Arlequin à la guitare (1917)

Gris, Juan (1887-1927)

Arlequin à la guitare (Harlequin with a Guitar)
Oil on panel, 100.3 × 65.1 cm
Metropolitan Museum of ArtNew York

Like many European artists before them, Cubists often depicted Harlequin, a stock character in the Italian commedia dell’arte, a form of masked theater dating back to the sixteenth century. Easily recognized in his checkered costume, Harlequin is a trickster with a tendency to act on whim and passion. For this reason, several modern artists adopted the character as an alter ego. Gris was particularly fond of the subject; he portrayed Harlequin in approximately forty works made between 1917 and 1925. In this painting, caricature softens the Cubist fracturing of the figure, while bands of light illuminate Harlequin’s costume. (MET)