierrot" ("Cheers for Pierrot"), from Amor Rioplatense (2007); Jaime Roos: Brindis por Pierrot (1985).

Pierrot lunaire

The fifty poems that were published by Albert Giraud (born Emile Albert Kayenbergh) as Pierrot lunaire: Rondels bergamasques in 1884 quickly attracted composers to set them to music, especially after they were translated, somewhat freely, into German (1892) by the poet and dramatist Otto Erich Hartleben. The best known and most important of these settings is the atonal song-cycle derived from twenty-one of the poems (in Hartleben's translation) by Arnold Schoenberg in 1912, i.e., his Opus 21: Dreimal sieben Gedichte aus Albert Girauds Pierrot lunaire (Thrice-Seven Poems from Albert Giraud's Pierrot lunaire—Schoenberg was numerologically superstitious). The impact of this work on the musical world has proven to be virtually immeasurable. It has led, among other things, to ensemble groups' appropriating Pierrot's name, such as the English Pierrot Players (1967–70),[90] and to a number of projects—such as the Schoenberg Institute's of 1987[91] and the composer Roger Marsh's of 2001-2002[92]—that have been devised to pay homage to Schoenberg and, at the same time, to extend his avant-garde reach, thereby bringing both Hartleben's and Giraud's complete cycles to full musical fruition.[93]

But the loony Pierrot behind those cycles has invaded worlds well beyond those of composers, singers, and ensemble-performers. Theatrical groups such as the Opera Quotannis have brought Pierrot's Passion to the dramatic stage; dancers such as Glen Tetley have choreographed it; poets such as Wayne Koestenbaum have derived original inspiration from it.[94] It has been translated into still more distant media by painters, such as Paul Klee; fiction-writers, such as Helen Stevenson; filmmakers, such as Bruce LaBruce; and graphic-novelists, such as Antoine Dodé.[95] A passionately sinister Pierrot Lunaire has even shadowed DC Comics' Batman.[96] The inextinguishable vibrancy of Giraud's creation is aptly honored in the title of a song by the British rock-group The Soft Machine: "Thank You Pierrot Lunaire" (1969).[97]

Carnival and Pierrot Grenade

Pierrot, usually in the company of Pierrette or Columbine, appears among the revelers at many carnivals of the world, most notably at the festivities of Uruguay. His name suggests kinship with the Pierrot Grenade of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, but the latter seems to have no connection with the French clown. Pierrot Grenade is apparently descended from an earlier creature indeed called "Pierrot"—but this name seems to be an outsider's "correction" of the regional "Pay-wo" or "Pié-wo", probably a corruption of "Pay-roi" or "country king," which describes the stature to which the figure aspired.[98] This "Pierrot"—extinct by the mid-twentieth century—was richly garbed, proud of his mastery of English history and literature (Shakespeare especially), and fiercely pugnacious when encountering his likes.[99] Pierrot Grenade, on the other hand, whose name suggests descent from the humble island of Grenada (and who seems to have evolved as a hick cousin of his namesake), dresses in ragged strips of colored cloth, sometimes adorned with cheap trinkets; he has little truck with English culture, but displays his talents (when not singing and dancing) in speechifying upon issues of the day and spelling long words in ingenious ways.[100] A feeble fighter, he spars mainly with his tongue—formerly in Creole or French Patois, when those dialects were common currency—as he circulates through the crowds. Around the mid-twentieth century, he traveled about in pairs or larger groups, contending for supremacy among his companions,[101] but by the dawn of the twenty-first century, he had become rather solitary, a vestige of his former gregarious self. (View a dancing Pierrot Grenade.)


