Little known now except as a political cartoonist, Thomas Nast was a well-trained artist who also painted in oil, and he was a thorough devotee of Shakespeare. Henry Irving, the English actor, commissioned a painting, now lost, for which this one is a study.
The figures of Tragedy, knelling, and Comedy, standing in armor, sword in hand, are depicted in the room where Shakespeare was born. They offer laurel wreaths to his dramatically lit image, based on the bust of Shakespeare in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon.A version of the Stratford bust is centered on the wall of the Folger Old Reading Room.
Mr. Folger bought The Immortal Light of Genius in 1908 at a sale in New York of Nast's effects.
Other Exhibition Highlights
Paintings and Art Objects: | Fuseli's Macbeth Consulting the Vision of the Armed Head | Thomas Parr's John Philip Kemble as 'Hamlet' |
This page updated August 29, 2002