This spectacular model, made of nearly 2,000 pieces, is a reproduction of the largest big top that ever existed, America’s Barnum Circus. Fitted with rings and two podiums, decorator and advertising artist Georges Berger (1888-1971) spent 40 years creating it. The big top, encircled by trompe l’oeil terrace seating filled with spectators holds three rings, with a fourth ring outside. 35 interchangeable circus numbers are presented in turn, powered by a motor. Animals, clowns, horse riders and acrobats all appear in the rings. For the artists, Georges Berger chose the most famous circus performers like the Sarrasani lion tamer dressed as a Maharaja and the clowns Grock, Boulicot and Recordier, Antonet and Béby, and the Fratellinis. The outdoor ring depicts a Far West scene. Around the big top are a circus wagon camp, a parade, a zoo, stables, a menagerie, a clown bar, boxing rings, freak shows, an Indian village, Buffalo Bill and the administrative office. Dozens of visitors in costume, ranging from the Belle Époque to the 1960s, stroll about. The people and animals are created out of fixed, painted, cardboard cut-outs.
In 1925, Pir’Ouett Circus received the gold medal at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris and was later exhibited to the public on multiple occasions. Many eye witnesses reported that Berger’s model was accompanied by music for the occasion and that its designer made the sound effects, hidden under the platform.