Musée d'Orsay: Auguste-Joseph Magne The Vaudeville Theatre

Auguste-Joseph Magne
The Vaudeville Theatre

The Vaudeville Theatre, Elevation of the Rotunda
Auguste-Joseph Magne (1816-1885)
The Vaudeville Theatre, Elevation of the Rotunda
Wash, black ink; gouache and gold highlights
H. 81.4; W. 50 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Gérard Blot

Théâtre du Vaudeville, élévation de la rotonde [The Vaudeville Theatre, Elevation of the Rotunda]

This carefully worked drawing, with its curved top, cloudy sky, wash and gold highlights over black ink, was executed in 1870 after the construction of the Vaudeville Theatre in 1866-1869. It was done to illustrate the monograph on the building published by its author, the architect Auguste Magme, in 1873. The artist has painted an elevation of the rotunda, which was the entrance to the theatre, without using perspective. It is therefore difficult to see that the buildings angle away to the right and left, as the rotunda forms the corner of the theatre complex.
In 1860, on the initiative of Napoleon III, the city of Paris had launched several projects to build theatres in complexes including rental apartments and shops. The old Vaudeville, then located near the stock exchange, had to be demolished when the street was cut through. Magne was chosen to rebuild the theatre at the corner of the Boulevard des Capucines and the Rue de la Chaussée d'Antin. The treatment of corner buildings was improving, as is shown by the Cercle de la Librairie by Charles Garnier in 1860. Haussmann's idea was to mark crossroads as well as the alignment of the new streets, so that blocks of buildings replaced free standing buildings. The drawing has focused on the rotunda, with three large arched windows opening on to the vestibule on the ground floor and on to the foyer on the first floor. A monumental order and caryatids structure the façade, in the style of buildings in the vicinity of the Opera House which was then under construction. The theatre itself is at the back of the block, out of true to fit into the allotment. The theatre was disfigured in 1925 when it was converted into a cinema.

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