William Shakespeare (British, Stratford-upon-Avon 1564–1616 Stratford-upon-Avon)
Lithograph; second state of three
Image: 11 3/8 x 7 15/16 in. (28.9 x 20.1 cm)
Sheet: 12 3/4 x 7 15/16 in. (32.4 x 20.1 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 we are presented with the play's tragic conclusion in act 5, scene 2. Supported by Horatio, Hamlet expires after being pricked with a poisoned sword, and Laertes has been felled by the same means. In an alcove at left, Gertrude collapses after drinking a potion that the king intended for Hamlet. 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' Hamlet
Signature: in the stone bottom right: "Eug Delacroix / 1843."
Inscription: in stone bottom right: "Lith. de Villain"; in stone bottom center: "Ah! je meurs, Horatie! justifie-moi et ma cause auprès de ceux qui m'accuseraient.......Quelle vaste curée a faite la mort! que de princes frappés à la fois par le trépas!" [Horatio, I am dead....report me and my cause aright to the unsatisfied.....this quarry cries on havoc. O proud Death...that thou so many princes at a shot so bloodily hast struck!]
Delteil 118 ii/iii; Delteil/Strauber 118 ii/iii
Adolphe Moreau Eugène Delacroix et son oeuvre. Librairie des Bibliophiles, Paris, 1873, cat. no. 91.
Loys Delteil "Le Peintre-Graveur Illustré: Ingres & Delacroix". Vol. III, Paris, 1908, cat. no. 118 ii, np.
Margret Stuffmann Eugène Delacroix. Themen und Variationen. Arbeiten auf Papier. Ex. cat. Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, Frankfurt, 1987, cat. no. G 12, p. 119.
Jacob Bean, Lee Johnson, William M. Griswold Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863): Paintings, Drawings, and Prints from North American Collections. Ex. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1991.
Loys Delteil, Susan Elizabeth Strauber Delacroix: The Graphic Work : A Catalogue Raisonné. San Francisco, 1997, cat. no. 118 ii, p. 288.
Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel Die Shakespeare-Illustration (1594–2000). 3 vols., Wiesbaden and Mainz, 2003, vol. I, p. 69, fig. 115; vol. III, pp. 936, 1206, no. 2504, 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.