the Whiteface can be traced back through commedia dell'arte and medieval court jesters to the theaters of Ancient Greece, where comedic actors frequently painted their features white so they could be better seen.

The Whiteface is the big brother of the clowning world: in charge, a know-it-all, a straight man setting up the situations that other clowns, like the Auguste or the Tramp, turn funny. The customary features of the Whiteface include a full white face, red-and-white features (often quite beautiful and delicate), a colorful outfit, and a wig.

The Whiteface can be further divided into three groups[]

  • The Classic (European) Whiteface,sometimes called the 'most majestic and beautiful' of the Whitefaces; an elegant clown, like the Pierrot or Harlequin of commedia dell'arte;
  • The Straight Whiteface, similar to the Classic but more colorful, more cheerful; and
  • The Grotesque Whiteface, similar to the Straight Whiteface in color and cheer, but zanier, with exaggerated features and clothes.
  • The Mime, also an elegant clown, known of course for not speaking but emoting through body language and facial expressions.