Théodore De Banville And The Theatre

November 11, 2006 - January 7, 2007

Théodore de Banville was the author of ten plays in verse and prose ranging from revue to tragedy which were produced with success in theatres both small and large, including the Odéon and the Comédie-Française where his most well-known play Gringoire was created.

This exhibition pays homage to this playwright, who was born in Moulins in 1823 and died in Paris in 1891. Banville, a great Parnassian poet, craftsman of beauty and language, who often accentuated his verses with a touch of fantasy and humour, was friends with Théophile Gautier, Baudelaire and Victor Hugo, all of whom recognized him as an equal. He was also a prolific writer, most notably of fairy tales, in a renewal of the genre. Banville, like his contemporaries, was attracted to the theatre and ardently wished for recognition there. But he was also, and above all, a great lover and scholar of the theatre, as well as a passionate drama critic. Nothing of the texts, actors' interpretations, staging and costumes escaped him, and he described everything with great pleasure and precision.

The costumes in the exhibition illustrate the literary and artistic universe of Théodore de Banville. They include characters from the commedia dell'arte, notably Harlequin; costumes from the opera Atys (designed by Patrice Cauchetier), Monstre turquin by Carlo Gozzi with costumes by Jacques Noël and Arelequin, magician par amour, a ballet by Ivo Cramer with costumes by Claudie Gastine which also includes a Pierrot in a costume identical to that of Gilles painted by Watteau.

The character of the clown, an artist with whom Banville is closely identified, is evoked by the two clowns in the ballet Le Grand cirque, with costumes by Bernard Buffet.