This work belongs to a suite of some seventy "dream" pictures that Miró created in 1927. Influenced both by Surrealism and the narrative geometry of Paul Klee, Miró created whimsical, dreamlike compositions throughout the 1920s. In this painting of a circus, a bright blue ground provides the arena for a dancing horse and a central figure—the ringmaster, perhaps—whose yellow whip crisscrosses the canvas in a meditative, meandering line. As a critic remarked in 1928, Miró "acts in the world of magic."
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Miró/ 1927; signed and dated (on reverse): Joan Miro/ 1927.
[Galerie Pierre, Paris, until 1928; acquired from the artist; sold in 1928 to Russell]; Mrs. Charles H. Russell, New York (1928–34; her sale, Rains Auction Galleries, New York, February 9, 1934, no. 99, sold to Dale); Chester Dale, New York (1934–46; his sale, Parke Bernet Galleries, New York, May 1, 1946, no. 59, sold to Pierre Matisse); [Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1946–51; sold on October 20, 1951 to Steinberg]; Muriel Kallis Steinberg, Chicago (1951–2006; her gift to MMA)
Paris. Galerie Georges Bernheim. "Joan Miró," May 1–15, 1928, no catalogue.
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Summer Exhibition: Retrospective," June 15–September 28, 1930, no. 69.
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Summer Exhibition: Painting and Sculpture," July 10–September 30, 1933, no catalogue.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Modern European Art," October 3–27, 1933, no catalogue.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Joan Miró," November 18, 1941–January 11, 1942, unnumbered cat. (p. 46) [possibly traveled to other venues through June 1942].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "An American Choice: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection," May 21–September 27, 1981, unnumbered cat. (p. 29).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 17, 2007–February 3, 2008, extended to March 2, 2008, no. 7.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Miró: The Dutch Interiors," October 5, 2010–January 17, 2011, no catalogue.
Basel. Fondation Beyeler. "Surrealism in Paris," October 2, 2011–January 29, 2012.
L'Amic de les arts 3 (June 30, 1928), ill. p. 197, as "Pintura".
Vicente Huidobro. Cahiers d'art 9, no. 1-4 (1934), fig. 24, erroneously as in the collection of Max Janlet, Brussels.
Pierre Loeb. Voyages à travers la peinture. [Paris], 1946, pl. XXIX.
Herbert Read inPicasso, Gris, Miro: The Spanish Masters of Twentieth Century Painting. Exh. cat., San Francisco Museum of Art. San Francisco, 1948, p. 92.
A[lexandre]. Cirici-Pellicer. Miró y la imaginación. Barcelona, 1949, pp. 27, 42, pl. 31.
"The Treasury of the Circus." Art News Annual 19 (1950), ill. p. 46.
Jacques Dupin. Joan Miró: Life and Work. New York,  (French ed., 1961), pp. 168, 517, no. 207, ill. (French ed., p. 501, no. 207, ill.).
Judith Goldman. "Collecting in Chicago: 'Love Affairs with Art'." Art News 78 (February 1979), p. 49.
Alice Hess. "Great Private Collections: A Chicago Visionary." Saturday Review 7, no. 14 (October 1980), p. 72, ill. p. 73.
Hilton Kramer. "Modernist Show Moves Met Firmly into Art of 20th Century." New York Times (May 22, 1981), p. C21.
Lisa M. Messinger in "Twentieth Century Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1980–1981. New York, 1981, pp. 61–62, ill.
Kate Farrell. Art and Nature: An Illustrated Anthology of Nature Poetry. New York, 1992, ill. p. 89.
Jacques Dupin and Ariane Lelong-Mainaud. Joan Miró: Catalogue raisonné. Paintings. Vol. 1, 1908–1930. [Paris], 1999, p. 177, no. 231, ill.
Carolyn Lanchner inAbstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Gary Tinterow, Lisa Mintz Messinger, and Nan Rosenthal. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 30–33, no. 7, ill. (color).
Karen Wilkin. "Miró's 'Dutch Interiors'." New Criterion 29 (November 2010), p. 42.