Marie Vernier, or Venier, (c. 1590–1627), was a French actress. She is commonly thought to be the first French actress to be known by name.
Vernier was the leading lady and co-director of Valleran-Lecomte's theatre company, which performed in Hôtel de Bourgogne in Paris and toured the country and the Spanish Netherlands. Vernier is confirmed to have performed in Paris from at least 1604 onwards. She was foremost a tragedienne. Marie Vernier was the first Parisian actress to be known by name.
A 1602 contract indicates Marie's marriage to Mathieu Lefebvre, a native of La Roche-Bernard in Brittany. Vernier was from Sens, where her father was procureur au bailliage. Lefebvre, who was born in 1574, performed under the stage-name of La Porte in Paris between 1594 and 1609.
Two other legal documents offer some insight into the lives of the Vernier and La Porte. In December 1622, Marie Venière petitioned for and was granted separation of property from her husband. In June 1624, Mathieu Lefebvre, “desirous of retiring into some private place to live there the rest of his days,” gave all his property, real and personal, to his wife in return for an annual pension of 150 livres. A petition for separation was an action available only to women and “depended legally on a husband’s failure to maintain his wife.” These petitions could also be motivated by the need to protect the household from creditors; perhaps that was the case here, since Lefebvre later donated all of his property to his wife.
- The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre | 1996 | PHYLLIS HARTNOLL and PETER FOUND
- WOMEN AND THE STAGE an address by Helena Modjeska
- Transnational exchange in early modern theater By Robert Henke, Eric Nicholson
- Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Marie Venier