"poor Pierrot braying in the square"

Well known through the art of mime, Pierrot is a stock character with origins in the Commedia dell'arte.  A group of Italian actors called the 'Comédie-Italienne' are thought to have developed the character in Paris.  He epitomises the idea of the 'sad clown'; trusting, naive, foolish and always heartbroken, with unrequited love for a soubrette named Columbine.  He was traditionally portrayed with a whitened face and loose white clothing to emphasise his innocent nature.  What is fascinating about poor Pierrot is the way different groups and cultural movements have taken ownership of him over the centuries.  The Symbolists, for example, claimed kinship with his suffering and sensitivity; the Romantics and Modernists also expressed empathy.  For this reason, he can be thought of as one of the few male muses; his white apparel truly makes him a blank canvas.