Talma, Joseph Francois
TALMA, JOSEPH FRANcOIS ( 1763-1826), French tragedian, was born at Paris 15th January 1763. After attending the Mazarin college, he accompanied his father, who was a dentist, to London, where he studied in the hospitals. While in London he took part in some amateur theatricals, and, his talents at once attracting notice, a professional engagement was offered him. To this, however, his father would not consent, and shortly afterwards he was sent to Paris, where for some years he was assistant to a dentist. His predilection for the drama could not be restrained, and on 21st November 1787 he made his debut at the Comedie Francaise in Mah,omet. His efforts from the first won appreciation, but for a considerable time he was restricted to secondary parts. It was in jeune premier parts that he first came prominently into notice, and he attained only gradually to his unrivalled position as the exponent of strong and concentrated passion. In 1791 he and other dissentients founded the Theatre Francais de la rue de Richelieu, - a name changed in 1792 to Theatre de la Republique, where he won his most striking successes. Talma was among the earliest advocates of realism in scenery and costume, being greatly aided in his reforms by his friend the painter David. He possessed in perfection the physical gifts fitting him to excel in the highest tragic parts, an admirably proportioned figure, a striking countenance, and a voice of great beauty and power, which, after he had conquered a certain thickness of utterance, enabled him to acquire a matchless elocution. At first somewhat stilted and monotonous in his manner, he gradually emancipated himself from all artificial trammels, and became by perfection of art a model of simplicity. Talma enjoyed the intimacy of Napoleon, with whom he had an acquaintance before Napoleon attained greatness ; and he was a friend of Chenier, Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and other revolutionists. He made his last appearance 11th June 1826. and died at Paris 19th October of that year.
Talmo was the author of Menwires de Le Kain, precedes de Reftexions sur cet Acteur at sur l'Art Thatral, contributed to the Collection des Memoires sur l'Art Dramatique. It was published separately at Paris in 1856, under the title ReJle.vions de Talma sur Le Kain at l'Art TheAtral. See Memoires de J. F. Talma, &rigs par lui-menze, at receuillis at mis an ordre sur les papiers de sa famille, by Alex. Dumas (1856).