King Lear Weeping Over the Body of Cordelia (Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 5, Scene 3)

Various artists/makers

Not on view

Legat's print reproduces Barry's tragic representation of King Lear mourning his daughter, the original nine by twelve foot canvas painted for Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery in 1786-7, now at Tate Britain. Four years residence in Rome two decades earlier gave the artist a deep admiration for Italian art, and his heroically scaled king recalls Michelangelo's Prophet Jeremiah from the Sistine Ceiling, while Kent's elegantly muscled form echoes Parmigianino. The setting includes chalk cliffs near Dover, mentioned in the play, and Druidic temples resembling Stonehenge. Setting aside the happy ending introduced by Naham Tate in 1681, an adaption that held the London stage through the early 19th century, Barry represents Shakespeare's original heartrending conception.

King Lear Weeping Over the Body of Cordelia (Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 5, Scene 3), Francis Legat (British, Edinburgh 1755–1809 London), Etching and engraving

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