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I. 17 t h Century Theatre: Molière Le Misanthrope   Neoclassicalism: The Beginning Neoclassicalism

I. 17 th Century Theatre:

Molière
Molière
Le Misanthrope  

Le Misanthrope

 
Neoclassicalism: The Beginning

Neoclassicalism: The Beginning

Neoclassicalism  

Neoclassicalism

 
Comedy of Manners & Molière  

Comedy of Manners & Molière

 
Theatre Buildings  

Theatre Buildings

 
Theatre Design  

Theatre Design

 

II. 17 th Century France:

A. Life with Louis

The Monarchy

The Monarchy

Military Life
Military Life
The Guards
The Guards
Paris & Salons  

Paris & Salons

 
Frivolous Ornamentation

Frivolous Ornamentation

Beards of Men  

Beards of Men

 
Corsets
Corsets

B. French Baroque

Residential Architecture

Residential Architecture

Baroque Music  

Baroque Music

 
The Court of Louis XIV  

The Court of Louis XIV

 

III. Glossary

B. French Baroque Residential Architecture Baroque Music   The Court of Louis XIV   III. Glossary

17th Century Theatre

Molière

Molière (1622-1673): Born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, Molière changed his name so as not to

dishonor his family. He began as an actor and formed the Théâtre Illustre with actors from the Béjart family. His troupe went bankrupt and he was imprisoned for debt. After his release from debtors prison his troupe toured outside of Paris. During their tours of the provinces Molière began writing his own plays following the neoclassical guidelines. He wrote his dialogue in rhyming couplets and although he wrote tragedies and comedies, he is best known for his comedies. Influenced by commedia dell’arte, many of his characters resemble stock characters. Louis XIV allowed Molière’s troupe to share a theatre with another troupe, but they had difficulty sharing the funds. The king made Molière’s troupe the King’s Men in 1665 and they finally had financial stability.

Molière wrote many of the troupe’s plays in addition to managing and acting. His plays were usually popular with audiences but some were banned from being performed. Molière is considered the creator of modern French comedy.

Le Misanthrope

Written by Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) The Misanthrope was first performed in 1666 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, Paris by the King's Players.

As a 17th century comedy of manners the play satirizes the hypocrisies of French aristocratic society, but it also engages a more serious tone when pointing out the flaws which all humans possess. The play differs from other farces at the time by employing dynamic characters like Alceste and Célimène as opposed to the traditionally flat characters used by most satirists to criticize problems in society. It also differs from most of Molière's other works by focusing more on character development

Neoclassicalism: The Beginning

In the sixteenth century France was in turmoil. During the same time Spain and England were prospering as both countries were unifying under their rulers, making the Renaissance in each country similar. The Renaissance in France began in a different way than in countries at peace. In France there was a civil war between Catholics and Huguenots (Protestants). This civil unrest lasted until 1594 when Henri IV converted to Catholicism and issued a proclamation insuring the equality of the Protestants (a little thing called the Edict of Nantes). There was finally stability in the seventeenth century under rulers like Louis XIV and this stability allowed the Renaissance to enter France in full swing.

Instead of adopting theatre techniques from England or Spain, France had an Italian flair to their Renaissance. The Renaissance in France is often referred to as French Neoclassicism because they wanted to revive the classical ideals of the Romans and Greeks.

There are multiple reasons for the Italian influence on French theatre:

A very powerful Italian family, the Medicis, married French royalty

Cardinal Mazarin (also an Italian) ruled the country while Louis XIV was still too

young

Italian Commedia troupes traveled to France

Italian scenic designer Giacomo Torelli was called to France to update French

theatres.

In the sixteenth century the literary group Pleiade published plays. They were not as innovative as they were blatant reworkings of classical plays.

Court entertainments in the late sixteenth century involved elaborate costumes and spectacle but lacked the plot development of conventional drama

Alexandre Hardy began writing at the end of the sixteenth century and was the first professional playwright in France. His plays did not, however, follow the neoclassical rules

Neoclassicalism

In 1636 Cardinal Richelieu wanted to establish guidelines for the arts. He gave a group of academics a charter to become an academy (based on Italian academies), and so the French Academy as born. If there was ever a question about whether a play followed the rules of neoclassicism, the Academy would evaluate the play and announce their decision.

