Nicolas Mignard, Moliere as Julius Caesar

The definitely best portrait made of Molière during his lifetime does not show him in one of his own pieces, but as Julius Caesar in Corneille’s La Mort de Pompée. Nicolas Mignard painted it around 1658.

Nearly two hundred years later, Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse based a posthumous portrait in civilian clothes on this one.

Joaquín Sorolla: The Actress María Guerrero as Finea, c. 1897/1906

Here is another portrait of the actress María Guerrero, this time as Finea in Lope de Vega’s La Dama Boba, which was written and first performed 1613. The actor in the background is her real-life husband, Fernando Díaz de Mendoza, the Marquess of San Mamés.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida originally painted this picture in or before 1897, when the couple moved to Buenos Aires. It ended at the fingertips of her right hand, a line is still visible, and her expression was more serious. Later he added some canvas at the bottom, maybe to display the costume better, added a smile to her face, and changed the date to 1906.

Finea may have been María Guerrero’s favorite part. The Cervantes Theatre, which she built in Buenos Aires, was inaugurated with a performance of La Dama Boba.—More information about the painting can be found here.

Raimundo Madrazo: The Actress María Guerrero as Doña Inés, c. 1891

Raimundo Madrazo, full Spanish name Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, was initially the student of his outside Spain better known father Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz, a renowned portraitist of the time. In 1860, nineteen years old, he left Spain for Paris, where he finished his studies under Léon Cogniet and continued, mostly, to live and work there for the rest of his life.

But he never broke the ties with his old country, as is evident in this portrait of the actress María Guerrero as Doña Inés in José Zorrilla’s Don Juan Tenorio. In this play, which is Zorrilla’s most successful and has been performed every year since 1844 at least on All Saints Day, Doña Inés was engaged to Don Juan, her father breaks off the engagement because of the latter’s depravity, and sends her to a convent instead. In the scene shown in the picture, she finds a love letter by Don Juan in her prayer book.

Here is some more information about the painting, and here is some more information about, and another portrait of, María Guerrero.

Antoine Watteau: Gilles

The so-called Gilles (1718/19) is maybe the best known painting by Jean-Antoine Watteau. It shows an Italian actor in the costume of Pierrot, a sad clown in love with Columbine, who usually breaks his heart and leaves him for Harlequin. Interesting enough, the character of Pierrot is of French origin, going back to the character of the same name in Molière’s Don Juan. The name Gilles, under which the painting was long known, comes from a French burlesque character, Gilles le Niais.

goethe-schroeter-iphigenie-1

Goethe as Orestes and Corona Schröter as Iphigenia in the first performance of Goethe’s Iphigenia in Tauris on April 6, 1779. Painting by Georg Melchior Kraus. I suppose that these are the actual costumes they performed in.

Goethe had met Schröter in Leipzig, where she studied at Johann Adam Hiller’s school. He brought her to Weimar as a court singer, and she performed a lot on the court amateur theater as an actress as well. Unfortunately, most of her compositions and writings are lost.

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