Harlequin # 3

Harlequin # 3From Wikipedia

The re-interpretation of the “devil” stock character as a zanni character of the commedia dell’arte[7] took place in the 16th century. Zan Ganassa, whose troupe is first mentioned in Mantua in the late 1560s, was one of the earliest known actors believed to have performed the part[clarification needed].[8] The patched costume is due to Tristano Martinelli, whose zanni wore a linen costume of colourful patches, and a hare-tail on his cap to indicate cowardice. Tristano’s Harlequin also had a black leather half-mask, a moustache and a pointed beard. The name Harlequin (Arlequin) was Tristano’s choice for his character, loaned from the name of the popular French devil character it resembled. He was very successful, performing in Italy and in France, even playing at court and becoming a favourite of Henry IV of France, to whom he addressed insolent monologues (Compositions de Rhetorique de Don Arlequin, 1601).[9] Tristano’s great success contributed to the perpetuation of his interpretation of the zanni role, along with the name of his character, after his death in 1630, among others, by Nicolò Zecca, active c. 1630 in Bologna as well as Turin and Mantua.[10]

Further transformations of the character occurred in France, where Arlecchino was performed at the Comédie-Italienne in Italian by Tristano Martinelli, Giovan Battista Andreini, and Angelo Costantini (c. 1654–1729). The role was played in French as Arlequin in the 1660s by Dominique Biancolelli(it) (1636–1688), who combined the zanni types, “making his Arlecchino witty, neat, and fluent in a croaking voice, which became as traditional as the squawk of Punch.”[11] The Italians were expelled from France in 1697 for satirizingKing Louis XIV’s second wife, Madame de Maintenon,[12] but returned in 1716 (after his death), when Tommaso Antonio Vicentini (“Thomassin”, 1682–1739) became famous in the part.[7][13] The rhombus shape of the patches arose by adaptation to the Paris fashion of the 17th century by Biancolelli.

Harlequin # 2

Harlequin # 2


From Wikipedia

The name Harlequin is taken from that of a mischievous “devil” or “demon” character in popular French passion plays. It originates with an Old French term herlequinhellequin, first attested in the 11th century, by the chronistOrderic Vitalis, who recounts that he was pursued by a troop of demons when wandering on the coast of Normandy at night. These demons were led by a masked, club-wielding giant and they were known as familia herlequin(var. familia herlethingi). This medieval French version of the Germanic Wild Hunt, Mesnée d’Hellequin, has been connected to the English figure of Herla cyning (“host-king”; German Erlkönig).[2] Hellequin was depicted a black-faced emissary of the devil, roaming the countryside with a group of demons chasing the damned souls of evil people to Hell. The physical appearance of Hellequin offers an explanation for the traditional colours of Harlequin’s red-and-black mask.[3][4]

The first known appearance on stage of a Harlequin figure is dated to 1262, the character of a masked and hooded devil in Jeu da la Feuillière by Adam de la Halle, and it became a stock character in French passion plays. The name also appears as that of a devil, as Alichino, in Dante’s Inferno (cantos 21 to 23).[5][6]


Harlequin # 1

Hallequin 2014


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The classical appearance of the Harlequin stock character in thecommedia dell’arte of the 1670s, complete with batte or “slapstick”, in origin a magic wand used by the devil character to change the scenery of the play.[1] (Maurice Sand, 1860)

Harlequin (/ˈhɑrləˌkwɪn/; Italian: Arlecchino, French: Arlequin) is the most popularly known of the zanni or comic servant characters from the Italian Commedia dell’arte. It was introduced by the successful Italian actor Tristano Martinelli in the 1580s, and it became astock character after Tristano’s death in 1630. The derived genre of the Harlequinade, where the Harlequin character takes center stage, came to England in the 18th century (John Rich).

The Harlequin is characterized by his chequered costume. His role is that of a light-hearted, nimble and astute servant, often acting to thwart the plans of his master, and pursuing his own love interest, Colombina, with wit and resourcefulness, often competing with the sterner and melancholic Pierrot. He later develops into a prototype of the romantic hero. Harlequin inherits his physical agility and his trickster qualities, as well as his name, from a mischievous “devil” character in medieval passion plays.

In Victorian England, the Harlequin was routinely paired with the clown figure. The clown with his brutishness acted as a foil for the more sophisticated Harlequin. The most influential such pair were the Payne Brothers, active during the 1860s and 1870s, substantially shaping the 20th-century “slapstick” genre.

Photojournalism and Street Photography

Is there a difference between photojournalism and street photography? Does it matter? Here’s my attempt at an answer.

Street photography: Take a look at this picture.

The lady and the pigeon

The lady and the pigeon

My photograph is a street photo because it has these characteristics: 1) It’s technically marginal because it was captured on the fly with no time properly to set up the shot. 2) It makes you wonder what’s going on. 3) It arouses feeling in the viewer because it captures human nature and the lady’s face is visible.  4) The photo has no practical purpose. 5) It’s taken in an urban environment. 6) It asks the question of the photographer. Why did you take the picture? 7) The photo can stand alone without a story or caption.

Now look at his photo by Dorothea Lange taken on a photowalk in San Francisco in the 1930s.


This is an example of photojournalism because: 1) There is a clear purpose. The men sleeping on the street seem to need help, although that is not always the case. 2) The photo and any accompanying story can elicit two reactions that are both politically charged and diametrically opposite. a. These men need our help. Let’s organize to round up all men and women like them and give them what they need and/or train them for a job so they can be self-sufficient. b. Leave these men alone. If they have any character at all, they will “pull themselves up by their boot straps” and survive just fine without our help. If they lack the character to do this, then they deserve what they get.

Street photographs and photojournalism are not always easily distinguishable. There is overlap. But one rough way to do it is to see the street photograph as a stand alone revelation of human nature and the human’s place in an urban environment and photojournalism as news with a caption or story containing a political meaning eliciting polarized reactions.

Let me know what you think.


Henri Cartier-Bresson, street photographer

For me good street photography reveals people involved with others, with themselves, or sometimes with the photographer. As this superb video shows, Cartier-Bresson learned how to see people on the streets clearly. His early career passed from surrealism with its emphasis on geometric design to agitprop photography for various communist periodicals in the 1930s. After the war Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and David Seymour, and others formed Magnum, a cooperative of photographers, that dominated photojournalism for years and kept alive the street photography ethos with its interest in humanism, political change and human suffering. Cartier-Bresson, even though he later minimized his association with communism, held on to his sensitivity for the common man and the destructive effects of colonialism and capitalism. His images from the street resonate with the vitality of raw emotion of people living their lives.

Enjoy the old songs of Edith Piaff as you watch the photos.