Plays had to follow these rules:

Decorum: ideal which deals with the behavior of characters on stage; characters had to behave in a manner suiting the station of life they were portraying Characters had to act in a way that was appropriate based on their social status, wealth, race, etc. and in a way morally acceptable Verisimilitude: Action had to be representative of everyday life (no supernatural elements) Unity of Time: Action of the entire play takes place within one 24 hour period Unity of Place: Action took place in one locale, which was open to some interpretation Unity of Action: No more than one plot with few characters Genre: Tragedy and Comedy should never be mixed, every play's purpose was to teach a lesson.

The Heroic Tragedy

The Comedy of Manners

heroes and heroines faced exaggerated conflicts between love and honour.

pictures the carefree, immoral world of the aristocracy.

characters expressed noble ideals in high sounding speeches (couplets).

example: Dryden, All for Love, based on

brilliant, witty comedies.

"virtue" comes form succeeding in catching a lover or cuckolding a husband without getting caught

Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra.

"honor" comes from reputation, not integrity.

"witty"saying things in clever ways.

influenced by the comedies of Moliere in France.

example: Tartuffe, by Moliere; or The Country Wife, by Wycherley.

Comedy of Manners & Molière

comedy of manners, witty, cerebral form of dramatic comedy that depicts and often satirizes the
comedy of manners, witty, cerebral form of dramatic
comedy that depicts and often satirizes the manners and
affectations of a contemporary society. A comedy of
manners is concerned with social usage and the question
of whether or not characters meet certain social
standards.
Often the governing social standard is morally trivial but
exacting. The plot of such a comedy, usually concerned
with an illicit love affair or similarly scandalous matter,
is
subordinate to the play’s brittle atmosphere, witty
dialogue, and pungent commentary on human foibles.
One of the greatest exponents of the comedy of manners
was Molière, who satirized the hypocrisy and pretension
of 17th-century French society in such plays as L’École
des femmes (The School for Wives) and Le Misanthrope
(The Misanthrope).
A
main feature of Molière’s technique is a mixing of
registers, or of contexts. Characters are made to play a
part, then forget it, speak out of turn, overplay their role,
so that those who watch this byplay constantly have the
suggestion of mixed registers Molière’s Misanthrope is
even more suggestive in his confusion of justice as an
ideal and as a social institution:
Moliere's Comedies were popular among all classes,
depending on whom the subject matter happened to be
about. Furthermore, Moliere insisted on truthfully
depicting the vices and follies of all people. He used the
same keen eye for human foibles that many standup
comics use to create memorable characters. His
comedies have elements of commedia, but are more
realistic than the stereotyped characters of commedia

Theatre Buildings

The first public theatre in France was the Hotel de Bourgogne in Paris, completed in

1548.

If acting troupes wanted to perform they would have to the Hotel de Bourgogne, or use a temporary theatre. To create temporary theatres, tennis courts were modified. Tennis courts were long narrow buildings similar to the Hotel de Bourgogne and they already had built-in seating. In 1634 one of these converted tennis courts became Theatre du Marais, permanently opened in 1634.

In 1641 another important theatre was built, this time by Cardinal Richelieu. He named it Palais Cardinal and it was the first proscenium-arch theatre in France. It also employed scene-shifting machinery.

it Palais Cardinal and it was the first proscenium-arch theatre in France. It also employed scene-shifting
it Palais Cardinal and it was the first proscenium-arch theatre in France. It also employed scene-shifting
it Palais Cardinal and it was the first proscenium-arch theatre in France. It also employed scene-shifting
it Palais Cardinal and it was the first proscenium-arch theatre in France. It also employed scene-shifting
it Palais Cardinal and it was the first proscenium-arch theatre in France. It also employed scene-shifting

Theatre Design

Until the seventeenth century scenic design was still based on Medieval practices. Around mid-century the Italian designer Giacomo Torelli was brought to France, Torelli would go to theatres like Palais-Royal and install his pole-and-chariot system of scene change and to accommodate the machinery he often needed to enlarge the playing space. The stage was built to be six feet high, 49 feet wide and 48 feet deep. If you look at the diagram you can see individual panels on the stage. Each of these panels were painted with scenery and were called wing-and-shutter scenery.

with scenery and were called wing-and-shutter scenery. This kind of paneled scenery was too elaborate to
with scenery and were called wing-and-shutter scenery. This kind of paneled scenery was too elaborate to

This kind of paneled scenery was too elaborate to move by hand in the middle of a performance and so the Italians invented this system to facilitate. They attached poles to these panels which ran under the stage. These poles were then attached to small "chariots", wheeled machinery on tracks. When the flats needed to be changed, turning a crank could move a series of chariots at once and easily glide these flats on and off stage. Slowly all the popular theatres in France updated their systems based on Italian scenic innovations.

