Eugène Scribe, the greatest dramatic author of the 19th centurye century

Eugène Scribe, the greatest dramatic author of the 19th century<sup>e</sup> century


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  • Les Huguenots - The Glass of Water, theater costumes.

  • The birthplace of Eugène Scribe in Paris.

    HEREAU Jules (1839 - 1879)

  • Eugène Scribe's castle in Séricourt.

    HEREAU Jules (1839 - 1879)

  • The Hotel d'Eugène Scribe in Paris.

    HEREAU Jules (1839 - 1879)

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Title: Les Huguenots - The Glass of Water, theater costumes.

Author :

Creation date : 1854

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 40.2 - Width 29.5

Technique and other indications: Paper, lithograph (gold, colored with a stencil) Printer: Pellerin & Cie (printer, publisher)

Storage location: Image Museum website

Contact copyright: © Image Museum - H. Rouyer and E. Erfani

Picture reference: 990.1.1122 B

Les Huguenots - The Glass of Water, theater costumes.

© Image Museum - H. Rouyer and E. Erfani

To close

Title: The birthplace of Eugène Scribe in Paris.

Author : HEREAU Jules (1839 - 1879)

Creation date : 1852

Date shown: 1852

Dimensions: Height 151 - Width 56

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: National Museum of the Château de Compiègne website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Picture reference: 00-030537 / C.29.015; C.38.2626

The birthplace of Eugène Scribe in Paris.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

To close

Title: Eugène Scribe's castle in Séricourt.

Author : HEREAU Jules (1839 - 1879)

Creation date : 1852

Date shown: 1852

Dimensions: Height 151 - Width 56

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: National Museum of the Château de Compiègne website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot website

Picture reference: 00-030547 / C.29.020

Eugène Scribe's castle in Séricourt.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

To close

Title: The Hotel d'Eugène Scribe in Paris.

Author : HEREAU Jules (1839 - 1879)

Creation date : 1852

Date shown: 1852

Dimensions: Height 151 - Width 56

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: National Museum of the Château de Compiègne website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot website

Picture reference: 00-030541 / C.29.017; C.38.2631

The Hotel d'Eugène Scribe in Paris.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: October 2006

Historical context

An exceptional career

At the end of 1857, when he commissioned the painter Jules Héreau for six wall panels retracing his life in order to place them in the mansion he had just built rue Pigalle, Eugène Scribe (1791-1861) could rightly s 'to be proud of having become, in a fifty-year career, the most performed and appreciated French playwright, at home and abroad. In 1820, the Théâtre du Gymnase-Dramatique was specially opened to represent his “comedies-vaudevilles”, which obtained immense success. Around 1830, Scribe tackled the official stages - as illustrated by the costume board published by the imagery of Épinal: at the Comédie-Française (where he was the most performed contemporary author in the XIXe century), Scribe gives historical comedies (Bertrand and Raton, 1833 ; The Glass of Water, 1840) or contemporary (Friendship, 1837 ; Chain, 1841), while he established himself in the Opera as the best librettist of his time and the creator of the "grand opera" (The Jewess with Halévy, 1835; The Huguenots with Meyerbeer, 1836). Severely attacked at the end of his life and despised after his death, Scribe nonetheless remains a central figure in the dramatic and lyrical theater of the 19th century.e century, in relation to which all his colleagues and all his successors had, willy-nilly, to position themselves. His theater has influenced Ibsen as well as Oscar Wilde and Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

Image Analysis

An author and his work

In the 1850s, Eugène Scribe was both a recognized personality (a theater bearing his name was inaugurated in Turin in 1858) and an author challenged by the literary avant-garde. His repertoire, especially his new pieces, is not well received in Paris, but it remains highly acclaimed in the provinces and abroad. This is evidenced by the costume board that the famous Pellerin d'Épinal house published in 1854. The lithograph includes nineteen characters from Huguenots (1836), opera in five acts by Scribe and Meyerbeer, and five characters from Glass of water, comedy in five acts of 1840. These two works are among Scribe's most famous: the first tells the tragic love of the Protestant Raoul and the Catholic Valentine at the time of Saint Bartholomew, and the second, subtitled "The effects and the causes", shows how a glass of water spilled on the dress of Queen Anne caused a change of ministry in England at the beginning of the XVIIIe century. The lithograph presents the main characters of opera and comedy, as well as scenes from St. Bartholomew's Day and two dancers, a ballet being compulsory in any "grand opera".

