Edited and prepared for the Internet by Ronald Davis
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with further selections from
Stanley Roseman - An Artist's Journal
 Frosty Little, 1977
Director of Clowns
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Oil on Strathmore paper, 73 x 58 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux
"Paintings by Stanley Roseman glow with a shiny dignity."
2. Stanley Roseman and Frosty Little, Director of Clowns
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1977.
© Stanley Roseman and Ronald Davis, 2014 - All Rights Reserved
Visual imagery and site content may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever.
     In the portrait of Frosty Little, a warm tonal harmony of yellow ochre, orange, lilac, and sienna pervades the painting. Roseman defines the pictorial space and the clown's costume with fluent brushstrokes complemented by fine, detail rendering of the facial features with warm and cool tones of the clown's white-face makeup and white skullcap.
3. Frosty Little, 1977
Director of Clowns
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Oil on Strathmore paper, 73 x 58 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux
     The pyramidal composition of the painting is restated in the triangular leitmotif of the boat-like hat, the shapes of the clown's collar and jacket, and the light-blue makeup that descends from the corner of his eyes onto his cheeks. The red makeup on the lower lip and corners of the mouth and on the tip of the nose add bright accents to the portrait of the circus clown.
Spirit of the Clown
     The New York Times published a superlative review entitled "Spirit of the Clown" dedicated to Roseman's work created during sojourns with the Ringling Bros. and Barnun & Bailey Circus.
    "Circus clowns are one of the glittering joys of all of our lives, whether we are young or old. Through their theatrical exaggerations, their madcap gestures and antics, their rubber acrobatics and their mimes, they create a magic world at once filled with captivating innocence as well as with the essence of which life is made. They can reach through our pretensions and postures, bare our masquerades through theirs and, all told, touch our souls.
    ''Clowns, I believe, must be as difficult to characterize in paintings as they are in words, for their art defies analytical conventions and descriptions. Although their skills remain firmly fixed in our minds, their interpretations have the gossamer evanescence of filigree. And yet Roseman has managed to catch the spirit of the clown.''
- The New York Times
My Friendship with Frosty Little
    "Over the years that followed, I returned to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus when it played Philadelphia; Hartford; Washington, D.C.; Troy, New York; and Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, as well as Madison Square Garden, where I had begun my work at the Circus. Each time I returned, the circus clowns warmly welcomed me back to Clown Alley. Frosty, as before, allocated a place where I could set up my easel and resume painting portraits of the circus clowns."
    "My longtime friendship with the celebrated circus clown Glen 'Frosty' Little, Director of Clowns of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, began in spring 1973, when the Circus played Madison Square Garden, New York City, on its 103rd  Edition tour. With a cordial invitation from the famous American Circus, I drew the troupe of clowns backstage during three exciting weeks."
   In a letter to Roseman, 1979, Frosty Little writes about his portrait: "That is such an excellent painting. . . . I think it is one of your best and not just because it's me.''
   When the portrait was acquired in 1984 by the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, Frosty writes to say that he is "so proud'' and to thank his friend "so much" for having painted "the beautiful, beautiful picture.''
                                    - Frosty Little
                                      Director of Clowns
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
   In further correspondence with the artist in 1981, the celebrated circus clown writes: "I have to thank you, Stanley, because you're so talented to paint such a picture.''
At the Circus - My Friendship with Frosty Little
An Audience with Pope John Paul II
An Invitation to Draw at the Metropolitan Opera
On Portraiture
My Friendship with Frosty Little Director of Clowns
Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Frosty Little's Clown Makeup
     The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus clowns had a tradition of distinctive clown makeup and a specific technique for applying the makeup. Frosty Little's clown makeup materials are seen in the photograph below, (fig. 4). Included are a large container of white greasepaint; smaller containers of red, blue, and black greasepaint; red and blue makeup pencils; three thin brushes; and a shaving brush. The shaving brush is a standard item in the application of clown makeup.