17th Century France

Life with Louis

The Monarchy

 

During the 1600s, France functioned under the control of an increasingly powerful monarch, fought in a series of wars, and fostered a thriving literary culture. The Misanthrope was written and first performed under the rein of King Louis the XIV.

The

French monarchy consolidated power over the course of the 17th Century, moving

toward an absolutism perhaps best exemplified by Louis XIV’s alleged declaration:

―L’Etat, c’est moi,‖ or ―the state is me.‖ The King was seen as a figure ordained by God

and

swathed in glory, whose most trivial whim influenced the lives of nobles and the

daily doings of Parisian citizens.

 

Louis XIII was only eight years old when Henry IV was murdered. He could not be king until age thirteen and a day, so on 15 May 1610, Marie de' Medici, his mother, became regent. He was largely considered an ineffectual ruler. Indeed, throughout Louis XIII’s rule, the King seemed a figurehead, while Cardinal Richelieu largely directed affairs of state. When Louis XIII died in 1643 (only a year after Richelieu), he left France in the hands of his four-year-old, Louis XIV. France once more came under the regency of a boy King’s mother, while Cardinal Mazarin took up Richelieu’s position and power. Even after Louis XIV came of age in 1651, the Cardinal and the Queen continued to weigh heavily on matters of governance; Louis wouldn’t take full control until Mazarin’s death in 1661.

XIV

rein lasted from 1643 to 1715, throughout never lost the hold over his people he had

assumed at the beginning. He worked hard to project his authority in the splendid setting of Versailles and to depict it in his arrogant motto ―Nec pluribus impar‖ (―None

his equal‖) and in his sun emblem.

 

Military Life

Unlike today’s armies, those of the 17th Century tended to be loose collections of privately financed companies not bound by any common protocol or procedures, often owing more allegiance to their individual commanders than a national flag. Without a unified set of standards or cohesive royal control, companies were left to dictate their own rules and procedures. Within the military, many a French noblemanparticularly younger sons who lacked the luxury of inheriting the family propertyfound a career. Entering the army as cadets and training to become officers, noblemen were elevated above the common soldier and given the chance to perform dashing deeds of war, perhaps to fashion themselves as heroes.

―Never fear quarrels, but seek hazardous adventures. [F]ight on all occasions; fight the more for duels being forbidden, since, consequently, there is twice as much courage in fighting.‖ -Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

In or out of battle, French noblemen carried their swords, ever ready to defend slights against their honor. The most trifling quibbles could provoke a man to throw down his glove and challenge the offender, and dueling was so rampant that Richelieu had attempted (unsuccessfully) to ban the practice in 1626. Duels were not necessarily fatal, and need not even involve bloodshed; one’s honor rather than one’s life stood at stake.

The Guards

The French Guard (Gardes Françaises) was an esteemed regiment formed by King Charles IX in 1563. Composed chiefly of nobles between 18 and 50 years of age, the Guards enjoyed extensive privileges: as the king’s company, they could stake out the most advantageous position on a battlefield. In 1640, there were 30 companies in the French Guards, each composed of 200 men. And from 1639-1671, the French Guard was commanded by one Antoine de Guiche.

Paris & Salons

Paris & Salons If one wanted to be near the pulse of culture or even near
Paris & Salons If one wanted to be near the pulse of culture or even near
Paris & Salons If one wanted to be near the pulse of culture or even near
If one wanted to be near the pulse of culture or even near people, Paris

If one wanted to be near the pulse of culture or even near people, Paris was a must. Seat of the royal court (until Louis XIV relocated to Versailles in 1682), Paris attracted the most prestigious of the elite and directed the fashions and customs of the day. As a bustling center of culture and society, Paris provided intellectual

discourse alongside the spiciest gossip and amusing entertainment; there was always something to hear, always something to do.

