Lecouvreur, Adrienne (1690–1730)
French actress. Born April 5, 1690 (some sources cite 1692), at Damery, Marne, France; died Mar 20, 1730, in Paris; dau. of Robert Couvreur (hatter); mother's name unknown; mistress of Maurice of Saxony; children: 3 daughters, one of whom was the grandmother of Maurice Dupin de Francueil, father of George Sand.
Celebrated actress whose premature death left many questions; at 14, began touring with theatrical companies; at 16, became engaged to a baron but he died; had 3 more lovers: the noble Philippe le Ray, the actor Clavel, and the soldier Comte de Klinglin; appeared at Comédie Française (1717) in title role of Crébillon's Electre and as Angélique in Molière's George Dandin; for next 13 years, was the queen of tragedy there, attaining a popularity never before accorded an actress; is said to have played no fewer than 1,184 times in 100 roles, of which she created 22; recognized as the 1st French actress of her day, excelled in both tragedy and comedy; abandoned the stilted style of her predecessors, developing a natural style, revolutionizing acting, diction, and costuming; was on friendly terms with half the court of Philippe the Regent (later Philip V, king of Spain), and her salon was frequented by many notables and artists, among them Voltaire; fell in love and became mistress to the military leader Comte Maurice of Saxony (1721), fomenting the jealousy of another of his paramours, Françoise de Lorraine, duchess of Bouillon, who tried to poison her (July 1729); was suddenly stricken ill (Mar 20, 1730) and died suspiciously. Eugène Scribe and Ernest Legouvé wrote the well-known tragedy, Adrienne Lecouvreur, which starred renowned actress Rachel in the title role (1849).
See also Women in World History.