Robert Macaire  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Robert Macaire (Chevalier Macaire) was a noted criminal and assassin who appears in French plays. His name is renowned in French culture as that of the archetypal villain.

Macaire was convicted of a murder in trial by combat with a witness in the shape of the dog of the murdered man. According to, the murdered man was Aubry de Montdidier of France, slain in the forest of Bondy. The trial reputedly occurred on October 8, 1361.

Aubry de Montdidier was a fictional French knight of Charles V. The only witness of the murder was Montdidier's dog, which acted so violently against Macaire in court that King Charles ordered a duel between the dog and Macaire. As the dog won, Macaire confessed and was hanged.

In popular culture

His is the name of the title character in the 1842 book Physiologie du Robert-Macaire written by Pierre Joseph Rousseau (James Rousseau) and illustrated by Henri Daumier. From this topicality, a character of this name appeared in the nineteenth-century melodrama play L'Auberge des Adrets, or 'The Adrets' Inn'. As played in 1823 by the star Frédérick Lemaître as a bluff, free-living, unblushing libertine, who committed horrible crimes without stint or compunction, he became phenomenally acclaimed in France. However, most of the performance was timing, intonation, facial expression, and gesture; reading the play suggests none of the performance. In the play, Macaire's accomplice is Bertrand, a simpleton and villain.

An internationally successful comic opera, Erminie, was based on the play, premiering in London in 1885, followed by an extraordinarily successful Broadway production in 1886 and considerable touring in America and Europe.

Films were later made with the character Macaire, including Robert Macaire et Bertrand (1907) and The Adventures of Robert Macaire (1925). Lemaître's performance in L'Auberge des Adrets (courtesy of actor Pierre Brasseur) was featured in the French film Les Enfants du Paradis (1945).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Robert Macaire" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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