As a part of both its social and intellectual scene, Paris hosted a growing collection of salons, gatherings that fostered lively conversation revolving around literature and language. While men were welcome to and did attend, women predominated in these salons.

At a time when society was defined and regulated almost completely by men, women could be a powerful influence only in the salon. Women were the center of the life in the salon and carried a very important role as regulators. They can select their guests and decide about the subjects of their meetings. Those subjects can be social, literary, or political. They also had the role as mediator by directing the discussion.

The salon was really an informal university for women in which women were able to exchange ideas, receive and give criticism, read their own works and hear the works and ideas of other intellectuals. Many ambitious women used the salon to pursue a form of higher education.

In the midst of a society that tended to restrict women, salons gave ladies of all ages an opportunity to participate in the day’s learned discourse. Out of these salons came the précieuses, women who sought to rise above the rabble by means of polished intellect and decorous behavior.

came the précieuses, women who sought to rise above the rabble by means of polished intellect

Frivolous Ornamentation

17th-century French fashion favored elaborate decoration in men’s clothing, particularly for nobles. Frivolous ornamentation, far from seeming effeminate, was a sign of status and wealth, and accessories such as gloves, frills, bows, and braids were de rigueur for the well-to-do. Such privileges of frippery were reserved for the upper crust; indeed, all men and women were expected to dress in accordance with their class and rank. To do otherwise would have been effrontery, not to mention impossibly expensive for most anyone outside of the nobilityeven some of the most elite risked bankrupting themselves on their fashions.

for most anyone outside of the nobility — even some of the most elite risked bankrupting

Beards of Men

The Vandyke style became popular for many men in 17 th Century France:

style became popular for many men in 17 th Century France: The Flemish painter, Sir Anthony

The Flemish painter, Sir Anthony Vandyke (1599-1641) painted so many aristocrats with a pointed type of beard that it became known as the Vandyke beard. They were dressed with pomade or wax, applied with a tiny brush and comb.

with pomade or wax, applied with a tiny brush and comb. In 1637, Louis XIII triumphed

In 1637, Louis XIII triumphed over the Spanish influence when he amused himself by shaving his courtiers, leaving only a tiny lip beard "a la royale" or "la mouche", a custom adopted by the French and Dutch cavaliers.

Corsets The French say “Il faut souffrir pour etre belle.” One must suffer to be
Corsets
The French say “Il faut souffrir pour etre belle.” One must suffer to be beautiful.
Corsets were first worn during the 16th century and remained a feature of fashionable
dress until the 1789 French Revolution.
The 16th century costume was upheld as a symbol of position, rank, and wealth. The
corset played a large part in displaying a person's position. In the French court, under
the influence of Italian-born Catherine de Medici, ladies in waiting were instructed to
cinch their waists to a size no bigger than thirteen inches around. Even given the
difference in average body size of a woman in modern times, thirteen inches would have
been extreme.
It was also in this court that a steel framework corset was introduced. Usually made up
of four plates with perforation ornamental designs, they were connected at the sides and
front while leaving the back open to get in and out of. It is argued whether the metal
corsets were a normal item in a woman's clothing collection, if they were used for an
orthopedic purpose, or if they were a sign of rank since a knight's armor during this
period was more for show than function.
During the 17th century, there was a space of time when politics across Europe
demanded a less extravagant use of fabric. Along with a less-is-more-approach to
fashion came the embellishment and fixation of the busk. The busk fit inside the front of
the corset and was made from wood, ivory, metal, or whale bone. A young man might
carve or purchase and elegant busk as a present for his heart's fancy. The lacings that
held a busk in place were separate from those that supported the corset. It wasn't
uncommon for a young woman to use her busk as a flirtatious point of interest or
bestow her busk lacings on a particularly admired gentleman. Busks were also fashioned
into daggers and could be used as weapons on the occasional unwanted admirer. The
basque disappeared as well as more expensive fabric and was replaced with "tabs" to
help support petticoats.

Corsets

Two corsets representative of late 16th century and early 17th-century garments worn in the royal
Two corsets representative of late 16th century and early 17th-century garments worn in the royal

Two corsets representative of late 16th century and early 17th-century garments worn in the royal courts and in daily peasant life.

representative of late 16th century and early 17th-century garments worn in the royal courts an d

French Baroque

French Baroque is a form of Baroque architecture that evolved in France during the reigns

French Baroque is a form of Baroque architecture that evolved in France during the reigns of Louis XIII (161043), Louis XIV (16431714) and Louis XV (171474). French Baroque profoundly influenced 18th-century secular architecture throughout Europe.

