The Folger has a robust, diverse art collection in which many media and time periods are well represented. Only part of the Folger art collection is directly related to Shakespeare and his works, but those materials have been called the world’s finest collection of Shakespearean art. Erin Blake is Curator of Art at the Folger.
Some 200 paintings include works by Henry Fuseli, Benjamin West, George Romney, and Thomas Nast, as well as such Elizabethan artists as George Gower and Nicholas Hilliard. Works on paper include approximately 50,000 prints, watercolors, drawings, and photographs, among them large collections of sketches by George Romney, prints by Wenceslaus Hollar, and an important set of Jacobean watercolors.
In addition to its outdoor sculptures and exterior bas-reliefs, the Folger houses sculptures by Louis François Roubiliac, Alice Morgan Wright, and others. Its collection of objets d’art includes the Babette Craven Collection of Theatrical Memorabilia, one of the strongest post-war collections of early English porcelains. The period atmosphere of the Library building is enhanced by fine examples of Tudor and Stuart furniture and, in the Old Reading Room, by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century French and Flemish tapestries.
Due in no small part to the expansive sweep of Henry and Emily Folger’s original collecting, the Folger also holds (among many other items) dozens of costumes and props used in nineteenth-century Shakespeare productions; many sets of “extra-illustrated” books filled with inserted engravings, manuscript letters, and playbills associated with particular actors or productions; and a great variety of souvenirs, comic books, and other ephemera associated with Shakespeare and his works.
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