in 1884

Zinaida Serebriakova (1884-1967)
“Pierrot (Self portrait in the costume of Pierrot)” (1911)

Pierrot is a stock character of pantomime and Commedia dell'Arte whose origins are in the late seventeenth-century Italian troupe of players performing in Paris. His character in contemporary popular culture is that of the sad clown, pining for the love of Columbine, who usually breaks his heart and leaves him for Harlequin. The defining characteristic of Pierrot is his naïveté: he is seen as a fool, often the butt of pranks, yet nonetheless trusting.

The messages of the gods to each other travel not by pen and ink and indeed your bodily presence here would not make you more real: for I feel your fingers in my hair, and your cheek brushing mine. The air is full of the music of your voice, my soul and body seem no longer mine, but mingled in some exquisite ecstasy with yours. I feel incomplete without you.
—  Oscar Wilde to Constance Wilde, 16 December 1884