"> Name: Pierre-Augustin Caron De Beaumarchais, French playwright

Date:  1500 - 1799

Location:  Europe

SubjectPolitical/Economic/Social Opinion

MediumPerformance Art

Artist: Pierre-Augustin Caron De Beaumarchais

Confronting Bodies: Censors, Parlement and Louis XVI of France

Date of Action: 1770-1780s

Specific Location: France

Description of Artwork: Beaumarchais's work satirized the French government. He is best know for his plays, "The Barber of Seville" and "The Marriage of Figaro." Both plays allude to peasant uprising, and corrupt government and church officals.

Description of Incident: In 1773 Beaumarchais was invited to perform "The Barber of Seville" at the Comedie Francaise, however the invitation was retracted and Beaumarchais was imprisoned for satirizing the Duc de Chaulnes. His play "Memoirs" was burned because it contained "scandalous charges" against the magistracy and members of Parlement. "The Barber of Seville" was banned and re-worked several times before it was finally allowed to show in 1775. "The Marriage of Figaro" met similar trouble. It was scheduled to run in 1781, however, King Louis XVI personally declared that the play would never be performed. In 1779 Beaumarchais left France for Germany with the intention of publishing Voltaire's writings. His project was successful, but religious and government officials banned advertising for his collection in France.

Results of Incident: Beaumarchais earned recognition outside of France, however met adversity from bourgeois audiences.

Source: Censorship, A World Encyclopedia, ed. D. Jones

Submitted By: NCAC

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