Walt Kuhn was known for his depictions of many types of circus entertainers, but he was particularly interested in clowns. The White Clown is arguably Kuhn’s most famous painting, and the work that firmly established his reputation at the age of 51. Part of a long artistic tradition of images of performers, the figure’s angular, geometric, and monumental form recalls ancient Greek sculptures of athletes. Kuhn had met Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881 - 1973) in Paris during the summer of 1925. The White Clown evokes the Spanish artist’s many images of the circus and is stylistically similar to his classicizing period of the early 1920s. Kuhn’s clown paintings have autobiographical implications as well. The artist specified that a later painting—Kansas (1932, Ebsworth Collection)—be posthumously renamed Portrait of the Artist as a Clown. It has also been suggested that the intense facial expression of the 1948 work Chico in a Top Hat (Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York) portended the artist’s mental breakdown that year.