King Lear Casting Out His Daughter Cordelia (Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 1, Scene 1)

Various artists/makers

Not on view

Fuseli's image evokes a scene at the start of King Lear where the elderly king divests himself of power and orders his daughters-Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia-to declare their devotion in return for a portion of the kingdom. The latter's refusal to flatter a father she truly loves results in her banishment. Earlom's choice of stipple allows the varying expressions of numerous participants to be distinguished. The work was conceived for John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery, launched in 1786 as a publishing-cum-exhibition scheme that included a new illustrated edition of the plays, sets of large and small engravings, and a gallery on London's Pall Mall. The latter opened in 1789 with thirty-four paintings and contained about one hundred and seventy works the time Boydell went bankrupt and auctioned the contents in 1805–his print sales plummeted when Napoleon blocaded European ports. This impression belongs to an American reissue of 1852 spearheaded by Shearjashub Spooner, a New York dental surgeon and art scholar who acquired Boydell's heavily worn plates and had them reworked. Printed on thick cream colored paper, the New York edition added small numbers in the lower left margin, this being number 49.

King Lear Casting Out His Daughter Cordelia (Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 1, Scene 1), Richard Earlom (British, London 1743–1822 London), Stipple engraving; fourth state of four

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.