Tuesday, 7 June 2016

France 1953 - French Theatre

Over the course of five months in 1953, France issued a stunning set of stamps celebrating French Literature and Theatre. The set is also a celebration of three highly talented French engravers. In this set we not only see the beauty of each engraver's subject, but the different interpretations of the art of engraving.


The fantastic creative adventure began on the 27 May with the giant, Gargantua. The stamp was designed and engraved by Henry Cheffer. 

Written in the 16th century by the talented author, François Rabelais, The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel, was a set of five novels, chronicling the adventures of two giants, Gargantua and his son Pantagruel. Those of you who are readers of my Decaris Crazy blog may recall that I did a post studying France's 1950 François Rabelais stamp, designed and engraved by Albert Decaris. If you  have not already read it or would like to take another look, click HERE 


On 8 June the second stamp in the series was issued. The focus of this stamp is the play Hermani by Victor Hugo. The stamp was designed and engraved by Robert Cami.

Hermani is a drama set in a fictitious version of the Spanish court of 1519. Romance and intrigue abound in this classic love triangle story.  Three men, all in love with the same woman, vie for her attentions. One can easily imagine the chaos that ensued. On the 25 February 1830, the play opened in Paris. The play is probably now best remembered for the fights and demonstrations that erupted on the night of its première. On  a positive note, the play inspired Verdi to create his opera, Ernani.


Issued on 21 September was a stunning stamp focusing on Moliere's The Misanthrope. The stamp was engraved by René Cottet. It was designed by Robert Cami. This collaboration resulted in a visually sumptuous stamp. Just look at the detail in the costume!

The Misanthrope or Cantankerous Lover was written in the 17th Century by Molière. The play was a comedy of manners written  in verse. It premièred on 4 June 1666 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, Paris. It was performed by the King's Players. The play ridicules the hypocritical nature of French aristocratic society, but on a deeper level, it also suggests that all humans in one way or another possess similar character flaws. Interestingly, the play was somewhat of a box office flop at the time, but it now considered Molière's best known work.


Also issued 21 September was a charming stamp focusing on The Marriage of Figaro by Pierre Beaumarchais. This stamp is the second stamp in this set engraved by Henry Cheffer. It was designed by Andrew Spitz.

The Marriage of Figaro was written in 1778 by Pierre Beaumarchais. Structured as a comedy in five acts, the play is the second in the Figaro trilogy. It was preceded by The Barber of Seville and followed by The Guilty Mother. The play featured another one of those classic love triangles. In this story we have a girl, a rich baron, and a barber (Figaro). The play premièred at the Théâtre Français on 27 April 1784. From its opening night it was a huge success. It continued to run for 68 consecutive performances, and it became the biggest box office hit of the 18th Century. Apparently the theatre was so crowded on opening night three people were crushed to death.

Until next time...

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