Shakespeare Seated Between the Dramatic Muse and the Genius of Painting, Who is Pointing Him Out as the Proper Subject for Her Pencil
Not on view
This frontipiece to Boydell's 1797 edition of "Shakespeare's Works" reproduces a sculpture by Joseph Banks that adorned the facade of the Shakespeare Gallery on London's Pall Mall. The playwright sits between the Dramatic Muse, who lauds him with a lyre and laurel wreath, and an allegorical representation of Painting. Opened in 1788, the gallery eventually contained about 170 paintings of subjects from the plays painted by London artists. When Napoleon's naval blockade undercut British trade with Europe, Boydell lost crucial revenue and went bankrupt. After the gallery's contents were dispersed by lottery in 1805 the building was leased by the British Institution through 1867, then demolished. Banks's sculpture was moved in 1868 to the gardens at New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon (the site of a house owned by Shakespeare from 1597 and now part of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust).