(b. 1859, Paris, d. 1891, Paris)
Oil on canvas, 180 x 148 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Although this painting was still not completed at the painter's early death in 1891, Seurat had already exhibited it that year in the Salon des Indépendents. It was intended to bring home clearly the principles of his art that he had developed in the previous ten years and at the same time to emphasize his leading role in modern painting.
The circus was that of the Cirque Fernando, not far from Seurat's studio. To clarify his depiction Seurat left most of the seats empty behind the artiste riding into the arena The work has something of the quality of a poster.
The Cirque Fernando had its pitch on the Boulevard Rochechouart. In 1894 it was redesigned as a theatre. Included among its regular guests were Lautrec, and also Degas, Renoir and Seurat, who decorated the rooms with their paintings.