Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ophelia (Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 4)

Engraver:
Francesco Bartolozzi (Italian, Florence 1728–1815 Lisbon)
Artist:
After James Nixon (British, ca. 1741–1812)
Subject:
William Shakespeare (British, Stratford-upon-Avon 1564–1616 Stratford-upon-Avon)
Date:
1784
Medium:
Etching and stipple engraving, printed in brown ink; fourth state of four
Dimensions:
oval image: 4 1/2 x 3 5/8 in. (11.4 x 9.2 cm) sheet: 8 1/4 x 7 in. (21 x 17.8 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1917
Accession Number:
17.3.2843
Not on view
Ophelia appears in act 4 of Shakespeare's play, her mind unhinged by her father's murder. Singing nonsense rhymes, she distributes herbs to the king, queen and her brother then, soon afterward, slips into a stream while picking flowers, and drowns. Gertrude, the queen describes this tragedy thus:
There with fantastic garlands did she make,
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples....
There, on the pendent bough her coronet weeds,
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself, fell in the weeping book...
Bartolozzi's engraving, based on a drawing by Nixon, combines elements from both episodes to characterize Ophelia's tragic end.
Inscription: Inscribed in plate, below image at left: "James Nixon Pinzi-t. [sic] "; at right: "F. Bartolozzi Sculp-t."; below image: "Ophelia"
Harris Brisbane Dick; Donor: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund Vendor: Dick Estate, U.S. Trust
De Vesme & Calabi 1860 iv/iv
Alexandre de Vesme, Augusto Calabi Francesco Bartolozzi. Catalogue des estampes et notice biographique d'après les manuscrits de A. De Vesme entièrement réformés et complétés d'une étude critique par A. Calabi, Milan, Guido Modiano. Milan, 1928, cat. no. 1860 iv/iv, pp. 470-71.



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