Whiteface Clown Type

The Whiteface Clown type has many variations, called by different names in various parts of the globe.

Neat Whiteface Clown - Harry Dann
Harry Dann

The three major variations are:

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All variations of the Whiteface Clown type should have the skin completely covered from the neckline up with white make-up and different shades of colors for accenting facial features including the ears.

When you see a group of clowns in a performance, you will notice the Whiteface usually seems to be in charge. He tends to appear smarter than the other clown types and is most often the clown who directs traffic in skits or sets up pranks: tripping another clown or throwing a pie in another's face. This doesn't always work and, in fact, the gag often backfires! While the Whiteface may appear to be the boss clown and smarter than the others, he is, after all, still a clown!

European Whiteface Clown - Francois Fratellini
Francois Fratellini

A Little Whiteface History

The Whiteface Clown type has it's roots as far back as the 1700's but it is necessary to go into the 1600's to understand how the character came into existence. It probably started with the Commedia dell'Arte performances, where Pedrolino was the young, simple-minded character whose mask was simply a powdered face. This character was adapted to French theater and became Pierrot

Grotesque Whiteface Clown - Felix Adler
Felix Adler

During the 18th century circus the Whiteface clown was placed with the ringmaster who was the authority figure. As is normal with the evolution of clowning, by the early 19th century the Whiteface clown had evolved into more of a leadership role who began to replace the Harlequin character.

Fast forward to the end of the 19th century with the introduction of the Auguste and a new naive character is born. This is not the end of the story however as the evolution of clowning happens, the Auguste Clown is becoming more intelligent especially with the introduction of the Tramp/Hobo clown at the turn of the 20th century, and the Whiteface seems to be evolving continualy and is becoming less popular.

Top of Whiteface Clown Type | Auguste Clown Type | Hobo Clown Type
European Whiteface | Neat Whiteface Clown | Grotesque Whiteface
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