In 1928 and 1929, Nadelman executed three over-life-size sculptures of paired female circus performers. He laminated two of them with brownish-orange papier-mâché to simulate the look of unglazed terra-cotta. The present work was left white and for many years stood in the bay window of the downstairs drawing room of the artist's home in Riverdale. In this imposing position, it was a major feature of the house. Another version, in brown, was in the back studio.
Of these large female pairs, Barbara Haskell, writes, "Joined in a single contour, these figures radiated a serene equanimity and detachment from the world, evincing unquestioned trust in each other and imperviousness to the anxieties of the outside world. Uninterrupted by surface detail, their seamless, fluid curviliniarity endowed them with an elusive mystery, more psychologically nuanced than in any of Nadelman's previous work. Coupled in poses of gentle intimacy and private communication, these paired figures display an idealized stillness and secular grace that is totally human without being individualized. No longer was Nadelman striving to create types of essences; the timeless and eternal realm of perfection for which he now aimed was not one of roles—circus performer, acrobat, or dancer—but one of relationships."
After Nadelman's death in 1946, Lincoln Kirstein, the general director of the New York City Ballet, became an avid student, cataloguer and promoter of the artist's work. With the cooperation of Nadelman's wife, Viola, he had many of the artist's existing works refinished and repaired. He also arranged for others to be cast in more durable materials, such as the huge enlargement of the present work, in white Carrara marble, which now stands in the Promenade of the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center in New York. (Barbara Haskell, Elie Nadelman: Sculptor of Modern Life, New York, 2003, p. 169, 200)
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