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Lost Art

Drawings by Henry Fuseli

Shakespeare for Kids

Henry Fuseli. Macbeth and the witches. Pencil, pen, and ink wash on paper, ca. 1790?

sThe Folger Shakespeare Library has over 50,000 drawings, paintings, photographs, and other works of art in its collection. In a collection this large, there can be surprising finds. A series of drawings by the famous artist Henry Fuseli was recently rediscovered in the Folger vaults. These three drawings were believed to be lost, but now, they are on display where visitors to the Folger can see them.


Fuseli enjoyed Shakespeare's plays and often used characters and scenes from Shakespeare as inspiration for his art.


The large drawing on this page shows a scene from Macbeth in which the Scottish warrior encounters three mysterious women on a dark and stormy night.


A second drawing includes characters from Shakespeare's comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. The third drawing was once through to show chracters from King Lear, and the drawing's title, Conceptual representation of King Lear, shows this. However, we now believe Fuseli's sketch is of three different people from three different scenes.


Look at the sketch. Can you tell who the three people are? Are they male or female? Young or old? What are they doing? 


Henry Fuseli. The Merry Wives of Windsor. Drawing, 1790

Henry Fuseli. Figure studies. Drawing, ca. 1805?

Henry Fuseli. Macbeth consulting the vision of the armed head. Oil on canvas, 1793.

Learn More

Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) was born in Switzerland but spent most of his life working in England. He was a very famous and influential artist who also taught many younger artists. Fuseli liked dramatic, emotional scenes, so Shakespeare's plays were a perfect place to find inspiration.  

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