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[T. Kautzky Del] for Norman Bel Geddes & Company
Rendering of the interior of a circus tent for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Ca. 1940
Tempera and conte on paper

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Norman Bel Geddes Database

Job 424, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey, 1940-1949

Summary: Bel Geddes worked for John Ringling North's Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, creating dynamic posters and designing modular cages and wagons with improved fittings that facilitated easy transfer from rail to ground transport. He also discarded the traditional peaked circus tent in favor of a domed construction, which allowed a huge, completely unobstructed space that could accommodate as many as 2,000 people and a five-ring circus—a revolutionary re-thinking of a traditional structure.

In the Geddes-redesigned circus “menagerie,” animals were displayed against painted backgrounds that emphasized their natural habitats. Geddes also designed two spectacles for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus—a “King Cole and Mother Goose” spectacle in 1941 followed by a “Holiday” spectacle in 1942 as well as the costumes for a “Dance of the Elephants” ballet with choreography by George Balanchine and score by Igor Stravinsky.

The file also includes a bar design for the John Ringling North Hotel, 1944-1945.

Hunter Code: XT 2
Hunter Guide: page 150


(click image for description)

Box/Location Folder Description
flat file b 1-4 Renderings --- One pencil drawing of aerial view and plan of tent (b 1), three views showing tent in other natural settings (b 2), watercolor of ring carpet (b 3), ink of female costume (b 4).
flat file b 5 Renderings --- Tempera of female costume.
flat file b 6 Renderings --- Tempera and conté of interior circus tent.
flat file b 7 Renderings --- Pencil of exterior of circus tent.
flat file b 8 Renderings --- Watercolor of tiger head poster.
flat file b 9 Renderings --- Watercolor of full view of clown poster.
flat file b 10 Renderings --- Watercolor of girl and elephant poster.
flat file b 11 Renderings --- Watercolor of trainer and animal poster.
flat file b 12 Renderings --- Watercolor of "Holiday" poster.
flat file b 13 Renderings --- Watercolor of Apes poster.
flat file b 14-16 Renderings --- 43 Clown costumes by Wynn.
oversize box 25 b 17-19 Renderings --- 12 Costumes, 13 Floats.
theater box 203 c 1-4, 6 Costume Renderings --- 49 Sketches for King Cole.
oversize box 26 c 5 Costume Renderings --- Sketches for King Cole.
theater box 204 c 7-8 Costume Renderings --- Costume specification notebook.
theater box 204 c 9-17 Costume Renderings --- 136 Sketches for Holiday.
theater box 204 c 18-20 Costume Renderings --- 123 Sketches.
theater box 205 c 9 Costume Renderings --- 123 Sketches (cont.).
flat file c 24 Costume Renderings --- Costume charts.
flat file c 25-26 Costume Renderings --- 9 Sketches for Holiday, 13 for King Cole.
theater box 205 c 27 Costume Renderings --- 2 Sketches.
flat file d 1-28 Drawings --- Details of properties, floats.
theater box 205 e 1-3 Preliminary Sketches --- 18 Sketches tent, equipment, costume.
flat file f 1-7 Drawings --- Plans and elevations of sets, equipment.
flat file h 1-2 Photographs --- 2 Production photos.
theater box 205 h 3 Photographs --- Publicity photos of NBG and Ringling personnel.
theater box 205 h 4-5 Photographs --- Tent, tent models, midway models.
theater box 205 h 6-8 Photographs --- Productions and acts.
theater box 206 h 21-23 Photographs --- Productions and acts (cont.).
theater box 206 h 12-14 Photographs --- Posters.
theater box 206 h 15 Photographs --- Act.
theater box 206 h 16-17 Photographs --- Negatives.
theater box 206 h 18 Photographs --- John Ringling North Hotel bar designed by NBG.
theater box 206 h 19 Photographs --- Captions.
theater box 206 i 1, 3-4 Publicity --- Clippings, press releases 1940-1956.
flat file i 2 Publicity --- Clippings.
flat file i 5a Publicity --- Poster designed by NBG, "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus / The Greatest Show on Earth," with elephant and majorette.
flat file i 5b Publicity --- Poster designed by NBG, "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus / The Greatest Show on Earth," with clown holding umbrella.
flat file i 5c Publicity --- Poster designed by NBG, "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Present ... Holidays" (6 copies).
rolled storage i 6 Publicity --- 50 printed posters designed by NBG for circus.
theater box 207 j 1-2 Correspondence --- Agreement, client correspondence, memos 1940.
theater box 207 j 3-7 Correspondence --- Client correspondence, telephone transcriptions, memos 1941-1942.
flat file j 8 Correspondence --- Christmas card to NBG from Joan Geddes & circus.
theater box 207 j 9 Correspondence --- Costumes.
theater box 207 j 10-11 Correspondence --- Hotel bar design 1944-1945. Anton Refregier murals.
theater box 207 j 12-16 Correspondence --- Client correspondence, memos 1945-1949.
theater box 207 m 1-2 Programs 1941-1942.
flat file n 1 Photostats --- Poster designs.
theater box 207 n 2, 4, 6 Photostats --- Float, circus machines, kitchen units.
oversize box 26 n 3 Photostats --- Costume sketches.
flat file n 5, 7-9 Photostats --- Cages. Blueprints of plans, elevations.
theater box 207 n 10 Photostats --- Equipment sketches.
oversize box 26 n 11-13 Costumes, uniforms.
theater box 208 n 14 Costumes, uniforms.--- Blueprints of costume sketches.
theater box 208 o 1 Cost estimates. 1942 Budget.
theater box 208 p 1 Production Specifications --- NBG articles.
theater box 208 p 2-9 Production Specifications --- Costumes, uniforms, equipment specifications.
theater box 208 q 2 Source Material ---- Photostats of valentines.
theater box 208 q 3-4 Source Material ---- Programs 1948-1958. Route Books 1941-1955.
flat file r 1 Properties list King Cole.
theater box 208 u 1 Lighting plot.
oversize box 26 x 1 Presentation Book excerpts.
theater box 208 y 1 NBG comments in 'Diary of a Circus Project'. File inventory.
box 28 424.59 Hotel Bar remodel contract 4Dec1944. Negative envelope.
negative box 11 424.1 9 Negatives of NBG, others, elephants.

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