The Art of Theatre

The Art of Theatre

The Art of Theatre: Word, Image and Performance in Nineteenth-Century France and Belgium

19th-20th of November 2010, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Guest speakers:
Professor Patrick McGuinness, St. Anne’s College, Oxford
Professor Laurence Senelick, Tufts University, Massachusetts

This conference will explore a rich field of interdisciplinary research: the relationship between art, literature and the stage in France and Belgium from 1830-1910. The rise in popular theatre, the beginnings of a ‘society of spectacle’, the emergence of the print media, the development of stage direction and set design and the crisis in pictorial and literary representation created a dynamic cultural climate wherein the interface between writing, painting and dramatic representation thrived. Examples include the paintings of performances by Edgar Degas, costume and set designs by Fernand Khnopff and Sarah Bernhardt’s self-promotion through photography. We invite papers in English which discuss all aspects of this area of study and are particularly interested in contributions which develop the following ideas:

• The depiction of theatre and performance in painting
• Paintings and visual imagery in theatre
• The illustration of plays by artists
• Set and costume design by painters
• Theatrical techniques in pictorial representation: perspective, lighting, illusion, mise-en-scène
• Visual technology and the stage: panoramas and dioramas
• Artists’ posters and prints for stage productions
• Photography and the Stage
• Le Tableau-Vivant
• Artists as dramatists; actors as painters
• Gesture as language
• Masks, illusion and artifice

Conference organisers: Dr. Claire Moran, French Studies, QUB, and Dr. Kurt Taroff, Drama Studies, QUB.


19th-20th of November 2010,

Queen’s University, Belfast



(Honoré Daumier, Une discussion littéraire à la deuxième Galerie, published in Le Charivari, February 27th, 1864)


Friday the 19th of November Registration  and  Tea/Coffee

10.30 Welcome address

(Great Hall) Parallel sessions A and B

(University Square)


A. Painters and the Theatre: Interactions and Exchanges

Chair: Claire Moran, QUB

a. Jill Fell (Birkbeck College, London), ‘The Nabis Puppet Theatres: The roles of Paul Ranson and Alfred Jarry.’

b. Clément Dessy (FNRS, Université Libre de Bruxelles) ‘Comme l’arabesque’: De la ligne picturale à la ligne théâtrale dans les rapports entre peinture synthétiste et théâtre à la fin du XIXe siècle.’

c. Camille Racine (Paris IV, la Sorbonne), ‘Un peintre au théâtre: Les décors de George Desvallières pour le Théâtre des Arts.’

B. Performance and Society

Chair: Kurt Taroff, QUB

a. Jason Vrooman (Institute of Fine Arts, New York University) ‘Gentlemen and Journeymen. Representations of Masculinity in Nabi Theatrical Programmes.’

b. Rebecca Free (Goucher College, Baltimore), ‘Seeing through the Coquette: Fan, Fashion and Célimène  in Early 20th-century France.’ lunch

(Great Hall)

2.15 pm Plenary 1.


Laurence Senelick (Tufts University), ‘The Century of Offenbach.’

3.30 pm Coffee/Tea Parallel sessions C and D.

(University Square)

C. Representation and the Stage

Chair: Karen Brown, Dundee University

a. Karen Stock (Winthrop  University), ‘Degas’ and Zola’s piercing of the veil.’

b.Maria Athanesekou (National Technical University, School of Architecture, Athens), ‘Degas’ representations of the Stage – A ballerina’s journal in painting.’

c. Andrei Pop (University of Vienna), ‘Masks, Modernity, Egoism: The St. Anthony of James Ensor and Maurice Maeterlinck.’

D. Puppets and pantomimes

Chair : Dominique Jeannerod, QUB

a.Séverine Reyrolle, (Université de Paris X, Nanterre),  ‘Le petit théâtre à l’assaut du grand ou de l’importance des castelets franco-belges dans les avant-gardes théâtrales.’

b.Josephine Landback (University of Pittsburgh), ‘Interface : Champfleury and Pierrot at the théâtre des Funambules, 1847.’ Wine reception

(Naughton Art Gallery)


Saturday the 20th of November

(Drama and Film Centre)


9.30am Parallel Sessions  E  and F

(Screen 1 / Rehearsal Room)


E.  Staging and the Visual: Costumes, Sets and Mise-en-Scène

Chair: Ewan Jeffrey, QUB

a. Cécilia Falgas-Ravray (University of Cambridge), ‘Staging Les Misérables : The Triumph of Visual Theatre.’

b. Katherine Hoffman (St. Anselm College), ‘The Early World of the Ballets Russes: The Role of Interdisciplinary Inspiration and Collaboration.’





F. Le Tableau Vivant

Chair : Peter Tame, QUB

a. Daniela Peslin (Université de Paris III, La Sorbonne Nouvelle), ‘Les tableaux vivants dans le travail théâtral de Georg II.’

b. Arnaud Rykner (Université de Toulouse/Institut Universitaire de France), ‘A la recherche de l’image absolue : le tableau vivant au carrefour des scènes.’  Coffee/Tea

11.30 Plenary 2

(Brian Friel Theatre)

Patrick McGuinness (St. Anne’s College, Oxford), ‘Symbolism and the Idea of an Audience.’ Lunch

(Foyer, DFT) Parallel sessions  G and H

(Screen 1 / Rehearsal Room)

G. Text/Image Collaborations and Inspirations

Chair: Patricia Berney, QUB

a. Xavier Fontaine (Princeton University), ‘The bibliophile’s Book as Theatrical Performance : Pelléas et Mélisande illustrated by Fernand Khnopff.’

b.Mokomo Fukada (University of Tokyo/Université de la Sorbonne), ‘Le dialogue avec Réjane dans l’œuvre de Marcel Proust.’

H. Documenting the Stage

Chair: Kurt Taroff, QUB

a. Merel van Tilburg (University of Geneva) ‘Art Works or The Visual Evidence of Symbolist Theatre’

b. Sandra Bornemann (Institute of Art History, University of Bern), ‘Interior and Stage: Intimisme in Edouard Vuillard’s work.’


3.30 Tea/Coffee


4. pm Session I

Session I. Aesthetics, Genre and Spectacle

Chair: Nigel Harkness, QUB

a.Vladimir Kapor (University of Manchester), ‘Couleur locale: between stage and text.’

b.Olivia Voisin (Paris IV, La Sorbonne),  ‘L’image spectacle dans un fauteuil: la naissance d’un genre pictural.’

c.Karen Humphreys (Trinity College, Hartford) ‘Scenettes, pantominades and intermèdes with Barbey d’Aurevilly and Mlle Duverger : Spectating in the Théâtre de la Gaité and Le Gaulois Concluding discussion  Conference Dinner