Boydell Shakespeare Prints 1852

As You Like It, II, i Rosalind, Celia, Orlando, Duke BYD26 $275
Each print measures approximately 28 inches by 22 inches with the plate mark size measuring approximately 23 1/2 inches by 17 1/2 inches

John Boydell (1719-1804), visionary publisher & Lord Mayor of London, made his large fortune publishing engravings, including views of England & Wales. With a group of influential citizens, he embarked on a massive project utilizing the best English artists to capture the memorable scenes in Shakespeare’s works in a series of large paintings.

Those artists included J. M. W. Turner, William Blake, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Will Hamilton, Henry Fuseli, Josiah Boydell, Francis Wheatley, Angelica Kauffmann, and Benjamin West. In 1789, these paintings were showcased in a gallery on the most fashionable avenue in London, England, the Pall Mall.

Engravings from these paintings were first published in 1802, then working with the original plates, republished in 1852. This project marked a dramatic shift in the art world. Artists who had previously worked principally from the commissions of wealthy patrons and royalty now saw the possibility of earning a living in a less restrictive manner. Other entrepreneurs followed Boydell’s lead resulting in the development of a School of Historical Painters.

Sadly, the French Revolution intervened, closing off the mainland European market to Boydell who was forced to shutter his gallery. Almost bankrupted, Boydell’s estate sold the collection of 167 paintings in 1804, a few months after his death. Most have been lost to posterity, but Richard Westall's painting, from Henry VIII, remains in the collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

The lasting impact of Boydell’s project was to forever popularize Shakespeare’s works in the eyes of the general public and to change the course of English art, greatly broadening the artist’s ability to earn a living beyond portraiture and views.

Shearjashub Spooner (1809-1859) restored and published a two-volume set of Boydell’s plates in 1852 under the title The American edition of Boydell's Illustrations of the dramatic works of Shakespeare, by the most eminent artists of Great Britain. Spooner was a successful dentist in New York who acquired Boydell’s plates and sold the restored version for $100 for 100 plates. The edition is notable by its strong impressions and many of the rich details were enhanced by re-engraving the worn areas. Essentially, these are later states of the earlier prints, and include the plate numbers in the title area. The prints we are offering here are from this American edition.

Each print measures approximately 28 inches by 22 inches on heavy wove paper, with the image area at approximately 23 1/2 by 17 1/2 inches. The border is not fully shown in the images we have published. On some, this border may have minor imperfections which will easily mat out. These fabulous, high quality engravings rarely appear on the market, so we are delighted to offer them. Please email us if you do not see your favorite, as we do have the entire set.

We accept credit cards & PayPal. Washington state residents pay Washington state sales tax. Shipping for this item is $15.00 due to the large size of flat shipping. Items can be combined to save on postage. International shipping starts at $30 and buyers are responsible for all customs duties and fees. Our environment is smoke free. We pack professionally using only new materials. All items are beautifully wrapped and suitable for sending directly as gifts. You may return any item within 7 days if not satisfied. To order, you may call us at 1-888-PANTEEK, fax or email.


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