La Salle des Machines, Paris


Lister did not mention the theatre, La Salle des Machines, in his pocketbook or memoirs, but his traveling companion Philip Skippon wrote:

The Sale des Machines in the Louvre is made like that at Modena, and by the same workman Gaspar Vigarini; this is larger, and the roof of the theatre richer gilt; they say it will hold 5000 people, and that at Modena but 3000; one of the machines moves a hall, with the king and courtiers.  The sea is well represented in one machine.

According to historian Wendell Cole, the theatre was built in February 1662 at the Tuileries Palace, ‘with the deepest indoor stage ever built’. 1  The stage was 49 feet wide and 132 feet deep.

In 1660,

as the old Petit Bourbon theatre was about to be demolished and the company of Molière planned to occupy the theatre of Richelieu at the Palais Royal beginning in 1661, there was no hall large enough to contain the magnificent ballets in which Louis XIV was expected to dance in celebration of his marriage.  Accordingly the architect LeVaue was commissioned to plan a long rectangular building extending from the Tuileries Palace to join the Palace of the Louvre; it was in this extension that the stage of the Salle des Machines was to be built by the Italian scene designer Gaspare Vigarini. 2

Skippon and Lister however would not see a performance in the Salle des Machines, as the play Ercole Amante [Hercules in Love] was given four times during the Carnival of 1662, and then for nine years nothing more was presented in the theatre.  A figure of a plan of the theatre may be seen here in Gallica’s scan of the treatise  Architecture françoise (1752-56) of Jean François Blondel.

Back to top

  1. Wendell Cole, ‘The Salle des Machines: Three Hundred Years Ago’, Educational Theatre Journal 14, 3 (Oct., 1962),  224-277, on 224.
  2. Cole, ‘The Salle Des Machines’, 225.

Comments are closed.