PIERRE de BEAUMARCHAIS 1732 -
(G2, G3a, G3b)
xxxxxThe French dramatist Pierre de Beaumarchais is famous for his two comedies of intrigue, The Barber of Seville of 1775 and The Marriage of Figaro, produced in 1778 but banned from showing until 1784. Both are witty, satirical plays, full of amusing incident, and both have as their central character the lovable Figaro, the scheming, resourceful man-
xxxxxThe French dramatist Pierre de Beaumarchais owes his literary fame to his two great comedies of intrigue, The Barber of Seville, which appeared in 1775, and The Marriage of Figaro, produced three years later. Both have as their central character the man-
xxxxxThese social satires were witty, light and elegant in style, and they restored laughter to the French stage. Their comic situations and amusing plots -
xxxxxWith an ever ready eye for the good chance, Beaumarchais was something of a Figaro himself. He was born Pierre-
xxxxxAnd all this was in addition to his literary work. Apart from his two comedies, in 1777 he established La Société des Auteurs Dramatiques, the first society for the protection of dramatists’ rights, and over five years (1784-
xxxxxWith the coming of the French Revolution, his wealth, together with his earlier work in the service of the monarchy, hardly went in his favour. He was accused of treason in 1792, but released, so it would seem, through the intervention of a former mistress. He then took refuge in Holland and England, but returned to Paris in 1796, three years before his death.
Beaumarchais: by the French painter Paul Soyer (1823-
John Baskerville and
xxxxxBy 1757 the English printer John Baskerville (1706-
xxxxxThe English printer John Baskerville (1706-
xxxxxThe type was particularly admired on the continent and in North America. For reasons not clear, however, it did not find so much favour in England, and so it was that, after Baskerville’s death, Beaumarchais was able to buy up his printing equipment together with his types. Much later, in 1917 in fact, the punches and matrices came to light, and they were presented to Cambridge University. Some of his work is now considered amongst the finest examples of printing in the 18th century, and the type itself is much in use today.
xxxxxAnother master printer at this time was the Italian Giambattista Bodoni (1740-
xxxxxAnother master printer and type designer at this time was the Italian Giambattista Bodoni (1740-