    "I am deeply appreciative for the thoughtful gift of Frosty's makeup materials which Ronald photographed for this website page. Opening the containers and arranging the items brought back wonderful memories of Clown Alley, where I observed the circus clowns applying their makeup and learned about clown makeup in preparation for painting and drawing their portraits.
    "The white-face clowns applied white greasepaint to the entire face, as well as on the ears and neck. The white makeup is gently patted to achieve an even texture. Red, blue, and black are the standard greasepaints to enhance the white-face clown's facial features.
    "Frosty explained that white greasepaint must be removed from areas where red will be applied on the mouth, nose, or cheeks. This process retains the brightness of the red color.
4. Circus clown makeup and brushes from Frosty Little
with his personal card and a holiday greeting card reproducing
Roseman's portrait Frosty Little, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.
    "I observed that blue is applied primarily on eyelids, around the eyes, or down the checks. Frosty told me that he applies blue greasepaint on the white for a light blue color. Black is used to delineate eyebrows and often to outline red on the nose, mouth, and cheeks. Talcum powder sets the makeup and prevents it from running or smudging. A white, porous sock is filled with talcum powder and tapped onto the face. With a shaving brush, the powder is gently dusted off, thus setting the makeup to last through two shows a day -  matinee and evening - and a third show generally scheduled for Saturday mornings.''
     Frosty Little and his lovely wife Patricia thoughtfully made a gift of the celebrated circus clown's costume and makeup materials to their friends Roseman and Davis. The above photograph of the makeup items includes Frosty's personal card with the title: "Glen 'Frosty' Little, Director of Clowns, Red and Blue Units,'' and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus logo and address. Also included in the photograph is a holiday greeting card 1981 from Frosty and Pat. The artist was very touched when Frosty asked if he and Pat could reproduce for a holiday card the portrait of Frosty. The artist and his partner were very pleased to receive the card inscribed: "Dear Stan and Ron, We hope you like the card. Love, Frosty and Pat.'' (See the photograph below with Frosty Little's circus clown costume, (fig. 7).
The Portrait Frosty Little enters the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux
     Madame Martin-Méry thoughtfully invited me to luncheon in one of the City's fine restaurants, where we enjoyed delicious, culinary specialties of the region, accompanied by excellent Bordeaux wines.
Portrait of Frosty Little
     The Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, conserves the superb portrait Frosty Little, 1977, seen at the top of the page and here, (fig. 3). Roseman depicts the esteemed Director of Clowns of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in a quiet interlude between the busy backstage activity of preparing for a show and the heightened energy of a performance in the circus arena.
     Roseman's paintings and drawings earned him great respect, and his modesty and pleasant manner established a close rapport between the artist and the clowns in the closed and itinerant circus community.
     The Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, in a biographical essay on Roseman, praises the artist's paintings of circus clowns: "Using the colors and textures of his oils, he has created paintings that are both brilliant and moving portraits.''[1]
     The Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, housing a prestigious collection of old master to modern paintings and drawings, acquired in 1984 the portrait painting Frosty Little.
     The Clown is an important subject in French art. The Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, had presented in 1980 a major exhibition Les Arts du Théâtre de Watteau à Fragonard. Loans to the exhibition were made by over fifty museums in France and abroad. Gilberte Martin-Méry, distinguished Chief Curator of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, organized the impressive exhibition and wrote the Foreword to the excellent catalogue. The catalogue states that the art of the eighteenth century in France is "strongly identified with the world of the theatre," ("profondément marqués par l'univers du théâtre").[2] Artists depicted actors, dancers, singers, musicians and popular characters of the commedia dell'arte, including Harlequin, Gilles, Pierrot, and Pulcinella. Through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, artists in France continued to depict imagery of the Clown, as did Roseman in Paris in the 1990's when he returned to the subject of the Clown, who had inspired him in his work two decades before at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
    "When the Circus departed Madison Square Garden at the end of May, Frosty and I kept in correspondence. Frosty sent me the circus itinerary and encouraged me to return and to bring my painting materials. In an early letter, Frosty told me of a circus proverb that if one wears out a pair of shoes at the circus, one will always return.
