- Museum number
Study for the picture of Shakespeare's 'Tempest', Act 1, Scene 1, for Boydell's 'Shakespeare Gallery'; the ship, with crew and passengers in confusion, Ferdinand at left with arms raised about to leap overboard, at right Prospero and Miranda hidden by a cloud
Brush drawing in grey wash, with pen and grey ink and graphite
- Production date
Height: 318 millimetres
Width: 469 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- See A. Crookshank, 'The Drawings of George Romney' Burlington Magazine, xcix (Feb 1957) & Lady Hamilton Exhibition, Kenwood. Also see Hammelmann and Boase, 'Illustrators in Eighteenth Century England', p.66 and P.Jaffe, 'Drawings by George Romney', Fitzwilliam Museum 1977.
According to Ward and Roberts' catalogue raisonné of the works of George Romney (see pp. 193-198), Shakespeare was one of the few authors who appealed to the 'unlettered' George Romney. Due to the high volume of sketches related to Shakespeare in the Romney sale of 1807, it can be assumed that this was a subject that had long fascinated Romney throughout his career. Opportunity to fully express this enthusiasm arose in 1787, with Boydell's proposal of creating a gallery dedicated to illustrations by British artists of Shakespeare's works. The gallery would celebrate the playwright, British artists and in particular the historical painting genre.
Romney was paid £600 for the works executed, a significant amount less than his contemporaries who were also involved in Boydell's project. Romney also generously donated 'The Infant Shakespeare attended by the Passions' (see 1937,1008.10, for a sketch thought to be a preparatory work for the painting of 'The Infant Shakespeare'). Romney was not actually paid for his contribution of illustrations to Boydell until some years later and was deeply frustrated by the waste of valuable time, money and the failure of the project itself.
See ODNB entry for John Boydell (1720-1804), for more information regarding the project that the Boydell brothers undertook to illustrate the works of Shakespeare, the artists involved and the consequences of the project.
Also see Ward & Roberts, 'Romney: A Biographical and Critical Essay of his works and catalogue of his works', (1904), pp. 193-198. Also see Bolletino, Scenes iv, 1962, 369.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1957 P&D, 'William Blake and his circle', no.68(3)
- Associated titles
Associated Title: The Tempest
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number