Well, I am working on a master copy of an oil painting done by Joseph Ducreux titled, “Portrait of a Man” also known as “Portrait of a Gentleman” dated approximately 1791. It’s my first master copy using formal academic methods similar to the ones used by the artist, Joseph Ducreux. I’m spending many hours painting this portrait and it made me want to learn more about the man behind the portrait. His name is Anthony le Texier (1731-1814).
My portrait in progress…
I did some digging and was able to find out more about his life and even who he married. I am keeping a record as my hope is to eventually be able to find an image of his wife and paint her as well. His wife is Mary Ross and she and he both participated in the Drury Lane Theatre which is still operating today it looks like. See my research with links below about Anthony and Mary.
Anthony A. Le Texier (1731-1814) was a French actor and director “renowned for being able to put on a play by acting all the different parts himself” (The Additional Journals and Letters of Frances Burney, 2015, p.13) He was also known, in London, as a “sort of theatrical fixer” including translating and selecting French language pieces for the London stage (Shakespeare and Amateur Performance: A Cultural History, 2011, p. 71). During the brief respite from Napoleon in 1802, Lady Albinia Buckinghamshire (formerly Mrs. Hobart) “initiated a series of Francophile parties at the house of Anthony le Texier” where le Texier and amateurs “recited from the plays of Moliere and Racine” (Shakespeare and Amateur Performance: A Cultural History, 2011, p. 71). Here is a blurb about those readings in the 1803 Picture of London:
The Picture of London, for 1803
Listings around 1797 have Le Texier as a “bookseller” and many blurbs were wont to call him an “impresario”. According to his critics, his readings were dramatic. Here is one description of the experience of his readings, as reported in La Belle Assemblee (1825):
Born in Lyons, Le Texier had worked at the French court as a dramatist and editor, until he had fallen into disfavor and left for London in 1775. He first worked at Drury Lane as an actor, but then made friends with the likes of Thomas Harris, manager of Covent Garden, and Elizabeth Inchbald, for which he started adapting plays into French and vice versa. In 1793, Le Texier married actress Mary Ross.
His house was No. 5 Lisle Street, one of the larger houses on Lisle. No. 1, since 1731, was the Falcon Public House, and then on down a series of smaller houses. Built in two parts, the western portion was laid out in 1682-83 on a portion of the site of the Leicester House garden. In 1791, Leicester House and any of its outbuildings were acquired by a banker (Thomas Wright) who then extended Lisle Street eastward to join Little Newport Street. Lisle Street was a popular one for artists giving exhibitions, including Edward Francis Burney, Nicholas Toussaint Charlet, and Alexander Pope.
For more information on Lisle Street: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols33-4/pp472-476#fnn31
Included in this drama anthology is Mercier’s play, The Pauper (L’Indigent), which Inchbald cites as a source for Next Door Neighbours (1791). Anthony A. Le Texier (1737–1814) left France in 1775 after offending Louis XV. In the 1780s and 1790s, the ex-patriot ran a private theater in Lisle Street (Boaden 270), where his one-man shows were staged in French. In addition to the Covent Garden connection, he and Inchbald share the acquaintance of Horace Walpole, who (via Madame du Deffand) introduced Le Texier into English society and in whose stage adaptation of The Castle of Otranto, The Count Narbonne, Inchbald had acted in Ireland. In 1792, this former friend of Garrick became “Gentleman in Ordinary” to the Margravine of Anspach (the former Lady Craven), for whom he staged private theatricals at Brandenburgh House, though he continued to act all the parts in sketches such as Les Poissardes Angloises in his private theater (February 15, 1793 Morning Herald, 1). In June of 1792, they were neighbors, since Inchbald moved to an unfurnished apartment in Leicester Fields. Le Texier visited Inchbald on occasion with his young daughter, and they worked on The Hue and the Cry together. What Le Texier thought of Inchbald’s dramatic work is unknown, though his Ideas on the Opera, Offered to the Subscribers, Creditors, and Amateurs of that Theatre criticized the “theatrical anarchy” of combining dance, song, and drama together (qtd in “Le Texier” 260). This did not stop him from fraternizing with dancers, one of whom, the Drury Lane dancer Mary Ross, he married.
I plan to do more master copies in the future as I’m finding the art history of the sitter (s) fascinating.