Incredible Vintage Circus Photos from the ‘40s and ‘50s

Early circus photographers like Frederick Whitman Glasier — who often dressed like his idol, “Buffalo Bill” Cody — spent a large part of their careers snapping shots of daily life in Wild West shows and traveling circuses across America. Their documentation of these incredible and often strange performers revealed a stunning juxtaposition of hard living and garish glamour that has since evolved into now famous acts like Cirque du Soleil. Taschen’s The Circus Book: 1870-1950 compiled the works of these photographers — like Edward Kelty, Mathew Brady, Cornell Capa, Charles and Ray Eames, and even Stanley Kubrick — and included some of the earliest color photos ever taken of the circus from the 1940s and ‘50s. We’ve shared several of those images past the break, thanks to website Easy Dreamer. Relive some old-time circus magic, below.

Image credit: The Circus Book: 1870-1950