Pierre Théophile Thomas-E

Auxerre, October 10th 1846 – June 18th 1916, Ecouen

Pierre Theophile Thomas was a very successful theater costumes designer.
He started to work for theaters in 1871 and was lucky to be noticed by the famous actor Victorien Sardou (1831-1908) who immediately detected his talent, the sharpness of his drawings and the accuracy of his colors.
The Pierre Theophile Thomas first success came with the costumes of “le Roi Carotte” (the Carrot king), an Jacques Offenbach (1818-1880) “Bouffe-Opéra” (comical opera) shown on January 15th 1872 at the Paris “Gaïté-Lyrique” Opera theater. The Parisians, eager for some distractions after the sad events of the year 1870, made a triumph after discovering such sumptuous costumes.
In 1877, he has designed the costumes of “Cendrillon” from Jules Massenet (1842-1912) played in the Châtelet theatre, then, on December 28th 1881, the ones for “le Tonnelier” (the barrels maker) played at the “Opéra-Commique”, then in 1884, the ones for “Théodoré” from Victorien Sardoux played at the “Porte-Saint-Martin” theatre, then in 1894, the ones of “Gismonda” from Victoria Sardoux, the major actors being the famous actors Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) and Lucien Guitry (1840-1925), etc.
The list of Pierre Theophile Thomas successes is very long and he became, in the theaters world, a very much “in the mood” costumes designer.
Top of his fame was when he created twenty-four costumes for a Second French Empire review, at the Paris “Variétés” theatre.
He was part of the team working for the “Palace of the costumes” of the 1900 Paris Universal exhibition.

With his wife Marie Valentine Lemaire, Pierre Theophile Thomas arrives in Ecouen in 1886. They lived for some times on “rue de la Beauvette” (Beauvette street) then bought a house located on 15 Paul-Seignac street (currently rue Colette-Rousset) where he died on June 18th 1916.
The Pierre Theophile Thomas’s daughter married the artist painter Gaston Haag.

Pierre Theophile Thomas did not have a lot of activity outside of his professional field, being costumes for theater, but we know from him a beautiful portrait of Jacques Offenbach. It is currently visible at the museum of the Paris Opera.
Some of his realist style paintings and one showing the top of the Ecouen street where he lived have been recently auctioned at Sotheby’s.
Two wonderful watercolor paintings, “la rue de l’église en 1903 (church street in 1903) and “la rue de la Beauvette” (Beauvette street) from the same year, are on display at the Ecouen City Hall. They are of very similar style than the ones done by Blémond.

On June 1st 1916, “Le Gaulois” newspaper wrote a touchy article saying: “with him disappears one of the last bright artists like Schenck, Pierre Edouard Frere, Léon Dansaert who have honored with their fame the Ecouen area, being part of this colony of artists for more than forty years”.


Driving down Church street
Ecouen's church street

For further information, please read the book “L’Ecole d’Ecouen, une colonie de peintres au XIXe siècle” (bilingual French-English).