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Photo of the Week #217

Vicente MartĂ­nez Sanz

Vintage black and white photo of two young children dressed in clown costumes, posed in a photo studio.

Pepito y Alberto, circa 1913
Vintage gelatin silver print on inscribed mount
6 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches


October 31, 2022
Here we see Vicente Martínez Sanz’s children, Pepito and Alberto, each costumed as the classic character Pierrot, the mute clown. Pierrot, along with Harlequin, emerged from the popular commedia dell'arte pantomimes of the 17th century. The stock characters were well known, thanks to the traveling theater troupes whose lighthearted performances graced town centers all across Europe. In early 20th century Spain, the characters were ubiquitous presences at Spanish Carnival and other costumed events throughout the year.

Artists in particular embraced Pierrot as an alter-ego, and the character appears in paintings by Odilon Redon, Henri Rousseau, Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne and many others. Sanz’s fellow Spanish countryman Pablo Picasso famously used the characters Harlequin and Pierrot throughout his career, and in 1929 he painted his eight year old son Paulo in a Pierrot costume (“Portrait of Paulo as Pierrot”).

“Feliz Día de las Brujas”