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Marketing Shakespeare
About the Exhibition

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Marketing Shakespeare

The Boydell Gallery (1789-1805) and Beyond

Curators: Ann R. Hawkins, Georgianna Ziegler


To enter London’s fashionable Shakspeare Gallery, visitors would have passed under a sculpture depicting William Shakespeare flanked by the Dramatic Muse and the Genius of Painting. Visitors entered a space designed to display—and sell—scenes from Shakespeare illustrated by the most famous painters of the day. After visiting the Gallery, well-to-do patrons might have subscribed to Boydell’s National Edition, an illustrated scholarly edition of Shakespeare’s work. Or visitors mayhave purchased an engraving of their favorite Shakespearean scene.


John Boydell. Pictures painted for the purpose of illustrating the dramatic works of Shakspeare. London, 1803

The Gallery’s founder, John Boydell (1719-1804) , made his fortune by providing engraved prints from famous collections of art, then selling the prints in England and abroad. A savvy salesman, successful politician, and well-known patron of the arts, Boydell, determined late in life to foster the improvement of British history painting. Boydell commissioned the best artists to create works inspired by scenes in Shakespeare and designed a gallery to display the paintings. He also published engravings of the paintings as illustrated to his Shakespeare edition. The financial cost to Boydell’s firm was enormous. This exhibition chronicles the development of the Shakespeare Gallery—Boydell’s most famous and influential commercial endeavor—a venture that existed at the junction of book and canvas, commerce and art.


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  Additional Information

Dates & Times:

September 20, 2007-

January 5, 2008


and one hour before performances and at intermission




Monday-Friday, 11am

Saturday, 11am & 1pm


Wednesday, 6:30pm

before the evening performance




Great Hall


Questions? Comments?

Contact us at exhibitions@folger.edu

This Way to The Bard

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