Artibus et Historiae no. 69 (XXXV)

2014, ISSN 0391-9064

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EUGENE J. JOHNSON - The Theater at Lyon of 1548: A Reconstruction and Attribution (pp. 173–202)

Erected in 1548 in the palace of Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, Archbishop of Lyon, the temporary theater for the entry of Henry II and Catherine de’ Medici was the first Italianate theater in France as well as the site of the first production of a modern Italian comedy in that country.

By 1548 there was an established tradition of elaborate temporary theaters built at Italian courts for dynastic or other celebrations. Ippolito d’Este was heir to the oldest of these traditions, that of Ferrara. His grandfather, Duke Ercole d’Este, had produced the first securely dated performance of a Roman comedy since antiquity in 1486 in the courtyard of his Ferrarese palace.

Thanks to a detailed description of the Lyon theater published in 1549 by an Italian identified only as F. M., we have been able to produce an approximate visual reconstruction that allows an attribution of its design to a major figure in sixteenth-century architecture (Sebastiano Serlio). Also discussed are the parallels with theatrical projects connected to Florence and the apparent influence of the Lyon theater on the design of the Uffizi.

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