Common Characteristics/Features of Baroque Architecture include:

Twisted columns, sometimes simply decorative instead of supportive

More curves instead of straight lines

Highly decorative details and ornaments

Appearance of movement

Towers or domes

An abundance of windows

Broad naves

Ceiling frescos

Optical illusions

Blending of paintings and architecture

of windows • Broad naves • Ceiling frescos • Optical illusions • Blending of paintings and
of windows • Broad naves • Ceiling frescos • Optical illusions • Blending of paintings and
windows • Broad naves • Ceiling frescos • Optical illusions • Blending of paintings and architecture
windows • Broad naves • Ceiling frescos • Optical illusions • Blending of paintings and architecture
windows • Broad naves • Ceiling frescos • Optical illusions • Blending of paintings and architecture
windows • Broad naves • Ceiling frescos • Optical illusions • Blending of paintings and architecture

Residential Architecture

Under Louis XIV, the Baroque as it was practiced in Italy was not in French

Under Louis XIV, the Baroque as it was practiced in Italy was not in French taste (Bernini's famous proposal for redesigning the Louvre was rejected by Louis XIV.) Through propaganda, wars and great architectural works, Louis XIV launched a vast program designed for the glorification of France and his name.

The Palace of Versailles, initially a tiny hunting lodge built by his father, was transformed by Louis XIV into a marvelous palace for fêtes and parties. Architect Louis Le Vau, painter and designer Charles Le Brun and the landscape architect André Le Nôtre created marvels : fountains danced; wandering revelers discovered hidden grottos in the gardens.

Jean-Baptiste Colbert brought French luxury industries, like textile and porcelain, under royal control and the architecture, furniture, fashion and etiquette of the royal court (particularly at the Château de Versailles) became the preeminent model of noble culture in France (and, to a great degree, throughout Europe) during the latter half of the seventeenth century.

of noble culture in France (and, to a great degree, throughout Europe) during the latter half
of noble culture in France (and, to a great degree, throughout Europe) during the latter half
of noble culture in France (and, to a great degree, throughout Europe) during the latter half
of noble culture in France (and, to a great degree, throughout Europe) during the latter half
of noble culture in France (and, to a great degree, throughout Europe) during the latter half

Baroque Music

Baroque music forms a major portion of the classical music canon, being widely studied, performed, and listened to. Composers of the baroque era include Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Arcangelo Corelli, Claudio Monteverdi, Jean-Philippe Rameau and Henry Purcell. The baroque period saw the development of functional tonality.

During the period, composers and performers used more elaborate musical ornamentation, made changes in musical notation, and developed new instrumental playing techniques. Baroque music expanded the size, range, and complexity of instrumental performance, and also established opera as a musical genre. Many musical terms and concepts from this era are still in use today.

and also established opera as a musical genre. Many musical terms and concepts from this era

The court of Louis XIV

Furnishings and interior designs from this period are referred to as Louis XIV-style; the style
Furnishings and interior designs from this
period are referred to as Louis XIV-style; the
style is characterized by weighty brocades of
red and gold, thickly gilded plaster molding,
large sculpted sideboards, and heavy marbling.
In 1682 Versailles was transformed into the
official residence of the king; eventually the
Hall of Mirrors was built; other smaller
châteaux, like the Grand Trianon, were built on
the grounds, and a huge canal featuring
gondolas and gondoliers from Venice was
created.
In his youth, Louis XIV had suffered during the
civil and parliamentary insurrection known as
the Fronde. By relocating to Versailles, he
could avoid the dangers of the capital; he could
also keep his eye very closely on the affairs of
the nobles and could play them off against each
other and against the newer "noblesse de robe".
Versailles became a gilded cage: To leave
spelled disaster for a noble, for all official
charges and appointments were made there. A
strict etiquette was imposed. A word or glance
from the king could make or destroy a career.
The king himself followed a strict daily
program, and there was little privacy.
Louis became, to a certain degree, the arbiter of
taste and power in Europe and both his
château and the etiquette in Versailles were
copied by the other European courts. Yet the
difficult wars at the end of his long reign and
the religious problems created by the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes made his last
years dark ones.