1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Monvel
MONVEL (1745-1812), French actor and dramatic writer, whose real name was Jacques Marie Boutet, was born in Lunéville on the 25th of March 1745. He was a small, thin man without good looks or voice, and yet he became one of the greatest comedians of his time. After some years of apprenticeship in the provinces, he made his début in 1770 at the Comédie Française in Mérope and Zenaide; he was received sociétaire in 1772. For some reason unknown Monvel secretly left Paris for Sweden about 1781, and became reader to the king, a post which he held for several years. At the Revolution he returned to Paris, embraced its principles with ardour, and in 1791 joined the theatre in the rue Richelieu (the rival of the Comédie Francaise), which, under Talma, with Dugazon, his sister Mme Vestris, Grandmesnil (1737-1816) and Mme Desgarcins, was soon to become the Theatre de la République. After the Revolution Monvel returned to the reconstituted Comédie Française with all his old companions, but retired in 1807. Monvel was made a member of the Institute in 1795. He wrote six plays (four of them performed at the Comédie Française), two comedies, and fifteen comic operas, seven with music by N. Dezéde (1740-1792), eight by Nicolas d'Alayrac (1753-1809. He also published an historical novel, Frédégonde et Brunehaut (1776). He was professor of elocution at the Conservatoire. Monvel's two daughters, Mlles Mars ainée and cadette, were well-known actresses.