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The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0567  Friday, 31 August 2007

From: 		Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Friday, August 31, 2007
Subject: 	Folger Shakespeare Library's 75th Anniversary Celebration


- On Exhibit September 20, 2007 through January 5, 2008

- Exhibition part of Folger Shakespeare Library's 75th Anniversary 

August 28, 2007 -- Imagine a world in which there were no museums or art 
collections open to the public, no collections held by the nation. At 
the end of the eighteenth century in England, the only way to experience 
art was by invitation to view a private collection or by seeing a print 
engraved from the original. John Boydell (1719-1804), a prominent London 
print-dealer, publisher and politician, and his brother Josiah, changed 
that with the opening of their Shakespeare Gallery in 1789.

The Gallery, located at fashionable 52 Pall Mall, filled more than 4000 
feet of wall space with paintings of Shakespearean scenes by the leading 
artists of the day, among them Joshua Reynolds (then President of the 
Royal Academy), Angelica Kaufmann, Benjamin West, George Romney, and 
Henry Fuseli. This precursor to modern art museums even had a shop 
downstairs. It quickly became the place to be seen in Regency England. 
Fanny Burney the novelist turned up; so did Horace Walpole and many others.

Images from the Gallery were widely distributed, creating spin-offs and 
competitors. At the same time, Shakespeare's popularity on the stage 
with actors such as Sarah Siddons and John Philip Kemble generated a 
market for Shakespeare-themed knick-knacks, from jewelry and enameled 
boxes to figurines, Wedgwood containers, and even decorative tiles for 
the home.

Marketing Shakespeare: The Boydell Gallery (1789-1805), co-curated by 
Ann R. Hawkins of Texas Tech University and Folger Head of Reference 
Georgianna Ziegler, chronicles the development of the Shakspeare 
Gallery, both its growth and decline, and the part it played in a 
growing market for Shakespeare-related goods in the "Romantic" period. 
The exhibition is on view September 20, 2007 through January 5, 2008, 
Monday through Saturday, 10am - 5pm (please note new hours), at the 
Folger Shakespeare Library. Admission is free.

Drawing from the Folger's rich art collection, and featuring original 
works by Henry Fuseli, Caroline Watson, Francesco Bartolozzi, and 
William Blake, Marketing Shakespeare will display 100 items from the 
Gallery-original paintings, engravings, and documents-as well as 
cartoons and other reactions to it. The exhibition captures the Gallery, 
Boydell's most famous-and influential-endeavor, a venture that existed 
at the junction of book and canvas, and gives us a rare glimpse into 
popular tastes for Shakespeare at the turn of the eighteenth-century. 
Also on exhibit is a variety of decorative wares that were sold at the 
time, including porcelains and enamels of popular Shakespearean actors 
and actresses.

Interestingly, the Gallery was an after-thought, a marketing strategy to 
sell subscriptions to Boydell's "magnificent and accurate" National 
Edition of Shakespeare's plays. The unique illustrated edition featured 
custom engravings of Shakespearean scenes from paintings by the leading 
artists of the day. After the engraver finished making the plates, the 
paintings were returned to Boydell who then hit upon the idea of 
exhibiting them in a purpose-built gallery. Commissioning the paintings 
themselves was a bit of a scheme on the part of the Boydell brothers to 
encourage "history" painting in England and improve the national taste 
while also making money.

"We can learn something about popular tastes for Shakespeare from the 
growth of the gallery over time," says Hawkins. "When the Shakspeare 
Gallery opened in the fall of 1789, visitors could view thirty-four 
scenes from twenty-one plays. Of these thirty-four paintings, eight 
plays received multiple illustrations: The Merry Wives of Windsor (2), 
Richard III (3), A Midsummer Night's Dream (2), As You Like It (3), The 
Winter's Tale (3), King Lear (3), Much Ado about Nothing (3), and Romeo 
and Juliet(2)."

"By the opening of the 1790 exhibition," continues Hawkins, "ten of the 
remaining fifteen plays were represented, leaving only Julius Caesar, 
Othello, Coriolanus, Richard II, and Cymbeline without a painting. By 
1792, only Coriolanus and Julius Caesar remained without illustration, 
but paintings of these remaining plays did not appear until 1802. Though 
Boydell had only predicted providing two paintings for each play, when 
the Gallery closed, all plays had received at least two illustrations, 
and others had far more. As You Like It, for example, had been 
illustrated thirteen times, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, eight times."

