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Comédie-Française, Salle Richelieu

Victor Louis

alias Théâtre du Palais Royal, Théâtre Française de la rue Richelieu, Théâtre de la Republique
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1790 | Opening
Designed by the architect Victor Louis.
(detail)1798 | Alteration
Altered by architects and Moreau and Palaiseau.
(detail)1822 | Alteration
Several alterations are carried out by the architect Pierre Fontaine between 1822 and 1847.
(detail)1879 | Alteration
Carried out by architect Chabrol.
(detail)8.3.1900 | fire

(detail)1900 | Alteration
Renovated by Julien Guadet.

People

History

In the middle of the 18th century the majority of the theatre buildings in Paris were created in accordance with the Italian model. The shape of the rectangular auditorium was changed to an oval in order to provide a superior view for the spectators. Benches were placed into the parterre and the loges were decreased in size.

 

 

" The Théâtre Française is one hundred and fifty-six feet in length by one hundred and five in breadth, and its total height, to the summit of the terrace, is one hundred feet. It is surrounded by a covered gallery partly skirted with shops, from which three entrances lead into the vestibule. The principal front, towards the rue de Richelieu, presents a peristyle of eleven intercolumniations formed by pillars of the Doric order; another front, partly facing the rue de Montpensier, and partly attached to the Palais Royal, displays a range of arcades resting upon square pillars, and continued round the building, thus forming the covered gallery.    On both fronts is a range of Corinthian pilasters, with an entablature pierced by small windows; this mass is loaded with an attic, two other storeys, and an immense roof, terminated by a terrace.
The vestibule is of an elliptical form, and the ceiling, which rests upon two rows of fluted Doric columns placed concentrically, is adorned with sculpture.    In the centre is a fine statue in marble of Voltaire.  A communication is formed between the vestibule and the lobbies by four staircases.    The saloon, which is merely a passage, is adorned with busts.


The original decoration of this theatre consisted of five circular balconies, in very bad taste. In 1799, M. Moreau was charged to re-embellish it; but by the changes effected under his direction, it resembled a temple rather than a place of amusement. The absence of colours and gilding gave it a gloomy appearance, whilst two rows of heavy columns, painted in  imitation of marble, obstructed the view from the boxes.

The form of the house is elliptical and the ceiling represents the interior of an elliptic dome, pierced with lunettes, which serve for latticed boxes. The arch of the proscenium is remarkably light and elegant; the curtain, representing crimson velvet, adorned with gold fringe and tassels, is painted in the highest style. The king's box is hung with crimson velvet fringed with gold, and surmounted by the royal arms. The first and second tiers of boxes are supported by light pillars of cast iron; but at the fourth tier a range of Doric columns, which supports the ceiling, destroys the harmony of the ordonnance. The ground of the ceiling and the lining of the boxes are rose colour, forming a most disagreeable association with the crimson velvet which covers the rails, and adorns other parts of the house. The fronts of the boxes are ornamented with taste. "


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

 

 

Author: G. B Whittaker

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