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Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando (Francisca and Angelina Wartenberg)

Two girls in acrobatic uniforms stand in an arena, one holds oranges.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Two girls in acrobatic uniforms stand in an arena, one holds oranges.




Pierre-Auguste Renoir
French, 1841-1919

About this artwork

The two little circus girls in this painting are Francisca and Angelina Wartenberg, who performed as acrobats in the famed Cirque Fernando in Paris. Although they were depicted in the center of a circus ring, the sisters actually posed in costume in Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s studio, enabling him to paint them in daylight. Here he portrayed them just as they have finished their act and are taking their bows. One sister turns to the crowd, acknowledging its approval, while the other faces the viewer with an armful of oranges, a rare treat that the audience has tossed in tribute. Although Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando reflects the artist’s enchantment with the innocence of childhood—he has enveloped the girls in a virtual halo of pinks, oranges, yellows, and whites—the partially visible, darkly clothed (mainly male) spectators allude to the less wholesome, nocturnal demimonde of the nineteenth-century circus in which these two young performers grew up. The famed Chicago collector Mrs. Potter Palmer purchased Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando in 1892 and was so enamored of the picture that she kept it with her at all times, even on her travels abroad.


On loan to National Gallery in London for Discover Degas: Miss La La and the Cirque Fernando


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Pierre-Auguste Renoir


Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando (Francisca and Angelina Wartenberg)


France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


Inscribed at lower left: Renoir


131.2 × 99.2 cm (51 1/2 × 39 1/16 in.)

Credit Line

Potter Palmer Collection

Reference Number


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