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Extending the Book
George C. George

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George C. George

George C. George, from Penryn, Cornwall, assembled two large extra-illustrated Shakespeares at some time in the early nineteenth century. One uses the edition illustrated by James Heath; the other uses the Boydell-Steevens “National” Edition. Both sets assemble prints, original watercolors, diagrams, and elaborate notes in George’s own fine handwriting, along with copies of paintings from the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery. Since many of the Boydell paintings are now lost, the watercolors provide the only indication of their coloring, revealing the archival value of extra-illustrated editions. That the watercolors were bound and not framed has contributed much to their survival: not being exposed to air or sunlight, they still retain their original brightness.

Shakespeare. Plays of Shakespeare. London, 1807

As well as a great number of engravings and other prints, the second of George C. George’s two editions contains further original watercolors. Most notable is a series of 113 designs by the Swiss artist Samuel Hieronymous Grimm (1733–94). These are most probably designs for a projected illustrated edition of which no details survive. The volumes also include original watercolors signed “Geo. Webbe,” an amateur artist about whom little is known. The volumes reveal important new ways of presenting Shakespeare in visual terms, showing the historical value of extra-illustration at its highest.


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Shakespeare. The Plays of William Shakespeare. London, 1807

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