This black and white print is an oval full-length portrait of the showman/clown Dan Rice, surrounded by six smaller, full-length oval depictions of him in various roles. The title of the print appears at the top and the word “Clown” at the bottom.
Dan Rice (1823-1900) was one of America's most famous circus clowns, known for performances that included singing, dancing, shows of strength, trick riding, and trained animal acts. He was also a celebrated humorist, whose comedy acts ranged over the years from Shakespearean parodies to biting political satire. Born Daniel McLaren in New York City, Rice worked as a jockey as a boy and launched his performing career at the age of seventeen with a song and dance routine and a trained pig he called Lord Byron. He joined his first circus as a strongman and in 1844 began performing as a clown. By the late 1840s he had established his own one-ring circus, called Dan Rice’s Great Show. Sporting a trademark Uncle Sam beard, he described himself as the “Great American Humorist.” He later entered politics, running for the Pennsylvania State Senate and in 1868 for president of the United States, although he eventually dropped out. Alcoholism contributed to the eventual decline of his circus career, and he stopped touring in 1885.
This lithograph was produced by G. & W. Endicott. George Endicott (1802-1848) was born in Canton, Massachusetts. He worked as an ornamental painter in Boston before turning to lithography around 1828. In 1830, he went into business with Moses Swett (1804-1838), a native of Poland who had worked previously for the Pendleton lithography firm as an artist and draftsman. Endicott & Swett first opened in Baltimore but moved to New York in 1831. The partnership dissolved in 1834, and Swett continued to work on his own in New York from 1834-1837. Endicott stayed on as the head of the company which his brother William (1816-1851) later joined. After George Endicott’s death in 1848, William ran the firm as William Endicott & Co.
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