Artist John Sloan’s 1910 painting, “Clown Making Up,” is an oil on canvas genre painting that depicts an old clown preparing for his performance in front of a mirror. The painting measures 32 1/8 x 26 inches and can be found in The Phillips Collection in Washington DC. Sloan was part of The Eight, also known as the Ashcan School, which focused on capturing the everyday experiences of modern life in their art.
Sloan’s New Realism style is evident in this work, as he documents city life with an unflinching eye, turning his back on traditional refined subjects and styles of art. In the background of the painting are a candle and other home furnishings, indicating that the clown is likely getting ready for his performance at home rather than a theater.
While “Clown Making Up” portrays a seemingly mundane moment before a show, it encapsulates the essence of what it means to be a performer. The aging clown’s face bears wrinkles and signs of fatigue from years on stage – yet he continues to paint on his happy face and put on a show for others. This portrait serves as both social commentary and artistic realism, providing insight into societal values surrounding entertainment during early 20th century America.
Overall, “Clown Making Up” showcases Sloan’s talent as an artist who observed daily life with careful attention to detail while questioning traditional forms of beauty represented by fine arts before his movement arose through several artists such as himself.