Scene design for Pagliacci

Maker and role
Artist: Horace Armistead, American, born England, 1898-1980
ca. 1951
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Object detail

Gouache on board
sheet, 19 3/4 x 29 3/4in (50.2 x 75.6cm)
Credit line
Gift of The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund
Accession number
Theatre production
Opera by Ruggero Leoncavallo. Produced by the Metropolitan Opera, New York, 1951.
Further information
A number of works in the McNay collection employ the device of the "painting within a painting" or the "play within a play." Illusion is stripped away, focusing on the reality of creating or experiencing art. In his scene design for Pagliacci, Horace Armistead depicts the prologue of Leoncavallo's opera. An Italian commedia troupe has set up a stage in a village. One of the actors reminds the audience that comedians are real people, a point reinforced by the ensuing action. Armistead's scene design, however, underscores the artifice of the opera. Buildings and trees are obviously painted on flats and drops.
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