Seated Harlequin, c. 1920


Oil on canvasexpand_more

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John Cowlesexpand_more  58.33

Harlequin is a character in the Commedia dell’arte, a form of Italian theater in which masked actors perform broad, humorous sketches. Most figures in commedia are based on social stereotypes of 1500s Italy. Harlequin is a mischievous servant dressed in a diamond-patterned costume who vies against the clown character Pierrot for the love of Colombina, a servant girl.

Gris and other modern artists—including Picasso—commonly used Harlequin and other Commedia dell’arte figures as subject matter. The layered meanings of Harlequin fit well with the Cubist configuration of the figure from different viewpoints, where no one fixed perspective is shown.

Conservation of this picture was made possible by a generous contribution from Al and Dena Naylor through the Art Champions program.


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Seated Harlequin
Artist Life
1887 - 1927
Accession Number
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

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