A French circus artist specializing in aerial acts, who died young from smallpox or cholera, while in Spain, but whose name is immortalized in his invention of the leotard as a practical clothing for his art. Born in Toulouse, where his father taught gymnastics, he forsook a training in law to develop his gymnastic art. Using three trapezes and a routine involving elaborate somersaults and physical dexterity, Leotard was a performance celebrity in Paris, London, and New York. Jules Verne cross-referenced him in his Around the World in 80 Days (1873); Leotard cravats, brooches, and walking-sticks became fashionable and popular; and George Leybourne's song (1867) celebrated him: ‘He flies through the air with the greatest of ease, That daring young man on the flying trapeze’. Leotard is an early case study in the cross-over between physical and body culture, spectator sport, commercial spin-offs, and fashion.
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.