    "Frosty's words were prophetic for I did return, first to the Chicago International Amphitheater in October, when I noticed that the soles of my shoes were indeed beginning to wear thin.
    "The Circus clowns generally applied red or black greasepaint only on the lower lip. Sometimes the red or black is extended slightly below the lip and to the sides of the mouth to extend a smile. I also learned about clown makeup from my friend Bobby Kay, a senior member of the clown troupe and renowned white-face circus clown whose portrait I also painted. Bobby explained, as he pointed above his upper lip, 'If you put somethin' up here, it gives you such a short space between the nose and mouth the makeup doesn't read well. The makeup has got to read from a distance - from the bleachers in the tent and from the last rows in the arena.'
     In a rare acceptance of a circus outsider, Roseman was invited into the private, enclosed backstage area reserved as the clowns' dressing room, called in circus terminology "Clown Alley.''
    "Frosty thoughtfully provided me with my own place in Clown Alley where I set up my easel and painted portraits of the circus clowns. Frosty also provided me with the use of a vacant prop trunk in which to store my work and art materials. The clowns kindly gave of their time before the shows, in the intervals between their acts, during intermissions, and between matinee and evening shows. I planned my work according to the clowns' schedules and adapted to their backstage routines.
    "In mid-November, with the clowns' enthusiasm for my work, I drove out to Long Island, where the Circus had returned to the East Coast for an engagement at the Nassau Coliseum. Frosty again provided me with a work space in Clown Alley and, as before, the use of a vacant prop trunk to store my work and art materials. The clowns again kindly gave of their time as well as their camaraderie in sharing with me the extraordinary experience of life in the Circus.
    "I returned to the Circus during its final engagement of the year in Springfield, Massachusetts. I took the train to Springfield on November 30th to say good-bye to the clowns, and in particular, to Bobby Kay and Frankie Saluto, who were retiring that year. I went for the day because of my work commitments in New York City, thus I took only my drawing materials. It was a day of saying heartfelt good-byes in Clown Alley. However, the clowns insisted it was a temporary good-bye. Frosty asked to see the soles of my shoes, and affirming that they were well worn, he announced: 'Stan will be back for sure!'
     The New York Times in its laudatory review cites Roseman's empathy with his models and observes the humanism in the artist's depictions of the Clown, who "has chosen his profession and carries it out not only with artistry but with a shiny dignity. . . . But he is also described in those moments of introspection," as with the portrait of Frosty Little.
     Portraiture holds an important place in Roseman's oeuvre. Aftonbladet, Stockholm, the leading Swedish newspaper, published in 1980 in its Sunday magazine a cover story on the artist and commends Roseman for creating portraits "artistically on a high level as well as accurately expressive of the human dimension.''
    "Although painting and drawing at the Circus meant acclimating to unfamiliar environments, new working spaces, different conditions of light, and often much activity around me, I found such circumstances conducive to my own creative process. I was deeply grateful for the exceptional invitation to paint and draw in the private domain of Clown Alley, a world within the circus world."
Longtime Friendship
    "I am fortunate to have been befriended by Frosty Little at the outset of my work at the Circus. Frosty's enthusiasm for my work, his providing me with a work space in Clown Alley, and his ongoing invitations to return to the Circus over the years made possible the realization of my oeuvre of paintings and drawings of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus clowns.
    "In the early years of my friendship with Frosty and Pat, they gave me a very thoughtful gift of their collection of Time-Life Books, Library of Art, which they had in their home. Each book is on the life and work of an artist, including Dürer, Titian, Rubens, Velasquez, Manet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Winslow Homer. The books were published from 1967 to 1969 and presented in attractive slipcases. The excellent volumes are an important addition to my art books.
