The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Mounet-Sully and Paul Mounet

Mounet-Sully and Paul Mounet

A cabinet card portrait of the brothers Mounet-Sully and Paul Mounet.

Mounet-Sully was born Jean-Sully Mounet at Bergerac on 28 February 1841, ‘Mounet-Sully’ (without the ‘Jean’) was his stage name. Paul Mounet was born Jean-Paul Mounet, also at Bergerac in the Dordogne.

Mounet-Sully entered the Conservatoire at the age of 21, where he took the first prize for tragedy. In 1868 he made his début at the Odéon without attracting much attention. His career was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War, and the liking he developed for soldiering had almost decided him to give up the stage when he was offered the opportunity of playing Oreste in Racine’s Andormaque at the Comédie Française in 1872.

His striking presence, his voice and the passionate vigour of his acting all made an immediate impression, and in 1874 he was elected sociétaire. He became one of the mainstays of the Comédie Française, distinguishing himself in a great variety of tragic and romantic parts.

One of the roles for which he was most famous was that of Oedipus in L’Oedipe roi, a French version by Jules Lacroix of Sophocles’s drama, first performed in the Roman amphitheatre at Orange in 1888. Other prominent parts in Mounet-Sully’s repertoire were Achille in Racine’s Iphigenie et Aulide, Hippolyte in Padre, Hamlet, the title roles in Victor Hugo’s Hernani and Ruy Blas, François I in Le roi s’amuse, and Didier in Marion Delorme.

In 1889 Mounet-Sully was created a chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur. He died in 1916.

Paul Mounet originally became a doctor of medicine. He first appeared on stage in Horace at the Paris Odéon in 1880. He first played at the Comédie Française in 1889, becoming sociétaire two years later. He gained his reputation in Les Erynnyes, L'Arlésienne, Othello, Patrie, Hamlet, La Furie, Anthony, Le Roi, L’Enigme, Le Dédale, and Oedipe Roi. He was also a professor at the Paris Conservatoire and, like his brother, he was created a chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur.

Photographed by Van Bosch of 35, boulevard des Capucines, Paris.


Code: 124429
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© Paul Frecker 2019