William Shakespeare (British, Stratford-upon-Avon 1564–1616 Stratford-upon-Avon)
Lithograph; second state of four
Image: 11 1/4 x 8 1/4 in. (28.5 x 21 cm)
Sheet: 12 1/2 x 9 5/16 in. (31.8 x 23.7 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1922
Not on view
Of all the authors from whom Delacroix drew inspiration, none was more important to him than Shakespeare. The haunted, brooding figure of Hamlet was the subject of four paintings and a series of lithographs. Begun in 1834, these moody prints profoundly influenced the French vision of the prince of Denmark and served as a model for the costuming and staging of the French actor Rouvière's performances in the late 1840s. In this image of act 5, scene 1, Hamlet and Horatio converse with two men digging Ophelia's grave, a scene omitted from French productions of the play because its mixed tragic and comic elements contravened national standards of dramatic unity. 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 Horatio devant les fossoyeurs
Signature: in stone, bottom left: "Eug. Delacroix / 1843"
Inscription: in stone, bottom right: "Lith. de Villain"; in stone bottom center: "Ce crâne, Monsieur, était celui d'Yorick, le Bouffon du Roi. -- Hélâs! Pauvre Yorick!" [First Clown: ... This same skull, / sir, was Yorick's skull, the king's jester. Hamlet: Alas, poor Yorick! ...]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 14, 1997–July 20, 1997.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," November 1, 1999–January 24, 2000.
Delteil 116 ii/iv; Delteil/Strauber 116 ii/iv
Adolphe Moreau Eugène Delacroix et son oeuvre. Librairie des Bibliophiles, Paris, 1873, cat. no. 90.
Loys Delteil "Le Peintre-Graveur Illustré: Ingres & Delacroix". Vol. III, Paris, 1908, cat. no. 116 ii, np.
Margret Stuffmann Eugène Delacroix. Themen und Variationen. Arbeiten auf Papier. Ex. cat. Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, Frankfurt, 1987, cat. no. G 10, p. 114.
Loys Delteil, Susan Elizabeth Strauber Delacroix: The Graphic Work : A Catalogue Raisonné. San Francisco, 1997, cat. no. 116 ii, p. 284.
Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel Die Shakespeare-Illustration (1594–2000). 3 vols., Wiesbaden and Mainz, 2003, vol. I, p. 67, fig. 107; vol. III, pp. 926, 1202, no. 2472, ill.
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.