William Shakespeare (British, Stratford-upon-Avon 1564–1616 Stratford-upon-Avon)
Lithograph; second state of four
Image: 9 15/16 x 7 1/4 in. (25.3 x 18.4 cm)
Sheet: 11 x 8 9/16 in. (28 x 21.8 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, Ophelia, whose mind has become unhinged by the murder of her father Polonius, and rejection by Hamlet, has fallen into a stream while picking flowers, and her water-logged gown will soon drag her down to "muddy death." This sad event takes place offstage and is poetically described in act 4, scene 7 by Queen Gertrude. 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.
La mort d'Ophélie
Signature: in stone: "E.D. 1843"
Inscription: in stone, bottom right: "Lith. de Villain"; in stone, bottom center: "...Ses vêtements appesantis et trempés d'eau ont entrainé la pauvre malheureuse." [Queen Gertrude: Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, / Pull'd the poor wretch...]
Delteil 115 ii/iv; Delteil/Straiber 115 ii/iv
Adolphe Moreau Eugène Delacroix et son oeuvre. Librairie des Bibliophiles, Paris, 1873, cat. no. 88.
Loys Delteil "Le Peintre-Graveur Illustré: Ingres & Delacroix". Vol. III, Paris, 1908, cat. no. 115 ii, np.
Margret Stuffmann Eugène Delacroix. Themen und Variationen. Arbeiten auf Papier. Ex. cat. Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, Frankfurt, 1987, cat. no. G 11, p. 116.
Loys Delteil, Susan Elizabeth Strauber Delacroix: The Graphic Work : A Catalogue Raisonné. San Francisco, 1997, cat. no. 115 ii, p. 280.
Jane Martineau, Jonathan Bate, David Alexander, Christopher Baugh, John Warrack, Brian Allen, Maria Grazia Messina, Robin Hamlyn, Desmond Shawe-Taylor, John Christian Shakespeare in Art. Published on the occasion of the exhibition, Dulwich Picture Gallery. London and New York, 2003, cat. 69, pp. 192-3 (related oil painting, 1853, Louvre).
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.