Ophelia, from "Twelve Characters from Shakespeare"

Etched and published by John Hamilton Mortimer British
Subject William Shakespeare British

Not on view

Mortimer admired Salvator Rosa, absorbed aspects of his dramatic style, and sought British equivalents for his subjects. This etching comes from a series that Mortimer devoted to leading Shakespearean characters, based on drawings exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1775. Merging the seventeenth-century genres of the character head and tête d'expression (expressive head), Mortimer's designs also incorporate elements of history painting to convey the Bard's inventive range. Attracted mostly to tragic figures, the artist here portrays Ophelia with her mind unhinged by the murder of her father and rejection by Hamlet. She appears in act 4, scene 5 of Shakespeare's play, crowned with weeds and flowers, singing pathetically, and distributing symbolically resonant herbs to members of the court.

Ophelia, from "Twelve Characters from Shakespeare", Etched and published by John Hamilton Mortimer (British, Eastbourne 1740–1779 London), Etching

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