     I also want to express on behalf of Stanley and myself our sincere appreciation to the eminent Chief Curator of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, for her very thoughtful gift of the Museum's exhibition catalogue Les Arts du Théâtre de Watteau à Fragonard. My sojourn in Bordeaux that November was most memorable.
    "In 1980, the Administration appointed Frosty Little the Director of Clowns of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which comprised two units: the Red Unit, the original company; and the Blue Unit, established in 1969.
6. The personal card of Glen "Frosty" Little,
Director of Clowns, Red & Blue Units,
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
The card is from the artist's collection of
archival material from Frosty Little.
     At luncheon, Madame Martin-Méry and I spoke about les arts du théâtre, and she asked about my previous work in theatre and opera. I said that I had earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in Shakespeare, Medieval Prose and Poetry, and Literary Criticism from Bowdoin College in my home state of Maine. In 1975, I was stage manager and assistant director at the American Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, Connecticut, for a production of King Lear. It was an enriching experience to work with the renowned American actor Morris Carnovsky in his acclaimed role as the tragic king. At the Lyric Opera of Chicago, I was stage manger and assistant director for the 1973 and 1974 seasons. For the Lyric Opera's premiere of Massenet's Manon, with Teresa Zylis-Gara, I worked with the eminent director Paul-Emile Deiber of the Comédie Française. I also had the pleasure of working with Dame Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, and Alfredo Kraus for  Lyric Opera's premiere of Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment, directed by Sandro Sequi from Milan's La Scala. I worked with Luciano Pavarotti and Ileana Cotrubas in Puccini's La Bohème, and Sir Geraint Evans, who directed and sang the title role in Verdi's Falstaff.
     Madame Martin-Méry asked how I came to work with Stanley. I said that at college I took honor courses in art history with the Chairman of the Art Department and Winslow Homer scholar Professor Philip C. Beam, who encouraged me in my interests in the fine arts. Meeting Stanley brought my interests in the fine arts to the fore. 
     The Chief Curator had a photograph taken of my presentation to the Museum. I am appreciative that a photograph was taken for the Museum's archives and that I was sent a copy of the photograph.
     At the beginning of the New Year, I spoke on the telephone with Madame Martin-Méry. She expressed again her great pleasure having Stanley's portrait of Frosty Little for the collection of the Museum. She told me that the painting is on exhibition in the Grand Salon des Peintures and visitors to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, are expressing admiration for the portrait of the celebrated American circus clown.
     The acquisition of the portrait was also of personal significance to me for I made the donation in loving memory of my mother Gabrielle Nadeau Davis. My maternal ancestry is French. My mother's paternal and maternal families - Nadeau and Loubier - trace their ancestry to the seventeenth century, from Charente and Aveyron, part of the ancient Duchy of Aquitaine; and from the parish of St. Eustache in the Marais quarter in Paris.
     Madame Martin-Méry expressed great enthusiasm for the portrait Frosty Little: "C'est magnifique!"
     The acquisition of the portrait by the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, was the first painting by Stanley to enter the collection of a museum in France. It means all the more to Stanley and me that the acquisition is a portrait of our friend Frosty Little.
5. Ronald Davis presenting Roseman's portrait Frosty Little 
to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, 1984
     As editor of this website, I want to express my sincere gratitude for the gracious hospitality I received from Gilberte Martin-Méry, Chief Curator of the Museum for twenty-five years. Madame Martin-Méry had written me a cordial letter on 16 October 1984: "What joy your very kind letter has brought me!" ("Quelle joie m'apporte votre très gentille lettre ! . . . .") "I thank you for the donation you have offered to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, in remembrance of your mother. I look forward to welcoming you in Bordeaux, when you bring the oeuvre Frosty Little, 1977. I am asking today authorization from the Direction des Musées de France for your donation. Thanking you again, Cher Monsieur, I express my kindest regards. Touts mes amitiés."
