William Shakespeare (British, Stratford-upon-Avon 1564–1616 Stratford-upon-Avon)
Villain (French, active 1822–53)
Lithograph; second state of four
Image: 10 x 8 in. (25.4 x 20.3 cm)
Sheet: 11 5/16 x 8 7/8 in. (28.8 x 22.5 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1922
Not on view
In 1834 Delacroix began a series of lithographs devoted to Hamlet, creating moody images that mirror the troubled psyche of the prince. Choosing key scenes and poetic passages, the artist's highly personal and dramatic images were unusual in France, where interest in Shakespeare developed only in the nineteenth century. Here, in act 3, scene 2, the prince suspects that Guildenstern--a childhood friend just arrived at court--has been summoned by the king to act as a spy. As a result, Hamlet discomfits the visitor by insisting he play the recorder, then mocks him with puns on the theme of manipulation. Gihaut frères published the artist's thirteen-print set in 1843, with a second expanded edition of sixteen issued by Bertauts in 1864. Cooly received at first, the prints eventually were recognized as one of the artist's most significant achievements.
Hamlet et Guildenstern
Inscription: Lettered in stone, bottom right: "Lith. de Villain"..."Voudriez-vous jouer de cette flûte?...-Monseigneur je ne puis... -Je vous en conjure..." [Hamlet: Will you play upon this pipe? Guildenstern: My lord, I cannot. Hamlet: I pray you.]
Delteil 108 ii/iv; Delteil/Strauber 108 ii/iv
Adolphe Moreau Eugène Delacroix et son oeuvre. Librairie des Bibliophiles, Paris, 1873, cat. no. 81.
Loys Delteil "Le Peintre-Graveur Illustré: Ingres & Delacroix". Vol. III, Paris, 1908, cat. no. 108 ii, np.
Loys Delteil, Susan Elizabeth Strauber Delacroix: The Graphic Work : A Catalogue Raisonné. San Francisco, 1997, cat. no. 108 ii, p. 267.
Maria Grazia Messina "Shakespeare and Romantic Painting in Europe" in Shakespeare in Art, published on the occasion of the exhibition, Dulwich Picture Gallery. Jane Martineau, 2003, pp. 174-179 (opinions of Shakespeare in France, stage productions and paintings made in response by Delacroix and Chasseriau).
Peter Whitfield Illustrating Shakespeare. British Library, London, 2013, pp. 65-66.