Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | Henri Samary (as Raoul de Vaubert in ‘Mademoiselle de la Seiglière’, Jules Sandeau’s comedy) [Henri Samary (dans la rôle de Raoul de Vaubert dans ‘Mademoiselle de la Seiglière’, comédie de Jules Sandeau)]

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC
France 1864 – 1901

Henri Samary (as Raoul de Vaubert in ‘Mademoiselle de la Seiglière’, Jules Sandeau’s comedy) [Henri Samary (dans la rôle de Raoul de Vaubert dans ‘Mademoiselle de la Seiglière’, comédie de Jules Sandeau)] 1889 oil on cardboard on cardboard
75.0 (h) x 52.0 (w) cm
Reference: Dortu P.330 Musée d'Orsay, Paris Donation of Jacques Laroche, 1947

Henri Samary, who belonged to a well-known family of thespians, was the star of the Théâtre Français – where he studied the art of acting in 1883. He is portrayed by Lautrec in his role as Raoul de Vaubert in Jules Sandeau’s popular comedy Mademoiselle de la Seiglière, which was published in 1847. This comedy of manners played on issues of class, age and romance in the years after the French revolution, during the time of Louis Philippe’s reign.

When the American-born writer, Henry James, was in Paris in December 1872, he was enthralled by the quality of the theatre, its cultural significance and the importance it played in French life:

It is impossible to spend many weeks in Paris without observing that the theatre plays a very important part in French civilization; and it is impossible to go much to the theatre without finding it a copious source of instruction as to French ideas, manners, and philosophy. I supposed that I had a certain acquaintance with these complex phenomena, but during the last couple of months I have occupied a great many orchestra chairs, and in the merciless glare of the footlights I have read a great many of my old convictions with a new distinctness. I have had at the same time one of the greatest attainable pleasures; for, surely, among the pleasures that one deliberately seeks and pays for, none beguiles the heavy human consciousness so totally as a first-rate evening at the Théâtre Français or the Gymnase.[1]

This painting was one of Lautrec’s earliest portrayals of characters on the Parisian stage, which was to provide a wealth of material for his art during his lifetime. In such depictions the artist was in his element as he captured dramatic or comedic performances, magnified by theatrical settings and dramatic lighting.

Samary has made a dramatic entrance and poses on stage, dressed formally in tails, holding his top hat in one hand and a monocle in the other, which he raises to his eye. Grinning, the actor appears to be observing the artist who, in turn, views him from above as he stands on the rough planks of the stage. Behind him the cursorily painted backdrop of trees is rendered in streaks of green.

With Lautrec’s portrait of Samary, who in turn portrays Raoul de Vaubert, there is tension between what is reality and what belongs to the magic of the theatre.

JK

 

[1] Henry James, ‘Parisian sketches’, in Transatlantic sketches, Boston: James R. Osgood and Co., 1875,
p. 98.

Henri Samary, who belonged to a well-known family of thespians, was the star of the Théâtre Français – where he studied the art of acting in 1883. He is portrayed by Lautrec in his role as Raoul de Vaubert in Jules Sandeau’s popular comedy Mademoiselle de la Seiglière, which was published in 1847. This comedy of manners played on issues of class, age and romance in the years after the French revolution, during the time of Louis Philippe’s reign.

When the American-born writer, Henry James, was in Paris in December 1872, he was enthralled by the quality of the theatre, its cultural significance and the importance it played in French life:

It is impossible to spend many weeks in Paris without observing that the theatre plays a very important part in French civilization; and it is impossible to go much to the theatre without finding it a copious source of instruction as to French ideas, manners, and philosophy. I supposed that I had a certain acquaintance with these complex phenomena, but during the last couple of months I have occupied a great many orchestra chairs, and in the merciless glare of the footlights I have read a great many of my old convictions with a new distinctness. I have had at the same time one of the greatest attainable pleasures; for, surely, among the pleasures that one deliberately seeks and pays for, none beguiles the heavy human consciousness so totally as a first-rate evening at the Théâtre Français or the Gymnase.[1]

This painting was one of Lautrec’s earliest portrayals of characters on the Parisian stage, which was to provide a wealth of material for his art during his lifetime. In such depictions the artist was in his element as he captured dramatic or comedic performances, magnified by theatrical settings and dramatic lighting.

Samary has made a dramatic entrance and poses on stage, dressed formally in tails, holding his top hat in one hand and a monocle in the other, which he raises to his eye. Grinning, the actor appears to be observing the artist who, in turn, views him from above as he stands on the rough planks of the stage. Behind him the cursorily painted backdrop of trees is rendered in streaks of green.

With Lautrec’s portrait of Samary, who in turn portrays Raoul de Vaubert, there is tension between what is reality and what belongs to the magic of the theatre.

JK

 

[1] Henry James, ‘Parisian sketches’, in Transatlantic sketches, Boston: James R. Osgood and Co., 1875,
p. 98.

Henri Samary, who belonged to a well-known family of thespians, was the star of the Théâtre Français – where he studied the art of acting in 1883. He is portrayed by Lautrec in his role as Raoul de Vaubert in Jules Sandeau’s popular comedy Mademoiselle de la Seiglière, which was published in 1847. This comedy of manners played on issues of class, age and romance in the years after the French revolution, during the time of Louis Philippe’s reign.

When the American-born writer, Henry James, was in Paris in December 1872, he was enthralled by the quality of the theatre, its cultural significance and the importance it played in French life:

It is impossible to spend many weeks in Paris without observing that the theatre plays a very important part in French civilization; and it is impossible to go much to the theatre without finding it a copious source of instruction as to French ideas, manners, and philosophy. I supposed that I had a certain acquaintance with these complex phenomena, but during the last couple of months I have occupied a great many orchestra chairs, and in the merciless glare of the footlights I have read a great many of my old convictions with a new distinctness. I have had at the same time one of the greatest attainable pleasures; for, surely, among the pleasures that one deliberately seeks and pays for, none beguiles the heavy human consciousness so totally as a first-rate evening at the Théâtre Français or the Gymnase.[1]

This painting was one of Lautrec’s earliest portrayals of characters on the Parisian stage, which was to provide a wealth of material for his art during his lifetime. In such depictions the artist was in his element as he captured dramatic or comedic performances, magnified by theatrical settings and dramatic lighting.

Samary has made a dramatic entrance and poses on stage, dressed formally in tails, holding his top hat in one hand and a monocle in the other, which he raises to his eye. Grinning, the actor appears to be observing the artist who, in turn, views him from above as he stands on the rough planks of the stage. Behind him the cursorily painted backdrop of trees is rendered in streaks of green.

With Lautrec’s portrait of Samary, who in turn portrays Raoul de Vaubert, there is tension between what is reality and what belongs to the magic of the theatre.

JK

 

[1] Henry James, ‘Parisian sketches’, in Transatlantic sketches, Boston: James R. Osgood and Co., 1875,
p. 98.



Image detail: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec La Goulue entering the Moulin Rouge [La Goulue entrant au Moulin Rouge] 1892
The Museum of Modern Art, New York Gift of Mrs David M. Levy