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THE GREATEST PLAYWRIGHT in the world had a hand in the arts other than stagecraft. Here are works inspired by William Shakespeare, ranging from those of his fellow Elizabethans to artists, musicians, and scholars of our own time. This subject is rich enough to tell in two parts, today and tomorrow.
Before Shakespeare’s time, the art of portraiture, religious, and mythological subjects predominated. There were exceptions, however.
Shakespeare characters appeared in posters and other material illustrating his works in his own era.
A reproduction of an early 17th-century engraving from A Midsummer Night’s Dream is listed at an unexpected source, albeit currently out of stock.
Cartoon styles continued to be popular a century after Shakespeare’s time. This next example shows Macbeth and the three witches, two telling him he shall be king, the third suggesting a noose instead.
Famous artists contributed Shakespearean art as well. William Blake, 1757–1827, was an important poet (“Tyger, Tyger burning bright…”) and painter of the Romantic Age. This illustration for Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act 4, Scene 1, displays Blake’s mystical side.
Eugène Delacroix, 1798–1863, was a French Romantic artist perhaps best known for his Liberty Leading the People commemorating France’s July Revolution of 1830. He also portrayed Shakespeare scenes in lithograph, including this one from Hamlet.
The invention of photography in the 19th century was to offer artists a new medium in which to explore Shakespearean influences. And then came the 20th-century, with everything from cubism to CD recordings. These aspects appear tomorrow in Part 2.
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays, 2018