Renoir was excellent in figure painting. The subjects of his paintings are mostly people from lower classes, from dancers to street girls. Renoir's paintings are always examining closely social reality with critical spirit. Some of his paintings criticize reality by revealing the dark side of the society.
Describing the life of circus is a feature of western painters' concern for folk life. This Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando Francisca and Angelina Waternber is an interior painting, filled with somber atmosphere of living at the bottom of society. Renoir thought that a painting should give people a sense of timeless beauty, instead of boasting its aesthetic feeling to people.
Generally, people's impression of Renoir paintings is that his paintings are immersed in a joyous and friendly atmosphere, like a grand banquet under the sun. However, in this painting, we can sense an air of uneasiness and sadness. That is to say, Renoir also saw hardships in common people's life. Perhaps because of his optimistic attitude, he preferred to describe the pleasure of life in this painting. If we only pay attention to these two acrobats' skin and ignore their facial expression, we can still feel harmonious and pleasant atmosphere. Especially, their arms glisten with light pink, which expresses their pleasure from the depth of their heart. That kind of pleasure only belongs to children.
Standing on the center stage, two acrobats are wearing golden stage costumes, with golden bow-knots on their heads. The girl on the left side turns her body to the audience. She is holding her hands up. It looks she is memorizing the movements she is going to perform. The other girl, with a lot of red balls in her hand, she cocks her head on one side. Apparently she is thinking about something important. Although their movements are different, both facial expressions are uneasy. From their vacant eyes and knit brows, we can know that they are not as happy as we imagined. Maybe they are worrying about the performance or they are thinking about their hard life.
This Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando Francisca and Angelina Wartenber was contributed by Mrs. Parma to Chicago. Mrs. Parma donated many impressionist paintings to Chicago and this one is her favorite painting.