Aug 21, 2007

Mr. Leroux in the Role of Alceste in Le Misanthrope

Mr. Leroux in the Role of Alceste in Le Misanthrope


Julien Vallou de Villeneuve

(French, 1795–1866)

Albumen print from wax paper negative

Image: 14.4 x 12.1 cm (5 11/16 x 4 3/4 in.); Matted: 45.7 x 35.6 cm (18 x 14 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1997.42



Leroux was a star of the Comédie-Française, the most important theater in France. He is seen here around age 35 as the lead in Molière’s play The Misanthrope, a classic 17th-century play that satirizes the character flaws of the French aristocracy. As in the portrait of Bernhardt nearby, subtle aspects of pose, expression, and costuming create the character. Vallou de Villeneuve began his career as a painter and lithographer, then established himself in photography specializing in nude studies for artists, genre subjects, and portraits of actors. His prints are generally small and meant for viewing in an album rather than displaying on a wall. This portrait probably came from a theater lover’s album of French actors.

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