Throughout his artistic career Somov continued to experiment with the theme of ancient Italian 'Commedia dell'Arte' and its harlequins, enigmatic women with masks, Pierrot, fireworks and masquerade. His most well-known paintings on this subject are: 'Harlequin and Death' (1907), 'Pierrot and a lady' (1910), 'Girl with a letter' (1912), 'Harlequin and a lady' (1912), 'Harlequin in love' (1912), 'Italian comedy' (1914), 'Columbine's gossip' (1915), 'A gallant scene' (1918), 'Harlequin and a lady' (1921), 'Carnival' (1926) and 'Festivity on the outskirts of Venice' (1930). For another version of 'Harlequin and Death', dated 1918, please refer to lot 385 in the Important Russian Pictures catalogue, 28 November 2007.
The present oil appears to be Somov's last painting on this subject and has never before been reproduced. It can be seen on Somov's easel beside the artist himself (fig. 1).