Paul Cinquevalli with autograph
Late 19th to early 20th century
Sepia photograph with autograph in purple crayon
Museum no. TM 1966/A/153
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Paul Cinquevalli was the most famous juggler of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His career in the circus had started at the age of 12 when he was spotted in a gymnastic display at his Berlin school by a trapeze artist called Cinquevalli. Cinquevalli suggested that Paul become a professional gymnast but Paul's father had already decided that his son would be a musician. Within a week Paul was on the way to Russia, having run away with the circus. In Russia, Cinquevalli appeared as 'The Little Flying Devil' but after a fall from a trapeze, he had to give up acrobatics and decided to become a juggler. He first appeared in England in 1885 and was such a success that he settled in London. He appeared in circuses, music halls and pantomimes and was among the acts invited to appear in the music hall's first ever Royal Command Performance in 1912.