Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus and the Ghost (Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 4)

Various artists/makers

Not on view

Fascinated by the supernatural, Fuseli found rich subjects in Shakespeare. Alife-long devotee, the artist read the plays as a youth in Zurich then devised an elaborate mural scheme devoted to admired plays while in Rome during the 1770s. After settling in London, Fuseli contributed paintings to John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery, launched in 1786 as an exhibition cum print-publishing scheme funded by subscribers. Thew's print reproduces Fuseli's conception of the ghost scene at the start of "Hamlet" where the prince's murdered father appears outside Elsinore Castle to demand vengeance. This impression comes from an American reissue of 1852 spearheaded by Shearjashub Spooner, a New York dental surgeon, writer and art scholar who acquired Boydell's heavily worn plates and had them reworked. His New York edition was printed on thick cream paper with small numbers added in the lower left margin, this being number 96.

Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus and the Ghost (Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 4), Robert Thew (British, Patrington 1758–1802 Stevenage), Stipple engraving; fourth state of four

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