Boydell's grand design ultimately involved donating his gallery and its 
contents to the nation, his gift to the country celebrating its national 
poet and creating its national art. But the Napoleonic wars doomed 
Boydell's project, wiping out the European markets he had hoped would 
purchase his prints. To settle his debts, Boydell organized a lottery to 
sell off the paintings, drawings, and Gallery. Boydell's engravings 
continued to illustrate editions of Shakespeare through the end of the 
nineteenth-century. The large engraved plates even had a second life in 
America, where they were repaired and reissued-again by 
subscription-across the country.

Though Boydell's gallery disappeared, the building that housed it became 
home next to the British Institution, which held its own exhibitions and 
which many credit as the forerunner to the British Museum. The 
alto-relievo of Shakespeare that once greeted visitors to the Gallery 
now stands in the garden of Nash's House on the site of Shakespeare's 
home, New Place, in Stratford-upon-Avon.

About the Curators

Ann R. Hawkins is an associate professor of English at Texas Tech 
University. She specializes in nineteenth-century British literature and 
book history and has published scholarly editions of three novels by 
Disraeli and the Countess of Blessington, as well as articles on 
nineteenth-century women poets, Lord Byron, and the British book trade. 
She is currently finishing a book on Shakespearean commodification in 
the Romantic era titled Byron and the Shakespeare Trade.

Georgianna Ziegler is Louis B. Thalheimer Head of Reference at the 
Folger where she has curated exhibitions on Shakespeare's Unruly Women 
and Queen Elizabeth I. She has published articles on Shakespeare in the 
nineteenth century and the Boydell Gallery, and is currently writing a 
book on Women and Shakespeare, 1790-1890.

Major exhibition support comes from the Winton and Carolyn Blount 
Exhibition Fund of the Folger Shakespeare Library.


October 17
Gallery Talk: Marketing Shakespeare: The Boydell Gallery (1789-1805) and 
Curators offer Folger members a special insider's look at the current 
exhibit. Wednesday, 6pm. Members only; membership begins at $75. Call 
202.675.0359 to join.

October 17 - November 25
Folger Theatre: As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Subject of the most paintings in the Shakspeare Gallery, As You Like It 
creates a world of passionate possibility in the Forest of Arden for the 
banished Rosalind and Orlando as chance encounters blossom into love. 
Directed by Derek Goldman, with Sarah Marshall as Touchstone, Amanda 
Quaid as Rosalind, and Tonya Beckman Ross as Phoebe.


Monday - Friday at 11am and Saturday at 11am and 1pm
Folger Docents offer guided tours of the exhibition, as well as the 
Folger's national landmark building, free of charge. No advance 
reservations required.

Group Tours
Docent-led tours of the exhibition, as well as the Folger national 
landmark building, are offered for groups of 10 or more. To arrange, 
please call (202) 675-0395.

Guide by Cell Audio Tours
Visitors, using their own cell phones, can call (202) 595-1844 and 
follow the prompts for 34# through 45# to hear the curators share 
insights into the exhibition. Available September 17, 2007.

Upcoming Folger Exhibitions

History in the Making: How Early Modern England Imagined Its Past
January 24, 2008 - May 17, 2008
Alan Stewart and Garrett Sullivan, Curators

The act of commemoration is at the heart of the study of Renaissance 
England-both in our tribute to that society and in that society's 
remembrance of its own past. Explore how the Tudor regime turned to 
rewritings of history to explain its right to the English throne and 
invented its own past and its own martyrs through history texts.

Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-class center for scholarship, 
learning, culture, and the arts. It is home to the world's largest 
Shakespeare collection and a primary repository for rare materials from 
the early modern period (1500-1750). Folger Shakespeare Library is an 
internationally recognized research library offering advanced scholarly 
programs in the humanities; an innovator in the preservation of rare 
materials; a national leader in how Shakespeare is taught in grades 
K-12; and an award-winning producer of cultural and arts programs - 
theater, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures, and family programs. By 
promoting understanding of Shakespeare and his world, Folger Shakespeare 
Library reminds us of the enduring influence of his works, the formative 
effects of the Renaissance on our own time, and the power of the written 
and spoken word. A gift to the American people from industrialist Henry 
Clay Folger, the Folger Shakespeare Library - located one block east of 
the U.S. Capitol - opened in 1932. Learn more at www.folger.edu

Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol Street, SE, one block from the U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20003

METRO: Union Station (red line) or Capitol South (orange / blue line)

Open Monday through Saturday, 10am - 5pm. Closed Sundays and federal 
holidays. Admission is free.

Daily Free Guided Tours of the exhibition and building by Folger 
Docents: 11am, Monday - Friday; 11am, 1 and 2pm Saturdays.

Source: Folger Shakespeare Library

S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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