Antonio Donghi – The Juggler (1936)

Famous for his motionless paintings, Italian artist Antonio Donghi (1897 – 1963) was also known as the painter fleeing the wind. There is no movement suggested in Donghi’s paintings, as if time is standing still, his style being reminiscent of Henri Rousseau and Georges Seurat.

The Italian was fascinated by the circus life and performers, in general, frequently depicting acrobats, singers, jugglers and harlequins in his works. By depriving them of their movement and audience through his paintings, we get a rare glimpse into the performers as separate entities, sad figures resigned to live for others’ pleasure, yet with immense respect for their trade. Beneath their apparent simplicity, Donghi’s paintings can be intriguing and unsettling at the same time.

Antonio Donghi - The Juggler (1936)
Antonio Donghi – The Juggler (1936)

The Juggler (1936) is a representative painting of Donghi during the 1920 – 1930s, albeit more joyous, where the emphasis is on a juggler, elegantly dressed, balancing a top hat on his cigar with apparent ease. As he often did in his paintings, Donghi used the blue curtains, to the left, to tell us that we’re assisting a performance. The small table with a flower vase on top of it, set against the blue wall, gives a bit more depth to the room, while also balancing the composition. Reminiscent of classic still life paintings,  the flower vase emphasizes the lack of movement in this scene and is a recurring motif in Donghi’s work.

2 thoughts on “Antonio Donghi – The Juggler (1936)

  1. Another enlightening post. I truly am amazed at the way you explain the painting. It feels like I am learning a new language, or ways of seeing which I had never paid attention to before. These posts are like a masterclass. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great news, I just don’t want you to think that my interpretations are unquestionable. It really comes down to you, how you see things, for there can be 1 million different interpretations of the same artwork. But one thing I can say for sure is that nothing is incidental, even the most bizarre, childish paintings have either been carefully planned and studied or they stem from an ideology, from the artist’s creed and experience.

      Liked by 1 person

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