The armchair in which Molière felt ill: 2 hours later, he was dead

The armchairThe armchair | ©Peter Potrowl / CC-BY • Molière

Did you know that we can see Molière’s armchair in the foyer of the Comédie-Française?

The one in which he performed his last play, Le Malade imaginaire ("The Imaginary Invalid") and in which he died?

First and last time...

February 10th 1673. Molière coughed, coughed, he coughed his lungs. Whoa, he was very sick!

But the show must go on, said one guy, so... he pulled himself together and went on stage to perform the opening night of his Malade imaginaire, where he had the starring role, Argan.

It was his last play. Performed not in the Comédie-Française, but in the neighbouring Palais-Royal theatre.

You know? The one which is located at the back of Palais-Royal gardens.

One week later, the play was still a smash hit.

Molière tried to look contented but he was dying... hey, look at him: after the last scene, he stayed slump into his armchair, dressed in his dressing gown, with a night cap on his head, waxy-coloured face...

As pale as death... Strange coincidence, death and illness are omnipresent in this comedy.

Hovering this evening, threatening, and yet so familiar to Molière, who was already half dead...

Frozen hands

The curtain fell. Molière tottered towards the dressing room of his friend actor Michel Baron.

Molière asked him: what did the critics say about the play?

Michel, worried, said he didn’t look very well. Molière said something like: "Oh, yes, I have a cold which is killing me".

Michel took his hands: whoa, they were frozen!

He put them in a muff to warm them up and asked bearers to take Molière back in his house, rue de Richelieu, a few steps away from the theatre.

The last Parmesan

Molière get into bed, helped by his loyal pal Michel. He brought him broth.

Molière didn’t want it, he just nibbled a piece of Parmesan cheese with bread.

Then, he violently coughed and spit blood. It was the end...

2 hours later, he was dead. He was 51 years old.

The book Le roman de Molière written by Edouard Fournier (1863) says:

"The day after the play, at about 10 PM, M. Molière died in his house rue Richelieu. He had a kind of cold and a pneumonia, which caused him a big cough, so one of his vein broke and he only lived 45 minutes."

Here we are. Molière left tenacious beliefs, do you know them?

Indeed, the legend says he died on stage dressed in a green costume. Died on stage, wrong, we saw it.

What about the green suit? The legend says wearing green on a stage brings actors bad luck.

Hey, because of Molière’s death...