Méliès Georges

08.12.1861 - 21.01.1938
Cartoonist

Was born 8 December 1861 in Paris to Jean-Louis-Stanislas Méliès and his Dutch wife, Johannah-Catherine Schuering. His father had moved to Paris in 1843 as a journeyman shoemaker and began working at a boot factory, where he met Méliès’ mother. Johannah-Catherine’s father had been the official bootmaker of the Dutch court before a fire ruined his business. She helped to educate Jean-Louis-Stanislas. Eventually the two married, founded a high-quality boot factory on the Boulevard Saint-Martin, and had sons Henri and Gaston; by the time their third son Georges had been born, the family had become wealthy.

Georges Méliès attended the Lycée Michelet from age seven until it was bombed during the Franco-Prussian War; he was then sent to the prestigious Lycée Louis-le-Grand. In his memoirs, Méliès emphasised his formal, classical education, in contrast to accusations early in his career that most filmmakers had been “illiterates incapable of producing anything artistic. However, he acknowledged that his creative instincts usually outweighed intellectual ones: “The artistic passion was too strong for him, and while he would ponder a French composition or Latin verse, his pen mechanically sketched portraits or caricatures of his professors or classmates, if not some fantasy palace or an original landscape that already had the look of a theatre set.” Often disciplined by teachers for covering his notebooks and textbooks with drawings, young Georges began building cardboard puppet theatres at age ten and moved on to craft even more sophisticated marionettes as a teenager. Méliès graduated from the Lycée with a baccalauréat in 1880.

After completing his education, Méliès joined his brothers in the family shoe business, where he learned how to sew. After three years of mandatory military service, his father sent him to London to work as a clerk for a family friend. While in London, he began to visit the Egyptian Hall, run by the London illusionist John Nevil Maskelyne, and he developed a lifelong passion for stage magic.[4] Méliès returned to Paris in 1885 with a new desire: to study painting at the École des Beaux-Arts. His father, however, refused to support him financially as an artist, so Georges settled with supervising the machinery at the family factory. That same year, he avoided his family’s desire for him to marry his brother’s sister-in-law and instead married Eugénie Génin, a family friend’s daughter whose guardians had left her a sizable dowry. Together they had two children: Georgette, born in 1888, and André, born in 1901.

While working at the family factory, Méliès continued to cultivate his interest in stage magic, attending performances at the Théâtre Robert-Houdin, which had been founded by the magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. He also began taking magic lessons from Emile Voisin, who gave him the opportunity to perform his first public shows, at the Cabinet Fantastique of the Grévin Wax Museum and, later, at the Galerie Vivienne.

In 1888, Méliès’ father retired, and Georges Méliès sold his share of the family shoe business to his two brothers. With the money from the sale and from his wife’s dowry, he purchased the Théâtre Robert-Houdin. Although the theatre was “superb” and equipped with lights, levers, trap doors, and several automata, many of the available illusions and tricks were out of date, and attendance to the theatre was low even after Méliès’ initial renovations.

Over the next nine years, Méliès personally created over 30 new illusions that brought more comedy and melodramatic pageantry to performances, much like those Méliès had seen in London, and attendance greatly improved. One of his best-known illusions was the Recalcitrant Decapitated Man, in which a professor’s head is cut off in the middle of a speech and continues talking until it is returned to his body. When he purchased the Théâtre Robert-Houdin, Méliès also inherited its chief mechanic Eugène Calmels and such performers as Jehanne d’Alcy, who would become his mistress and, later, his second wife. While running the theatre, Méliès also worked as a political cartoonist for the liberal newspaper La Griffe, which was edited by his cousin Adolphe Méliès.

As owner of the Théâtre Robert-Houdin, Méliès began working more behind the scenes than on stage. He acted as director, producer, writer, set and costume designer, as well as inventing many of the magical tricks. With the theatre’s growing popularity, he brought in magicians including Buatier De Kolta, Duperrey, and Raynaly to the theatre. Along with magic tricks, performances included fairy pantomimes, an automaton performance during intermissions, magic lantern shows, and special effects such as snowfall and lightning. In 1895, Méliès was elected president of the Chambre Syndicale des Artistes Illusionistes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_M%C3%A9li%C3%A8s


Leave a Reply

4 × five =