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Gaetano Appolino Baldassare Vestris

Gaetano Appolino Baldassare Vestris (1729 - 1808), French ballet dancer, was born in Florence and made his debut at the opera in 1749.

By 1751 his success and his vanity had grown to such a point that he is reported to have said, "There are but three great men in Europe--the king of Prussia, Voltaire and I." He was an excellent mimic as well as dancer. From 1770 to 1776 he was a master and composer of ballets, retiring, in favour of Noverre, with a pension. Two other pensions fell to him, when he gave up his positions of first dancer and of first dancer of court ballets, amounting in all to 9,200 livres.

Vestris married a dancer, Anna Heinel (1753 - 1808), of German origin, who had a wonderful success at the opera. He reappeared at the age of seventy-one on the occasion of his grandson's debut. By the dancer Mlle. Allard, Vestris had a son, Marie Auguste Vestris Allard (1760 - 1842), also a ballet dancer, who surpassed his father, if possible, in both talent and vanity. His son, Auguste Armand Vestris (b. c 1795), who took to the same profession, made his debut at the opera in 1800, but left Paris for Italy and never reappeared in France. Gaetano's brother, Angelo Vestris (1730 - 1809), married Marie Rose Gourgaud, the sister of the actor Dugazon.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.