Pierrot and Harlequin are stock characters from Mardi Gras carnival. The somber mood of the picture and the melancholy expression of the figures are out of tune with the usually gay and spirited atmosphere evoked by this subject. Cezanne painted the picture in dense strokes, clearly designating the outlines. He exploited the juxtaposition of the model's customes - the loose white clothes of Pierrot and the close-fitting garment of Harlequin. The models for this work were Louis Guillaume (Pierrot) and the artist's son, Paul (Harlequin).