Vestris, Gaetan, 1729-1808, Italian-French classical dancer, b. Florence. Vestris was one of the greatest dancers of the 18th cent. Born of an Italian theatrical family, he studied dance with Louis Dupré at the Royal Academy in Paris, then joined the Paris Opéra and served as dancing master to Louis XVI. Vestris was the first dancer to discard the mask and to use his face in mime.

He taught his son, Auguste Vestris, 1760-1842, b. Paris, who, in turn, was considered the greatest male dancer of his time. Auguste made his debut at 12 with the Paris Opéra and was the company's leading dancer for 36 years. After his retirement he trained many great dancers of the 19th cent., including Fanny Elssler and Jules Perrot.

Vestris, Lucia Elizabeth (Bartolozzi), 1797-1856, English actress and manager, the first woman to be a lessee of a theater. The daughter of a music and fencing teacher, she made an unsuccessful marriage at 16 to Armand Vestris, her ballet master. Following her debut (1815) in Italian opera, she acted at the Comédie Française with Talma, who suggested to her the ideas on realism in costuming that she was later to develop. After her success as Don Giovanni in a burlesque of Mozart's opera in 1820, Vestris became known for her natural style as a ballad-singing comedienne in light opera and in breeches parts (male roles). Not satisfied with contemporary methods of production, she leased the Olympic Theatre, London, in 1831, and was an instant success as manager and director. At great expense, she redecorated the theater and used realistic stage settings and real props; she was perhaps the first to use the box set complete with ceiling. Vestris produced Shakespearean comedies, with attention to text and historical accuracy, as well as burlesques and farces. She married Charles James Mathews in 1838 on the eve of what was to be an unsuccessful American tour and from 1839 to 1842 managed Covent Garden with him. In 1841 they produced Boucicault's London Assurance. In 1847 they took over the Lyceum, where they introduced French plays to England.

See R. Gilder, Enter the Actress (1931); W. W. Appleton, Madame Vestris and the London Stage (1974).

Vestris may refer to:

  • Auguste Vestris (1760–1842), French dancer, natural son of Gaëtan Vestris
  • Gaétan Vestris (1729–1808), French ballet dancer
  • Lucia Elizabeth Vestris (1797–1856), English actress
  • , a British passenger liner that sank on November 12, 1928; 112 of 325 passengers and crew were lost.

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