Henri-Louis Lekain

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lekain, Henri-Louis


(stage name of H.-L. Cain). Born Mar. 31, 1729, in Paris; died there Feb. 8, 1778. French actor. Son of a jeweler.

Lekain acted in plays at various private theaters in the 1740’s and joined the Comédie Française in Paris in 1750. His best roles were in Voltaire’s tragedies: Orosman in Zaïre, Mahomet in Mahomet, and Ghengis Khan in The Chinese Orphan; other important parts were Linsey and Tell in A.-M. Lemierre’s Hypermnestre and Guillaume Tell and the title role in J.-F. de La Harpe’s Warwick.

A student of Voltaire and a follower of his social and aesthetic views, Lekain was the outstanding actor of enlightened classicism. He opposed salon-like, aristocratic refinement in acting and, drawing upon the traditions of M. Baron and A. Lecouvreur, created characterizations full of civic enthusiasm and majestic simplicity. Lekain reformed theatrical costumes by seeking historical and ethnographic authenticity in the characters’ clothes.


Mémoires de Henri Louis Le Kain. Paris, 1801.


Istoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra, vol. 2. Moscow, 1957.
Olivier, J. J. Henri-Louis Le Kain. Paris, 1907.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.