Having watched the PBS documentary on the Big Apple Circus and recently attended a touring show of the Cirque du Soleil, I was quite intrigued by these glimpses of circus folk rehearsing sketched by Toulouse-Lautrec more than a century ago.
During the winter of 1899, the artist was recovering from a severe mental and physical collapse at an asylum outside of Paris. Luckily, the Molier circus was preparing a show nearby, and he was able to make a series of crayon drawings both on the spot and from memory.
From the privileged informal vantage point of TL's "backstage pass," we observe performers entering and exiting the arena as well as rehearsing their vertiginous flights around it. I especially love the way the balance needed for the jockey to maintain his perch is reflected in the harmonious balance of the composition. All 39 of these masterful works (especially the ones of horses!) appear in Toulouse-Lautrec's The Circus.