DIDEROT, Denis. Théatres (Theatres) Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. Plates vol. 10 Paris (1772)
Folio, 253 x 393mm. 40 pages of descriptive text & 30 loose plates with their accompanying 2 text sheets. Slight browning to margins, a little spotting otherwise very good.
The 38 plates and descriptive text for the entry of Théatres from volume X of plates. Each plate is titled Salles de Spectacles with the name of the appropriate theatre. Theatres included are the Stuttgart Playhouse, a planned concert hall, the Theatre Royal in S. Charle at Naples, the Argentina Theatre of Rome, the Parma Theatre, the Tordinona Theatre in Rome, the Tuileries, the Comédie Française Playhouse, the Opera House, the Playhouse of the Comédie de Lyon, and the Playhouses at Montpellier and Metz.
There are thirteen sets of plates in total, with one for each theatre. There are 7 sets with 1 numbered plate. There are five sets with two numbered plates, and two of these contain 2 double plates and one contains 1 single and 1 double plate, while the other two both have 2 single plates. There is one set with four numbered plates, and these are all single plates. There is also one set with ten numbered plates, and plates 9 & 10 are double plates.
2 pages (742 & 743) from volume I of the Encyclopédie (1751) including Théatres D'Artifice and Distribution des artifices sur les théatres
1 page (833) from volume II of the Encyclopédie (1751) including Lieu d'où Jupiter lançoit sa soudre
1 page (457) from volume III of the Encyclopédie (1753) including Ceinture
2 pages (700 & 1069) from volume IV of the Encyclopédie (1754) including information on Les décorations and Les divertissemens de théatre
1 page (264) from volume V of the Encyclopédie (1755) including Vases pour favoriser la voix
1 page (582) from volume VI of the Encyclopédie (1756) describing Le grande manege par M. le maréchal de Richelieu
1 page (150) from volume VIII of the Encyclopédie (1765) including information on Le théatre trouvé dans Herculanum
1 page (86) from volume X of the Encyclopédie (1765) including Sieges des théatres
1 page (578) from volume XI of the Encyclopédie (1765) including information on L'orchestre
1 page (87) from volume XII of the Encyclopédie (1765) including Parterre d'un théatre
2 pages (493 & 566) from volume XIII of the Encyclopédie (1765) including Proscenium and Pulpitum
1 page (752) from volume XIV of the Encyclopédie (1765) including Dipositons du lieu où l;on représentoit les pieces avant qu'on eût construit les théatres
3 pages (232, 446 & 447) from volume XV of the Encyclopédie (1765) including Coup de théatre and Les Romains
14 pages (188, 227-238, & 854) from volume XVI of the Encyclopédie (1765) including Marques que l'on distribuoit pour l'entrée de théatres, Les théatres en général, and further information on Vases pour favoriser la voix
2 pages (603 & 641) from volume XVII of the Encyclopédie (1765) including information on Thomas Betterton et Garick and Réflexions de M.Fenton sur l'état du théatre anglois après la mort de Charles I
1 page (88) from volume II of the Supplément à l'Encyclopédie (1776) which includes Des cabales de théatre
2 pages (351 & 483) from volume III of the Supplément à l'Encyclopédie (1777) which includes further information on Le théatre trouvé dans Herculanum and Moyan employé pour chausser les salles de théatre
5 pages (710, 937, 957, 959 & 965) from volume IV of the Supplément à l'Encyclopédie (1777) which includes Les salles de théatre, L'ancien hôtel de Conde, Le genre de tragédie, and Les défauts des théatres des anciens
With some browning to a few leaves.
The main entry for Théâtres, spread over twelve pages, was written by Chevalier Louis de Jaucourt, the often overshadowed contributor to the Encylopédie. He was sometimes criticised for being a compiler and not an original thinker, but in this article he presents some of his rarely heard personal opinions. One of his strongest sentiments was that the garden was the ideal scenery for the theatrical representation of human action. He develops this idea using the examples of the Saint Germain en Laye and the pastoral vineyards around Rome.
Also included with this suite of plates are numerous other articles. Of particular note are the two supplementary entries for Salles de Spectacles by Rousseau and Théâtres by Diderot himself, who had had an interest in and intention to enter the theatre at an early age. The plates and their text played a substantial part in the remodelling and rethinking of the theatre at this period. Not only did the plates contribute to the spread of the 'horseshoe'-shaped theatre, but they suggest entirely original ideas to improve other factors. An instance of this creativity is found in the description of the Theatre Royal Turin, where remodelling to improve acoustics and to provide proper ventilation are explored and recommended. These revolutionary plans pre-empted by around one hundred years the 19th-century changes which took place in the technology of the theatre. These plates are also an excellent historical record of many theatres no longer in existence, charting their architecture, and examining their conditions.