Eighteenth-Century France

Authored by: Pannill Camp

The Routledge Companion to Scenography

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138917804
eBook ISBN: 9781315688817
Adobe ISBN:


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Scenography in France underwent profound transformations during the reigns of the last three monarchs of the ancien régime. In some ways, these changes were conspicuous. The attention to supposed historical and cultural accuracy that marked the revival of Voltaire’s Brutus in 1790, in which custom replicas of Roman furniture appeared on stage, marked a sharp departure from the generic painted sets mounted for tragedies at the Hôtel de Bourgogne during the time of Louis XIV. But the most meaningful changes that transpired had to do with the way that stage space was theorized and constructed on paper. The decades of high Enlightenment saw the overhaul of the conception of theatre space taken for granted by architects and designers in the neo-classical era. In the second half of the seventeenth century, unified perspective compositions became the state-of-the-art in court and major public theatre sets. By the 1780s, new thinking informed by the physical science of optics challenged linear perspective in theoretical and practical ways.

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