Laura Knight fell in love with the circus. This is probably Fred Carmo's, where the clowns Goliath (on the left) and the doleful Zolli (on the right) appeared. Goliath's task was to alter Zolli's melancholic expression - hence the painting's title. Even though he performed on the circus ring sidewalk while other acts were taking place, such was the strength of Goliath's personality that the audience - as in this instance - were fixated on him. Knight depicted him several times.
It was a railway porter at Paddington station who first suggested to the artist that she would find a good subject at Fosset's Circus, at the Agricultural Hall, Islington. The following Christmas, her good friend Munnings introduced her to Captain Bertram Mills at Olympia. Mills allowed her to paint backstage, and in 1929, when he teamed up with the Great Carmo, she spent six months under canvas touring the south coast of England. For the next two seasons she spent many months of the year with the company.
We are grateful to R. John Croft, FCA, the artist's great nephew, for his help in preparing this catalogue entry. The picture will be featured in his forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné of the artist's work.