Maria H. Dehon Polk collection of Constant Coquelin
Scope and Contents
The Maria H. Dehon Polk Collection of Constant Coquelin consists of correspondence, photographs, and a small amount of writings, ephemera, clippings, and other printed material. The collection documents Maria H. Dehon's friendship with Coquelin and reflects her interest in his career.
The collection is housed in three boxes and two portfolios and is organized into four series: Letters to Maria H. Dehon Polk, Writings by Constant Coquelin, Printed Material, and Photographs. The portfolios contain Oversize and Restricted Fragile materials.
Series I, Letters to Maria H. Dehon Polk , consists of three subseries, each arranged chronologically: Letters From Constant Coquelin, Transcriptions of Letters From Constant Coquelin, and Letters From Other Correspondents. Letters and transcriptions of letters from Coquelin, in French, 1894-1908 and undated, concern his friendship with Dehon, their travels, and Coquelin's performances and tours. Letters discuss his legal difficulties with the Comédie-Française, his work with the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin and other theaters, the founding of the Maison de retraite des vieux comédiens, and friends and colleagues including Ernest Coquelin, Jean Coquelin, Sarah Bernhardt, Geraldine Farrar, Edmond Rostand, Pierre-Marie-René Waldeck-Rousseau, and artist Jean-Charles Cazin. Some letters are written on printed or photographic postcards showing portraits of Coquelin or views of the Maison de retraite des vieux comédiens. Transcriptions are written in an unidentified hand and include most of the original letters present in the collection, as well as many additional letters not otherwise present. A few transcriptions were annotated in holograph by Dehon during the 1920s-30s regarding their content. Also present are a few envelopes annotated by Dehon, 1913-1920 and undated, concerning her intentions for disposition of the letters. The third subseries consists of a few letters from A. Chabert, in French, 1910-1934, and Mrs. John Innes Kane, undated. Letters from Chabert concern his interest in memorializing Coquelin and the establishment of a Musée Cazin-Coquelin in Pas-de-Calais.
Series II, Writings by Constant Coquelin , consists of an undated holograph of Coquelin's Tartuffe (published by Paul Ollendorff, Paris, 1884), and a holograph notebook titled "Joseph D'Arimathie, 3eme acte," undated.
Series III, Printed Material , is arranged alphabetically. Material relating to the Maison de retraite des vieux comédiens includes a program for a benefit performance, 1908, and a few promotional items, 1929 and undated. Also present are a program for a benefit for the Society of the Relief of the Destitute Blind, New York, 1901, and newspaper clippings, most concerning Coquelin's death, -1909 and undated.
Series IV, Photographs , is organized into two subseries: Portraits of Constant Coquelin and Other Photographs. Portraits are cabinet photographs and prints, most undated, several with signatures or inscriptions to Dehon. Included are portraits taken in costume as Cyrano de Bergerac and other theater roles. Other photographs are undated and include a group taken late in Coquelin's life on board a ship with several unidentified people. Also present are postcards showing views of Pont-aux-Dames and a set of photographs of paintings of Coquelin, with a few paintings of Coquelin cadet and Jean Coquelin, in costume in various theater roles. The set is inscribed to Dehon and each photograph is captioned in holograph by Coquelin.
- [ca. 1884]-1934
- Polk, Maria H. Dehon, approximately 1857-1941 (Collector)
- Coquelin, Constant, 1841-1909
- Coquelin, Constant, 1841-1909 (Tartuffe)
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Restricted Fragile in portfolio 2 may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies for reference use have been substituted in the main files.
Conditions Governing Use
The Maria H. Dehon Polk Collection of Constant Coquelin is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of the estate of Maria H. Dehon Polk, 1941.
1.25 Linear Feet ((3 boxes) + 2 portfolios)
Language of Materials
Chiefly letters from Coquelin to Maria H. Dehon, including ALS and manuscript transcriptions, and photographs. Also present are a small amount of other correspondence, writings by Coquelin, including an undated holograph of a work on Moliére's Tartuffe, published in 1884, printed materials concerning the Maison de retraite des vieux comédiens, other ephemera, and clippings. Letters from Coquelin, 1894-1908 and undated, concern his friendship with Dehon, their travels, and Coquelin's performances and tours. The letters discuss the Comédie-Français, the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin, the Maison de retraite des vieux comédiens, and friends and colleagues including Ernest Coquelin, Jean Coquelin, Sarah Bernhardt, Geraldine Farrar, Edmond Rostand, Pierre-Marie-René Waldeck Rousseau, and artist Jean-Charles Cazin. Other correspondence includes letters to Dehon from A. Chabert concerning the establishment of a Musée Cazin-Coquelin. Photographs include cabinet photographs and prints, most portraits of Coquelin, including several portraits in costume as Cyrano de Bergerac and other theater roles. Also present are postcards showing views of Pont-aux-Dames and a set of photographs of paintings of Coquelin in various theater roles.
CONSTANT COQUELIN (1841-1909) AND MARIA H. DEHON POLK (ca. 1857-1941)
The French actor Constant Coquelin, called Coquelin aîné, was noted for his roles in the plays of Molière and other classical dramatists. He was a member of the Comédie-Française, 1860-1886 and 1890-1892, and toured extensively in Europe and the Americas. In 1897 he created the title role in Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac at the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin, where he served as director. In 1900 he toured the United States with Sarah Bernhardt. Coquelin was the author of works on dramatists and on the art of acting, including L'art et le comédien (1880), Molière et le Misanthrope (1881), and Tartuffe (1884). In 1905 he founded the Maison de retraite des vieux comédiens, a community for retired actors, at Pont-aux-Dames. Coquelin died at Pont-aux-Dames in 1909, while rehearsing Rostand's Chantecler. Both Coquelin's younger brother, Ernest, called Coquelin cadet, and Coquelin's son, Jean, were actors.
Maria H. Dehon was born and lived in New York City, where she was known for her friendships with singers of the Metropolitan Opera. She was associated with Constant Coquelin during her travels in Europe in the 1890s and during his subsequent tours of the United States. They maintained a friendship and correspondence until his death. Dehon married William Mecklenburg Polk, a physician, in 1914. William Mecklenburg Polk died in 1918.
- Actors -- France
- Actors -- France
- Bernhardt, Sarah, 1844-1923
- Cabinet photographs
- Cazin, Jean-Charles, 1841-1901
- Chabert, A.
- Coquelin, Constant, 1841-1909
- Coquelin, Ernest
- Coquelin, Jean, 1865-1944
- Farrar, Geraldine, 1882-1967
- French drama
- Maison de retraite des vieux comédiens
- Molière, 1622-1673 -- Criticism and interpretation
- Musée Cazin-Coquelin
- Photographic prints
- Polk, Maria H. Dehon, approximately 1857-1941
- Rostand, Edmond, 1868-1918
- Theater -- France
- Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin (Paris, France)
- Waldeck-Rousseau, Pierre-Marie-René, 1846-1904
- Guide to the Maria H. Dehon Polk Collection of Constant Coquelin
- Under Revision
- by Karen M. Spicher
- January 2000
- Description rules
- Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.