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Salle des Machines

Louis Le Vau

alias Théâtre des Tuileries
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)7.2.1662 | opening
Opened by l'Ercole Amante by Francesco Cavalli.
(detail)23.5.1871 | fire
The building was completely destroyed by fire.

People

Louis Le Vau |main architect
(detail)Gaspare Vigarani |architect
Vigarani's outdoor theater on the picture.More theatres

Noël Coypel |painter

History

A small but well-equipped theatre in the Tuileries, built by Vigarani in 1660 to house the spectacular shows given in honour of the marriage of Louis XIV. It continued in use for many years for Court enter­tainments and was later under the control of the artist and scenic designer Jean Berain. It was, however, under Servandony that it reached the height of its splendour, many magnificent spectacles being given there with his designs and machinery.

 

In: Hartnoll, Phyllis, ed. The concise Oxford companion to the theatre. 1st ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1972.   ISBN 0-19-281102-9. p. 490

 

"The form of the house was an oblong square, terminating in a semicircle. From the front of the stage it was ninety-three feet in length by fifty-two in breadth, and forty-two in height. Three rows of steps surrounding the pit, which alone was capable of containing fourteen hundred spectators standing, and an amphitheatre with seats affording more than twelve hundred places, served as a basement for two ranges of Corinthian columns and galleries ; a third range rested upon the entablature of the second. Behind these ranges were amphitheatres, each containing more than seven hundred places. The bases and capitals of the columns, as well as the cornices and balustrades, were richly gilt. The ceiling, magnificently sculptured and gilt after the designs of Lebrun, was adorned with paintings by Noel Coypel.
The proscenium was unencumbered with boxes, and presented grand columns of the composite order, sup-porting an elliptical arch surmounted by an attic and a pediment. The stage was one hundred and thirty-seven feet in depth by sixty-four in breadth.

....

The theatre is approached by a vestibule which communicates with the chapel, and by a grand staircase leading to the upper storeys. On a level with the first tier of boxes is a saloon decorated with columns of the Ionic order, which communicates at its extremities with the box lobbies, and by three intercolumniations in the centre with the stairs of the galleries and the royal box. The house forms a square with a circular part attached to one of its sides. A basement which extends round the house supports a colonnade of the Ionic order.
In front of the colonnade is a tier of boxes destined for the most distinguished spectators. At the bottom the colonnade is detached, and the royal box occupies three intercolumniations. The pit is formed of the square part in the centre. In the basement are the baignoire. The back wall of the circular colonnade is adorned with bas-reliefs. Between the columns on the sides is a second tier of boxes decorated with rich green draperies fastened with gold. Above the entablature under the arches is a third tier of boxes. An elliptical dome rests upon the four arches. The archivault of the proscenium is supported by four projecting columns, between which are boxes decorated with draperies.
All the architecture is painted to represent violet breccia, with mouldings richly gilt. The draperies are light green. The dome, the friezes, and the arches are sumptuously decorated with figures and other ornaments. The curtain is a drapery in ample folds and richly ornamented."

 

In:  Whittaker, G. B.: The History of Paris from the Earliest Period to the Present Day: Vol. II. London, 1825 p. 501 - 504

 

In 1661, Mazarin invited Gaspare Vigarani to build a theatre in the Tuileries. This opened in January 1662 and lasted for many years in spite of serious deficiencies. The deep stage (132 feet) gave wonderful opportunities for scenic invention. Many architects, despairing of ever seeing their schemes actually built, had the consolation of building them in canvas on Vigarani's stage. The machinery was of such elaboration that it became known as the Salle des Machines, but the acoustics were so bad that few of the £,ooo spectators could ever hear what was going on. Vigarani's son returned to France later and collaborated with Le Vau in building theatres for fetes at Versailles

 

In: Tidworth, Simon : Theatres: An Illustrated History. London 1973 p. 74

 

 

Authors: Hartnoll Phyllis, G. B Whittaker, Simon Tidworth

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