Beaumarchais, Pierre Augustin Caron de

PLAYWRIGHT (FRANCE)
BORN 24 Jan 1732, Paris - DIED 19 May 1799, Paris
BIRTH NAME Caron, Pierre Augustin
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 28, ligne 01, Q, 33)

Pierre Beaumarchais was the son of a watchmaker. In 1755 he married the widow Madeleine-Catherine Aubertin. She helped him secure a royal office but died soon afterwards.

As an inventor and as a music teacher he was able to obtain a position at the French court. He taught the princesses the harp and his influence increased. He also conducted several profitable businesses and acted as a diplomated and a spy. Furthermore, he was successful as a playwright and in 1767 his play "Eugénie" premiered at the Comédie Française.

A series of costly court cases around 1770 cost him his fortune and damaged his reputation. In his memoirs he describes himselfs as a poor citizen who was the victim of corrupted judges. His play "Le Barbier de Séville" was first performed in 1775. He supported American Independence and lobbied for the Americans during the War of Independence in 1778.

Another play, "Le Mariage de Figaro" was approved by the censor in 1781 but banned by king Louis XVI himself who considered it too satirical, although queen Marie Antoinette liked it. In 1784 the ban was lifted and it was finally performed. In 1786 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart based his opera on this play. Baumarchais' last play "La Mère" was first performed in 1792.

By that time his finances had improved but in 1792 he was imprisoned for a week and when he was abroad he was suspected to loyal to the old regime. He had to stay abroad for over two years before he could return to Paris in 1796. There he died three years later.

Related persons
• was written about by Bettelheim, Anton

Events
23/8/1774Premiere of Goethe's "Clavigo" at the Ackermannsche Theater in Hamburg. Goethe wrote it in eight days in May 1774 and it was performed by the troupe of the late actor Konrad Ernst Ackermann. The tragedy included with Beaumarchais as a stage character. When Beaumarchais saw the play in Augsburg later in the year he didn't agree with the way Goethe had portrayed him. Goethe wasn't present during the premiere and probably saw it for the first time in Mannheim in 1799. [Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von]
27/4/1784Premiere of Beaumarchais' "Le Mariage de Figaro" at the Théâtre François in Paris. It had been read at the Comédie-Française in 1781 and it was privately performed on 23 September 1783. It has been banned by Louis XVI but queen Marie-Antoinette liked it and in 1784 Louis XVI lifted the ban. Louise Contat played Suzanne. [Louis XVI Auguste, King of France][Marie Antoinette, queen of France]

Images

The grave of Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (24 Oct 2014)

 

Sources
• Hearsey, John, Marie Antoinette, Sphere Books, London, 1974
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Clavigo – Wikipedia


Beaussoleil, Jean

Published: 21 Jun 2015
Last update: 05 Apr 2022