  1. Janin called Deburau's Pierrot "the people among the people" (pp. 156-57); Gautier identified him as "the modern proletarian, the pariah, the passive and disinherited being" (V, 24).
  2. On Pierrot in the art of the Decadents and Symbolists, see Pantomime and late nineteenth-century art; for his image in the art of the Modernists, see, for example, the Juan Gris canvases reproduced in Works on canvas, paper, and board.
  3. For studies of the relationship between modern artists and clowns in general, see Régnier, Ritter, and Starobinski. On the modern artist specifically as a Pierrot, see Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 93–193, and all of his Pierrots on the stage; also Green and Swan, Kellein, Palacio, Sensibar.
  4. Sand, Duchartre, and Oreglia see a close family resemblance between—if not an interchangeability of—both characters. Mic claims that an historical connection between Pedrolino and "the celebrated Pierrots of [Adolphe] Willette" is "absolutely evident" (p. 211). Nicoll writes that Pedrolino is the "Italian equivalent" of Pierrot (World, p. 88). As late as 1994, Rudlin (pp. 137-38) renames Pierrot "Pedrolino" in a translation of a scene from Nolant de Fatouville's Harlequin, Emperor of the Moon (1684): see Gherardi, I, 179.
  5. There is no documentation from the seventeenth century that links the two figures. In fact, what documentation does exist links Pierrot, not with Pedrolino, but with Pulcinella. "Dominique" Biancolelli, Harlequin of the first Comédie-Italienne in which Pierrot appeared by name, noted that "The nature of the rôle is that of a Neapolitan Pulcinella a little altered. In point of fact, the Neapolitan scenarii, in place of Arlecchino and Scapino, admit two Pulcinellas, the one an intriguing rogue and the other a stupid fool. The latter is Pierot's [sic] rôle: MS 13736, Bibliothèque de l'Opéra, Paris, I, 113; cited and tr. Nicoll, Masks, p. 294.
  6. Pedrolino scuffles with the Doctor, 1621.
    In one of the few extant contemporary illustrations involving Pedrolino—i.e., the frontispiece of Giulio Cesare Croce's Pedrolino's Great Victory against the Doctor Gratiano Scatolone, for Love of the Beautiful Franceschina (1621)—the zanni is shown thrashing the Doctor rather savagely (and, as the title indicates, victoriously). Such aggressive ferocity is nowhere to be seen, early or late, in the behavioral repertoire of Pierrot. Pierrot can be murderous (see "Shakespeare at the Funambules" and aftermath below), but he is never pugnacious.
  7. He appears in forty-nine of the fifty scenarios in Flaminio Scala's Il teatro delle favole rappresentative (1611) and in three of the scenarios in the unpublished "Corsini" collection. Salerno has translated the Scala scenarios; Pandolfi (V, 252–276) has summarized the plots of the "Corsini" pieces.
  8. "Indeed, Pierrot appears in comparative isolation from his fellow masks, with few exceptions, in all the plays of Le Théâtre Italien, standing on the periphery of the action, commenting, advising, chiding, but rarely taking part in the movement around him": Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 27-28.
  9. See the discussion in Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 22–28.
  10. Fournier, p. 113, provides the information for this paragraph. "If, as Fournier points out, Molière gave [his Pierrot] 'the white blouse of a French peasant', then I doubt very much that we have to look for traces of his origins [i.e., of the origins of the Italians' Pierrot] in the commedia dell'arte at all": Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, p. 20.
  11. Harlequin Biancolelli's manuscript-scenario of the play offers no insight into Pierrot's character. Pierrot's name appears only once: "This scene takes place in the country. I drop the hunting horn at Spezzafer's feet; he blows it; then, on the run, I trip up Pierrot; then I find a blind man ...." MS of the Opéra (Paris), II, 177; cited in Klingler, p. 154.
  12. See, e.g., Act III, scene iii of Eustache le Noble's Harlequin-Aesop (1691) in the Gherardi collection. A translated excerpt from the scene appears in Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, p. 20.
  13. See especially Regnard's Happy-Go-Lucky Harlequin (1690), The Wayward Girls (1690), and The Coquette, or The Ladies' Academy (1691); Palaprat's The Level-headed Girl (1692); Houdar de la Motte's The Eccentrics, or The Italian (Les Originaux, ou l'Italien, 1693) ; and Brugière de Barante's The False Coquette (1694). All appear in the Gherardi collection.
  14. See, e.g., the Scene des remontrances of Regnard's Wayward Girls in the Gherardi collection. A translated excerpt from this scene appears in Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, p. 23.
  15. See Act I, scene v of Regnard's La Coquette and Act III, scene i of Houdar de la Motte's The Eccentrics (Les Originaux), both in the Gherardi collection. Translations of these scenes appear in Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 26-27.
  16. See, e.g., Act I, scene ii of Palaprat's Level-Headed Girl in the Gherardi collection. A translated excerpt from this scene appears in Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 24-25.
  17. Courville, II, 104; Campardon, Comédiens du roi, II, 145; Meldolesi.
