BRANDÈS, MARTHE (Marthe-Joséphine Brunschwig):
French actress; born in Paris Jan. 31, 1862. She first studied design, sculpture, and music, and, finally, the drama. Successful in private theatricals, she entered the Paris Conservatoire and studied under Gustave Worms. In 1882-83 she won prizes; and Alexandre Dumas fils was so struck by her histrionic talent that he engaged her for the Théâtre du Vaudeville. From the first (1884), through her interpretation of Diane de Lys, Brandès became a favorite actress with the Parisian public. As Georgette in Sardou's play, in the "Renée" of M. W. Busnach (1887), and in Moreau's "Gerfant," she obtained distinguished successes as a comédienne.
Brandès' first appearance at the Comédie Française (Sept. 27, 1887) was in the part of Francine de Riverolles in Dumas the younger's "Francillon." She excelled also in classical parts, such as in "Andromaque" and "Iphigénie en Aulide," and especially in "Princesse Georges" (Feb. 27, 1888), Fr. Coppée's "Passant," and Dumas the elder's "Henri III. et sa Cour" (Jan. 5, 1889).
Returning to the Vaudeville in 1890, Brandès recreated many parts, and gained splendid triumphs in "Liliane" (Feb. 24, 1891), in Jules Lemaître's "Révoltée" (April, 1891), as Hélène Rousseau in Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler," and in Paul Hervieu's "Les Paroles Restent." On Nov. 17, 1892, she went back to the Théâtre Français.
Henceforth Miss Brandès became the interpreter par excellence of the plays of Dumas the younger and Paul Hervieu. She excelled in the portrayal of the modern woman of the world, self-willed and nervous. De Curel's "L'Amour Brode" and Parodi's "Reine Juana" (1893) won for her an individual position as an actress. Her great successes were in Pailleron's "Cabotins" (1894) and Hervieu's "Les Tenailles" (Sept. 28, 1895). She was elected a "sociétaire" in 1896, despite some slight opposition. Her powers as an actress were further developed in these years. She played in Meilhac's "Grosse Fortune," Lavedan's "Catherine" (1898), and in most of the stock plays of the Comédie (e.g., Hugo's "Ruy Blas" and "Hernani," Molière's "Tartuffe," Emile Augier's "L'Aventurière," and Beaumarchais's "Le Mariage de Figaro").