When he commissioned panels from Jules Héreau, Scribe made the choice not to show any theater stage, but to evoke the places which marked his life: his birthplace, the Sainte-Barbe college, the Gymnase Theater, his castle. de Séricourt, the Institute and its mansion on rue Pigalle. The first canvas shows the house on rue Saint-Denis where the writer was born in 1791. His father ran a silk business there, under the Cat Noir sign.

Located in Seine-et-Marne, near La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, the domain of Séricourt was bought in 1835 by Scribe who, from then on, devoted a large part of his fortune to its embellishment, for example creating the lake located at foreground of the table.

Built on land bought in 1853, the mansion on rue Pigalle, finally, quickly turned out to be a bad financial operation that considerably darkened Scribe's last years. Did Héreau foresee it by pointing to the Scribe couple leaving the rich house? By founding the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers in 1829, the writer had nevertheless promoted the notion of copyright and had managed to enrich himself considerably.

Interpretation

The bourgeoisie in majesty

The work of Eugène Scribe is a faithful reflection of the bourgeois mentalities of his time. The bourgeois public likes plays with a historical subject. If, in The Glass of Water, the story is just a decorative frame, Scribe, in The Huguenots, seeks to deliver a message of tolerance. The significant resources at the Paris Opera's disposal allow it to offer a meticulous historical reconstruction, and the work, as Pellerin's plate testifies, shows the horrors of fanaticism.

Often featuring the aristocracy in his plays, Scribe does not mean to deny his origins. When he called on the realist painter Jules Héreau (1839-1880), future curator of the Louvre during the Commune, it was the success of a bourgeois who owed everything to his work that he asked him to illustrate. Few happy memories are associated with the shop on rue Saint-Denis, Scribe's parents having divorced in 1794. But the writer insisted that this canvas be painted, so as not to deny its origins. One might think that one of the two women in the foreground is her mother, whose death in 1807 was a profound trauma. Another female figure, his wife Julie - a widow who remarried to him in 1841 - animates the painting dedicated to Séricourt, a veritable haven of peace where the couple liked to lead, in Scribe's own words, "the life of a lord and lady of the chateau, holding open table and house, accommodating [their] parents and [their] friends all season long ”.

The painting representing the hotel in the rue Pigalle wants to suggest the same opulence and the same tranquility, but in 1857 Scribe wrote: “I have finished building, but not yet decorating, my beautiful hotel, much too beautiful and which will come to me much too dear for my modest fortune. »Finally, in 1859, the Scribe couple had to resolve to rent part of their home which, sold in 1865, housed at the end of the century the offices of Mr.e Labori, Zola’s lawyer in the Dreyfus case. In 1928, the hotel was demolished to make room for the Pigalle Theater, which was in turn demolished.

  • bourgeoisie
  • costumes
  • opera
  • Scribe (Eugene)
  • theater
  • Ibsen (Henrik)
  • actor
  • Offenbach (Jacques)
  • Wilde (Oscar)

Bibliography

Jean-Claude YON, Eugène Scribe, fortune and liberty, Saint-Genouph, Nizet Bookstore, 2000.Sets, paper theaters, the People's Theater in Bussang, catalog of the Musée de l'Image exhibition, July 2, 2005 - May 8, 2006, Épinal, Musée de l'Image, 2005.The Parisian at home in the 19th century, 1814-1914, catalog of the National Archives exhibition, Hôtel de Rohan, November 1976-February 1977, Paris, Les Presses d'Artistes, 1976.

To cite this article

Jean-Claude YON, “Eugène Scribe, the greatest dramatic author of the XIXe century "


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