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Midway Rubenesque

"Midway Rubenesque" is copyright    1999 by James G. Mundie. All rights reserved.  Reproduction prohibited.

Pen and ink, 8.75 x 6 inches, 1999

Although one can see people of enormous girth waddling down the streets every day, fat people have always been essential attractions in the world of the sideshow. No self-respecting ten-in-one could do without a fat man or fat woman — or an entire obese family — on the platform.

These rotund performers were given ironic names (Baby Thelma, Tiny Tina, etc.) and claimed hyperbolic weights that exceeded their actual poundage by several stones. Furthermore, with names like Happy Jack and Dolly Dimples, these performers were presented as jolly, comic figures.

Few artists in history have devoted so much paint and canvas to large women as did Peter Paul Rubens, so I thought I would present a classic sideshow fat lady as Rubens might have done — an apotheosis with flapping putti, tulips, and all.

Pitch items from Baby Thelma and several of her morbidly obese compatriots may be seen here.

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All Images and Text James G. Mundie 2003 - 2010