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Snake Charmer

1935 Dennis Burlingame Born: Oneida, New York 1901 Died: New York, New York 1964 oil on fiberboard 21 7/8 x 11 in. (55.5 x 28.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Olin Dows 1983.90.214 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 38B

Luce Center Label

Dennis Burlingame created many paintings based on his experiences in the circus. This image shows a snake charmer in the middle of her act, with a box full of snakes by her side. The generous curves of the woman’s figure and the curly pattern in the wallpaper echo the loops in the snake’s body as it winds around her shoulders. The shabby scenery and muted colors suggest the performer and her act might be past their best, and evoke the tawdry, marginal existence of circus folk.


Animal - reptile - snake

Figure female - full length

Object - furniture - chest

Performing arts - circus - animal tamer

State of being - other - obese


paint - oil


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