- Museum number
Design for a title vignette for Boydell's 'Shakespeare'; two masks and musical instruments within an oval, with another similar design below
- Production date
Height: 198 millimetres
Width: 165 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- 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', Series iv, 1962, 369.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
Agnews purchased 1937-10-8-9 to 11 in Christie's sale 12.vii.37, lot 37.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number