Illustrating Shakespeare

Illustrating Shakespeare


By (author) Peter Whitfield


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  • Publisher: The British Library Publishing Division
  • Format: Hardback | 144 pages
  • Dimensions: 204mm x 274mm x 24mm | 940g
  • Publication date: 15 May 2013
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0712358897
  • ISBN 13: 9780712358897
  • Illustrations note: 20 colour, 80 black and white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 847,914

Product description

Artists have been drawn to the plays of Shakespeare for more than three centuries. For the artist, the challenge was to re-create the characters and the drama not on the living stage, but to freeze them into images that were timeless, and not bound within the walls of a theatre. Painters as varied as Hogarth, Blake, Fuseli, West, Delacroix, Millais and Waterhouse produced works of art which have strongly influenced our mental image of the plays. Other less-known artists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries produced magnificent illustrated editions of Shakespeare's works, which functioned as private theatres, enabling readers at home to re-create the plays in their own imagination. This book shows how some artists succeeded in capturing the psychological truth of the dramas, while others merely dressed them up to suit the taste of their time. In this respect of course, the history of Shakespearean art exactly resembles that of Shakespearean theatre production; but where the theatre is ephemeral, the artistic tradition has become the rich and permanent legacy displayed in this fascinating book.

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Author information

Peter Whitfield is the author of 20 books on history, poetry and literary criticism, including The Image of the World: 20 Centuries of World Maps (2010), A Shakespeare Handbook (2012) and Travel: A Literary History (2012).

Review quote

"An attractive-looking book that might grace any coffee table, "Illustrating Shakespeare" invites the casual browser to enter the fascinating world of art based on Shakespeare. . . . Whitfield's book is to be commended for providing an accessible and affordable summary of an immensely rich and engaging subject, illustrated with a generous array of reproductions from both books and paintings."--Alan R. Young, Acadia University "Comparative Drama "