Frosty Little
    "Glen Little was born in Genoa, Nebraska, in 1925. In his boyhood, his grandfather called him 'Frosty' because he loved playing in the snow. The descriptive name was providential to the successful career of the white-face, circus clown, Director of Clowns of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
    "I learned in conversations with Frosty about his career with the Circus. In 1968 Frosty attended the opening year of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, in Venice, Florida. The College was established to promote and teach circus and clowning skills. Frosty graduated with the inaugural class and joined the Circus that autumn.
    "Frosty was in his second year with the Circus when in June 1970, the Administration promoted him 'Boss Clown,' a circus term for the leader of the clown troupe.
    "Each Unit presented a new edition every two years and traveled by train on a separate itinerary throughout the United States. Frosty was the Boss Clown of the Red Unit before becoming Director of Clowns.
    "The Greatest Show on Earth was in its 103rd Edition in 1973, when I began my work at the Circus. I was with the Red Unit. Over the years I returned to the Red Unit to resume drawing and painting portraits of the circus clowns.
    "Frosty Little was awarded the prestigious title Master Clown at a formal presentation at the Washington, D.C. Armory in 1983. Glen 'Frosty' Little was the fourth and last circus clown to be so honored by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In commemoration of twenty-three years with the Circus, Frosty Little was inducted in 1991 into the Clown Hall of Fame in Delavan, Wisconsin."
     Madame Martin-Méry, who had acquired by my donation in 1982 three drawings by Stanley from his ecumenical work on the monastic life, welcomed me again most cordially to the Museum in November 1984. I was very pleased to make a gift of the painting of Frosty Little to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.
    "Frosty and I corresponded through the years. His handwritten letters, often three and four pages, shared events in his career with the Circus. Frosty sent archival material, including newspaper and magazine articles, brochures, and photographs, many of which he annotated on the back with information. Frosty and Pat also thoughtfully sent photographs of themselves at home.
1. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris - Drawings on the Dance at the Paris Opéra,
   (text in French and English), (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1996), p. 11.
2. Marianne R. Michel and Daniel Rabreau. Les Arts du Théâtre de Watteau à Fragonard,
   (Bordeaux: Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1980), p. 43.
My Friendship with Frosty Little
   Page 1
Links to Pages 2, 3, and 4
      on the bottom of this page.
    "The gift of Frosty's clown costume and makeup items is a precious gift from the celebrated Director of Clowns of the illustrious Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus."
    "Frosty and Pat's friendship with Ronald and me is further expressed by the valuable gift of the Master Clown's circus costume.
    "The gift includes Frosty's jacket, trousers, shirt, tie, suspenders, socks and striped, oversized shoes, skullcap and conical hat. In addition to his clown costume are containers of white, red, blue, and black greasepaint; and makeup pencils and brushes with which the Master Clown applied his distinctive clown makeup that I know so well.
    "For a presentation on this website page, (fig. 7), Ronald photographed the gift of Frosty's costume and makeup materials before they were put away in a safe-deposit vault with my artwork from the Circus. Seen on the wall in the photograph is a framed, fine art reproduction of the portrait Frosty Little in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.
    "Frosty wore the costume in performances in 1988 for the 118th Edition of 'The Greatest Show on Earth,' which honored the Director of Clowns in his twentieth year with the Circus. Frosty continued to wear the costume over the years, as in 1991 for his induction into the Clown Hall of Fame.
7. Frosty Little's circus clown costume
and makeup materials.
Gift to Stanley Roseman and Ronald Davis
from Glen "Frosty" Little, and his wife Patricia.
     At Christmas 1984, Stanley and I telephoned Frosty and Pat at Circus Winter Quarters in Florida to tell them that the portrait of Frosty had been acquired the month before by the Museé des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux. Frosty and Pat were overjoyed and sincerely thankful.
- The New York Times
Page 1 - My Friendship with Frosty Little
Letters, including Photographs on Frosty's Career with the Circus
Letters on Circus Life and the Portrait Frosty Little on the Cover of the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA
NBC Television News with Roseman and the Circus Clowns
Stanley Roseman - The Performing Arts in America bicentennial exhibition, 1975 - 1977