The historical context


Painted during the First World War, this is not simply a visual record of British seaside entertainment of the time. It could be viewed at another level, perhaps highlighting the tension and melancholy evoked by the war. There are many empty deckchairs in the audience. Are they perhaps to make us think about the young men who could be sitting there enjoying themselves but who in fact, have gone to war? Some of the men in the audience appear to have bandaged heads. Could this be a reference to the wounded soldiers from the war?
Detail from 'Brighton Pierrots': men wearing bandages

Pierrot shows had first appeared in Britain’s seaside resorts during the 1890s and offered great holiday family entertainment with their mixture of singing, dancing, music, acrobatics and comic sketches.