A native of Paris, Vibert entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1857 and by 1864 had already won a medal at the Salon. A multi- talented figure, Vibert was also a published author, writing for Century Magazine as well as writing plays for the Palais Royale, Variétés and the Vaudeville. This penchant for the theatre is clearly evident in the artist's oeuvre, and his literary aspirations most certainly fueled his artistic expression.
The Thespians is clearly a subject matter that was close to the artist' heart and his interest and participation in the theatre is clearly apparent in the present painting. The artist has arranged his characters as if they are appearing in a play and the surface of the painting is most definitely a stage. Whether they are practicing their parts or simply being their theatrical selves, the actors depicted in the painting are all masters of expression, movement and spontaneity. Except for the figure whose back is to the viewer, each actor in the painting is playing to the audience (the viewer) and trying to set themselves off to the best advantage. Given the artist's proficiency with expressions and minute attention to detail, the effect is an amusing and accurate glimpse into the theatrical life of Paris in the 19th Century.