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Théâtre National de la rue de la Loi

Victor Louis

alias Théâtre des Arts, Salle Montansier, Théâtre de la République et des Arts, Théâtre Montansier, Salle de la rue de Richelieu
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)16.8.1793 | opening

(detail)1820 | demolishion



"This edifice, detached on all sides by four streets, formed a parallelogram of one hundred and seventy-five feet in length, by one hundred and sixteen in breadth. A spacious portico, the whole breadth of the building, enclosed by eleven arcades, was decorated on the outside with festoons, suspended between consoles which supported a balcony along the entire front: being level with the street, and enclosed with iron gates, it afforded a commodious entrance.
The vestibule, sixty-six feet in length by twenty-four in breadth, was decorated with two rows of columns of the Doric order, which supported a ceiling ornamented with arabesques in relief.
At the first story was the saloon, divided into three parts. That of the centre, sixty feet in length, had five windows which opened to the balcony. The two other parts were each thirty feet in length, and had five windows, three of which opened towards the front, and two towards the sides. It was decorated with columns of the Ionic order, and mirrors.
The house was of a quadrilateral curvilinear form, divided by eight fluted projecting Ionic columns, in pairs. Above the columns was a rich entablature, which supported four vast arches, surmounted by a circular cornice, crowned with an elliptical dome fifty four feet in diameter.

The house, measured at the pit, was fifty-six feet in length by fifty-three in breadth; but, taken between the columns, it was sixty-four feet in diameter.   The columns were twenty-three feet in height, and the house from the pit to the ceiling was sixty feet.    Of the four spacious intervals between the pairs of columns, one served for the opening of the stage.    The two angular columns of this opening, with two other columns at right angles, formed the proscenium, which was forty-two feet wide. The three other spaces were occupied by four tiers of boxes; the first between the bases of the columns, the second and third in the height of the shaft, and the fourth above the entablature.    Projecting balconies between the pairs of columns and at the proscenium corresponded with these several tiers of boxes.    The openings of the three arches afforded a view of a fifth row of spectators.
The spaces between the arches were pierced with lunetta perpendicular to the balconies in the small intercolumniations. The columns, which were thirty-two inches in diameter, had their fluting open, and thus formed small latticed boxes. At the back of the pit was a spacious amphitheatre, and on the sides were baignoires. This house, which possessed the largest pit in Paris, contained two thousand three hundred spectators.
The richness and taste of the decorations corresponded with the magnificence of the representations. The first tier of boxes was ornamented with musical instruments in relief and gilt; the second and third  tiers were decorated with blue draperies and gold ornaments. The capitals and flutings of the columns were gill, the entablature was richly carved, and the frieze formed of gilt foliage. All the arches, the lunetta and archivaults were magnificently adorned, particularly the front and arch of the proscenium.  The balconies between the columns were hung with curtains trimmed with rich fringe.
The dome was divided into three circular bands, each containing sixteen compartments. Those of the lower band were decorated in garlands with masks and busts of the celebrated poets of antiquity; those of the upper band were ornamented with roses. The ground of the middle band represented the sky. In eight pannels were coloured figures of the nine Muses. In intermediate pannels were large medallions, containing images of the principal divinities: Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Mars, Juno, Venus, Diana, Ceres. These medallions were supported by groups, and crowned by attributes analogous to the deities they represented.

At its first construction the proscenium was surmounted by an entablature, between which and the arch were compartments adorned with roses. Above the entablature was a group of winged genii, bearing the inscription “AUX ARTS”. There were originally no stage-boxes in this theatre. The intervals between the columns were ornamented with four figures representing tragedy, comedy, music, and dancing, placed in niches richly decorated, and surmounted by bas-reliefs of infantile sports emblematical of the arts.
The dome, painted by Robin, presented genii driving back clouds, and discovering a spot in which all the fine arts connected with the stage were assembled. Light was thrown on this grand composition in a manner which gave it a most beautiful effect. The clouds which the genii drove back being painted upon a portion of the dome separate from and rather lower than the other part, allowed a space for lamps, which were concealed from the spectator, and shed a strong light upon the dome; whilst the clouds were seen only by the general light of the house."


In:  Whittaker, G. B.: The History of Paris from the Earliest Period to the Present Day: Vol. II. London, 1825 p. 474 - 477





Author: G. B Whittaker

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