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Painting Shakespeare

Painting Shakespeare
The Artist as Critic, 1720–1820

Out of Print

  • Date Published: March 2006
  • availability: Unavailable - out of print November 2017
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521853088

Out of Print

Unavailable - out of print November 2017
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About the Authors
  • Painting Shakespeare explores the tradition of critical and interpretive painting and engraving that developed when eighteenth-century artists rejected the depiction of Shakespeare's plays in performance to produce images based on the new scholarly editions. The opening chapter locates Shakespeare painting alongside contemporary performance, editing and criticism, and discusses its relation to art history and practice. The book proceeds to examine Hogarth's use of ironic allusion, and the development of this and other techniques of critical visualisation by artists of the succeeding decades. Later chapters discuss the arcane allusions and supernatural visions of Fuseli, the gestural immediacy of Romney, the fluid, critical mythologising of Blake, and the compound subtleties of Reynolds. The book concludes with a study of the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery and the radically new reading practices it constituted.

    • Richly illustrated, with over a hundred pictures including a colour plate section
    • Examines eighteenth-century paintings and engravings as critical statements about Shakespeare's plays
    • Offers a critical history of Shakespeare painting in its richest period, to balance histories of performance and criticism
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "… artists may be critics, but they do not speak for themselves; Stuart Sillars gives them some extremely interesting language."
    -Times Literary Supplement

    "…a scholarly and thorough account … wisely acknowledging both the vastness of the subject and the important work already done in this area. Sillars negotiates the difficulties of drawing together many threads of research well … makes for an engaging and compelling read … the author's passion for his subject is most apparent and he is at his most engaging. Sillars' readings are both sympathetic and sensitive, displaying a wealth of knowledge and depth of research."
    -Shakespeare Bookshop Newsletter

    "Anyone at all interested in this important aspect of Shakespeare studies will find the book immensely valuable and, indeed, an incentive for further research."
    -Jay Halio, Shakespeare Newsletter

    "… undoubtedly the best sustained piece of scholarly work to date on eighteenth-century ad Romantic uses of Shakespeare in the visual arts."
    -Michael Dobson, Shakespeare Quarterly

    "This fascinating study gives inexhaustible hints and a fresh impetus to modern readers and theatre-goers for understanding Shakespeare more deeply in wider contexts of art and literature. The book undoubtedly deserves its unique place in art history and Shakespeare studies."
    -Shakespeare Studies

    "Sillars masterfully demonstrates how some painters did produce powerful readings of Shakespeare’s oeuvre: illuminating its meaning and refreshing their own pictorial practice...a powerful reminder of the various uses, aesthetic as well political, to which Shakespeare was put during the Enlightenment and the Romantic age..."
    -Samuel Baudry, Cercles

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2006
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521853088
    • length: 356 pages
    • dimensions: 253 x 197 x 26 mm
    • weight: 1.232kg
    • contains: 100 b/w illus. 16 colour illus.
    • availability: Unavailable - out of print November 2017
  • Table of Contents

    List of colour plates
    List of illustrations
    1. Placing Shakespeare painting
    2. Play, iconography and social discourse in Hogarth's Shakespeare
    3. Landscape, readership and convention, 1740–90
    4. Fuseli and the uses of iconography
    5. George Romney: meditations of a volatile fancy
    6. 'Shakespeare in riper years gave me his hand': William Blake
    7. 'General ideas and the familiar pathetic': neo-classical Shakespeare and Joshua Reynolds
    8. Fuseli, nature and supernature
    9. Boydell, criticism and appropriation
    10. Summations and departures
    Select bibliography.

  • Author

    Stuart Sillars, Universitetet i Bergen, Norway
    Currently Professor of English at the University of Bergen, Stuart Sillars was previously a member of the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge, and has been a visiting professor at universities in Texas, Washington and Croatia. He has written extensively on the relationship between literature and the visual arts, with books including Art and Survival in First World War Britain (1987) and British Romantic Art and the Second World War (1991), and has had many articles and reviews published in major journals in the UK, Europe and the USA.

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