  18. In the last (1753) edition of the Nouveau Théâtre Italien, he appears only once—in Delisle de la Drévetière's The Falcon and the Eggs of Boccaccio (1725). The new company still produced pieces from the first Comédie-Italienne; they were added to the repertoire in 1718: Gueullette, pp. 87ff.
  19. For a full account of the struggle of the fair theaters to survive despite official opposition, see Bonnassies.
  20. These developments occurred in 1707 and 1708, respectively; see Bonnassies.
  21. For the plays, see Lesage and Dorneval; for an analysis, see Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 37–58.
  22. Barberet, p. 154; tr. Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 52, 53.
  23. See Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, p. 40.
  24. On Gilles and his confusion with Pierrot, see Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 74–81.
  25. In Lesage and Dorneval, VIII.
  26. For a full discussion, see Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 35-36.
  27. Both in Piron, IV; Storey translates a scene from Trophonius's Cave in Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 57-58.
  28. Parfait and Abguerbe, p. 57.
  29. Campardon, Spectacles, I, 391; tr. Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, p. 54, note 31.
  30. Barberet, p. 155; tr. Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, p. 58.
  31. Both masked and unmasked characters of the Commedia were known as "masks": see Andrews, p. xix.
  32. " ... without the least proof": Fournier, p. 114.
  33. On the French players in England, and particularly on Pierrot in early English entertainments, see Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 82–89.
  34. Disher, p. 135.
  35. Findlater, p. 79.
  36. "Casorti", Gyldendals encyklopædi.
  37. The chief historian of the Funambules is Péricaud.
  38. On Deburau's life, see Rémy, Jean-Gaspard Deburau; on his pantomime, see Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 7–35.
  39. See Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 15-23.
  40. Péricaud, p. 28; tr. Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 31–32.
  41. On the early Pierrots, see Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 12–13.
  42. In La Presse, January 25, 1847; tr. Storey, Pierrots on the stage, p 111.
  43. See Švehla, pp. 26–32.
  44. In La Presse, August 31, 1846; tr. Storey, Pierrots on the stage, p. 30.
  45. For a full discussion of the connection of all these writers with Deburau's Pierrot, see Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 104, 110–112, and Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 7, 74–151.
  46. Gautier's "review" appeared in the Revue de Paris on September 4, 1842, but the manuscript of The Ol’ Clo's Man that was submitted for approval to the censor's office before production of the pantomime bears the date October 17, 1842. Many passages in the manuscript were obviously plagiarized from Gautier's "review." The MS survives in the Archives Nationales de France as document F18 1087, manuscript #4426. For details, as well as the argument that Deburau appeared in the pantomime, see Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 41–44. For a full translation of Gautier's "review" into English, see Storey, "Shakespeare".
  47. Jean-Léon Gérôme: Duel after a Masked Ball, 1857. Condé Museum, Chantilly.
    Thomas Couture: The Supper after the Masked Ball, c. 1855. The Art Institute of Chicago.
    See Lawner, pp. 161–163. Of course not all mid-century painters were afflicted with the Romantics’ mal du siècle. Jean-Léon Gérôme seems to have painted his Duel after a Masked Ball (1857) solely for the sake of the drama inherent in Pierrot's slumped and dying body, his blood slowly staining the snow as Harlequin, his assassin, walks calmly away. Thomas Couture's Pierrot paintings—especially The Supper after the Masked Ball (c. 1855), with its Pierrot enthroned on a banquet table, gazing down ruefully at his passed-out fellow-revelers—have sometimes a frankly vulgar (which is to say, a solidly commercial) appeal.
  48. On these pantomimes and on late nineteenth-century French pantomime in general, see Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 115-33, and Pierrots on the stage, pp. 253-315.
  49. See, e.g., Gautier in Le Moniteur Universel, August 30, 1858; tr. Storey, Pierrots on the stage, p. 59.
  50. For a gallery of these photographs, see Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  51. Many reviewers of his pantomimes make note of this tendency: see, e.g., Gautier, Le Moniteur Universel, October 15, 1855; July 28, 1856; August 30, 1858; tr. Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 66–68.
  52. Champfleury, p. 6.
  53. The pantomime is summarized and analyzed by Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 152–179.
  54. On the Folies-Nouvelles, Legrand's pantomime, and Champfleury's relationship to both, see Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 36–73.
  55. Séverin, p. 47.
  56. Séverin, p. 179.
  57. Wague, pp. 8–11, 17; Rémy, George Wague, p. 27.
  58. On late nineteenth-century French pantomime, see Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 253-315, and Rolfe, pp. 143-58.
  59. See Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 284–294.
  60. See Cosdon.
  61. On the influence of the Hanlons on Goncourt and Huysmans and Hennique, see Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 182–188, 217–222; on the influence of Huysmans/Hennique on Laforgue's pantomime, see Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, p. 145, 154.
  62. See Lawner; Kellein; also the plates in Palacio, and the plates and tailpieces in Storey's two books.
  63. For posters by Willette, Chéret, and many other late nineteenth-century artists, see Maindron.
  64. For a full discussion of Verlaine's many versions of Pierrot, see Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 230-52.
  65. Deutsch, p. 213. The score, which is fragmentary, exists as K. 446.
  66. Debussy may have added the operetta Mon ami Pierrot (1862) by Léo Delibes, whom he admired, to this list. He probably would have excluded Jacques Offenbach's Pierrot Clown, a theater score of 1855.
  67. See Pertwee.
  68. Storey, Pierrots on the stage, p. 286.
  69. It is in part for this reason—that Pierrot was a late and somewhat alien import to America—that the early poems of T.S. Eliot that were closely modeled on the Pierrot poems of Jules Laforgue do not allude to Pierrot by name. See Storey, Pierrot: a critical history, pp. 156-67.
  70. For an exhaustive account of the Hanlons' appearances in America (and elsewhere), see Mark Cosdon, "A Chronological Outline of the Hanlon Brothers, 1833 - 1931."
  71. "For a Jest's Sake" (1894).
  72. See reproductions (in poster form) in Margolin, pp. 110, 111.
  73. See Carman's "The Last Room. From the Departure of Pierrot" (1899).
  74. Summer issue, 1896; cited in Margolin, p. 37.
  75. It also contains a short tale of Pierrot by Paul Leclercq, "A Story in White".
  76. Merrill, p. vii.
  77. “Pierrot at Berkeley Lyceum”, New York Times, December 8, 1893.
  78. Sarabia, p. 78.
  79. This is the case in many works by minor writers of the fin-de-siècle—e.g., Léo Rouanet, The Belly and Heart of Pierrot (1888), summarized in Storey, Pierrots on the stage, pp. 299–300.
  80. See Green and Swan.
  81. See Clayton, p. 137.
  82. Charlie Chaplin remarked in his Autobiography that his Little Tramp was "a sort of Pierrot" (p. 224).
  83. A variant of the poem is entitled "To a Pierrette with Her Arm Around a Brass Vase as Tall as Herself." It appears in an appendix in Moore, pp. 401–402.
  84. 84.0 84.1 Hughes’ "A Black Pierrot" was set to voice and piano by William Grant Still as part of Still's Songs of Separation (1945); Hughes’ "Pierrot" was set to voice and piano by Howard Swanson in 1950. Hughes' "Heart" was set to voice and piano (as "Pierrot [Heart]") by Michael Schachter in 2011. Teasdale's "Pierrot" was set to voice and piano by Jesse Johnston (1911), Charles Tomlinson Griffes (1912), Josephine McGill (1912), Walter Meyrowitz (1912), Helen Livingstone (1913), Ernst R. Kroeger (1914), Harold Vincent Milligan (1917), Mark Andrews (1919; also a version for chorus and piano, 1929), Jessie L. Gaynor (1919), Wintter Watts (1919), Dagmar de Corval Rybner (1921), Homer Samuels (1922), Gardner Read (1943), and Robert F. Baksa (2002; #4 of Teasdale Songs entitled "Portrait of Pierrot"). As "Pierrot Stands in the Garden", it was set to voice and piano by Eugene M. Bonner in 1914; and as the opening song of the cycle First Person Feminine, it was set to chorus and piano by Seymour Barab in 1970.
  85. See Palacio, pp. 40-50, for a discussion of the relationship between Lulu, "la Clownesse androgyne" of both Champsaur and Wedekind, and Pierrot.
  86. See, e.g., Bordet.
  87. Comic Vine
  88. Wilentz, pp. 161-63.
  89. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  90. Hall, pp. 72-77.
  91. Daniel Cariaga, "First eight premieres of 'Pierrot Project'", Los Angeles Times, February 5, 1988; Martin Bernheimer, "'Pierrot' sequels via Schoenberg Institute", Los Angeles Times, November 9, 1988; Gregg Wager, "Nine premieres in third 'Pierrot Project' concert", Los Angeles Times, January 27, 1989; Timothy Mangan, "Final installment of Pierrot Project at USC", Los Angeles Times, January 27, 1990.
  92. Roger Marsh—Albert Giraud's Pierrot lunaire, fifty rondels bergamasques. With The Hilliard Ensemble, Red Byrd, Juice, Ebor Singers & Paul Gameson director, Linda Hirst, Joe Marsh narrator. NMC Recordings: Cat. No. NMC D127.
  93. The Pierrot settings commissioned by the Schoenberg Institute are of the Hartleben translations; those of the Marsh cycle are English translations (by Kay Bourlier) of Giraud's original poems.
  94. The Opera Quotannis production (with Christine Schadeberg) was premiered in 1995; Tetley's ballet was first performed in 1962; Koestenbaum's ten Pierrot Lunaire poems appeared in his Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films (New York: Turtle Point Press, 2006).
  95. Klee's portrait dates from 1924; Stevenson is the author of the novel Pierrot Lunaire (London: Sceptre, 1995); Bruce LaBruce's Canadian/German film Pierrot Lunaire was released in 2014; and in 2011 Dodé published the first volume of his projected trilogy, Pierrot Lunaire.
  96. The character made his first appearance in issue #676: Batman R.I.P.: Midnight in the House of Hurt (2008); he resumed his role in nine other issues.
  97. From the album Volume Two.
  98. Carr, p. 283.
  99. Carr, pp. 281-82.
  100. Carr, pp. 283-84.
  101. Carr, pp. 284-85.


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Further reading

External links