A Circus Performer in Mid-Air
Have you ever been to the circus? This drawing shows a woman nicknamed Miss Lala performing one of her most famous circus tricks. She grips a mouthpiece and is being lifted to the rafters of the circus tent by her teeth. Another of her famous tricks was to be shot out of a cannon.
Miss Lala's act was a main attraction at the Fernando Circus in Paris more than 125 years ago. She and the circus were popular subjects for artists living in Paris at the time.
The artist who made this drawing, Edgar Degas, went to see Miss Lala perform many times. Degas was so captivated that he made about six drawings and a very large painting of Miss Lala.
Degas liked to draw scenes from entertainment and everyday life. In addition to making drawings of the circus, he drew singers, laundresses (women who washed clothes), milliners (women who made hats), horse races, and scenes from backstage at the opera. The artist regularly attended the ballet, and ballerinas became his most famous subjects.