Why clowns have red noses.

If you were to stylize the image of the clown, if you were to find that one element that worn immediately transformed you into a clown, what would you choose? I am almost certain that you immediately thought of the red nose. The red nose of the clown is also called the smallest mask in the world.

But how did this little element become the symbol of being a clown?

Who invented it and why did it have an incredible diffusion?

My recent clown puppet doll
My recent clown puppet doll

The first forms of buffoon occurred already in the bacchanalia or Dionysian feasts then there were buffoons at the courts of the kings but in the Commedia Dell'Arte was outlined the character that became the progenitor of the clown.

1. flyer of the first equestrian circus 2. Joey Grimaldi 3. Trio Fratellini
1. flyer of the first equestrian circus 2. Joey Grimaldi 3. Trio Fratellini

In 1768 in London, Philip Astley, a former non-commissioned officer in cavalry, decided to exploit his great ability with horses in the show business, the first equestrian circus was born. It was so successful that slowly other numbers of acrobats, jugglers, human phenomena and the orchestra were added.


Many actors who belonged to the Commedia dell'Arte now work in the circus and the first real clowns were born, they performed between one number and another to give a lighter and more fun atmosphere to the show.

Joey Grimaldi, who came from the Commedia dell'Arte, was the first to develop a clown show.

Three of my works on clowns and court jesters.
Three of my works on clowns and court jesters.

It is said that the first idea of a red nose came thanks to an unpleasant episode, during a fall an actor knocked his nose which bled and that red on the white lead of the face made such a scenic effect that it was always used.


We must verily wait until 1920 for the red nose to be definitively adopted.


Probably the first to use the red nose was Albert Fratellini to symbolize the drunk's red nose. The origins of the red nose are uncertain, it is certain that it is truly such a distinctive feature that it seriously deserves the definition of the smallest mask in the world. Personally I love the figure of the clown. Clowns are one of my favorite subjects for dolls, above all I love melancholy and dreamy clowns, those who remember the imagination of the master Fellini.

Scrivi commento

Commenti: 2
  • #1

    Katy Poenaru (mercoledì, 15 gennaio 2020 12:11)

    I love clowns! As a child, I loved the Circus and my town was hosting frequently famous circus shows. If I forgot most of the performances, I keep close to my heart the show of a unique Russian clown, a performance full of poetry, gentleness, heartbreaking gestures and expressions. It was so unique that for me, till these days, he remained the embodiment of The Clown, with all its human tragedy and soulfulness.

  • #2

    Gioconda (mercoledì, 15 gennaio 2020 12:24)

    Hi Kathy! Do you remember his name?

Privacy Policy