|Stipple and etching
|Jean-Pierre Simon after Henry Fuseli
|Painted by H. Fuseli, R.A. Engraved by I.P. Simon. Published. Sept. 29, 1797, by J & J Boydell, at the Shakespeare Gallery, Pall Mall, & No. 90 Cheapside, London [c.1852 impression]
|Image 445 x 590 mm, Pl. 500 x 635 mm
A nineteenth century printing of this large-scale illustration of Act 1, Scene 2 of The Tempest, after the painting by Henry Fuseli. The scene is set in a bower or cave upon the enchanted island. Prospero, leaning on a thin wand or switch, points at the grotesque Caliban and delivers an impassioned curse. Behind him stands his daughter Miranda, while in the background his magical familiar Ariel calms the tempest from which the play derives its name. A trio of sprites caper in Prospero's cloak, while other animals, including a lobster, a butterfly, a cat, and a monkey, look on.
Text below image reads: 'Pro. For this, be sure, to-night thou shalt have cramps, Side-stiches that shall pen thy breath up; urchins Shall, for that vast of night that they may work, All exercise on thee; thou shalt be pinch'd As thick as honey-combs, each pinch more stinging Than bees that made them.'
This print was one in a series published by the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, a project founded by the engraver, print-maker, and publisher, John Boydell. Boydell brought together many of Britain's most famous artists to work on the project, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, Henry Fuseli, and George Romney. The resurgent interest in Shakespeare during the late 18th century eventually inspired Boydell to publish a 'magnificent and accurate' illustrated edition of Shakespeare's works. Originally published in 1809, this printing is likely to be from an American edition of the series published in 1852.
John Boydell (1719 - 1804) was an English engraver, and one of the most influential printsellers of the Georgian period. At the age of twenty one, Boydell was apprenticed to the engraver William Henry Toms, and enrolled himself in the St. Martin's Lane Academy in order to study drawing. Given the funds raised by the sales of Boydell's Collection of One Hundred Views in England and Wales, 1755, he turned to the importation of foreign prints. Despite great success in this market his legacy is largely defined by The Shakespeare Gallery; a project that he initiated in 1786. In addition to the gallery, which was located in Pall Mall, Boydell released folios which illustrated the works of the Bard of Avon and were comprised of engravings after artists such as Henry Fuseli, Richard Westall, John Opie and Sir Joshua Reynolds. He is credited with changing the course of English painting by creating a market for historical and literary works. In honour of this, and his longstanding dedication to civil duties, Boydell became the Mayor of London in 1790.
Jean Pierre Simon (c.1750 - c.1810), often known as John Peter Simon, was an Anglo-French stipple engraver who worked predominantly as an engraver for the Boydells, reproducing paintings by Hamilton, Opie, Reynolds, and Fuseli.
Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) was an Anglo-Swiss painter, draughtsman, writer and collector of Old Master prints. He was classicallly educated and held a particular interest for literature which often extended into the themes of his work. Fuseli was encouraged by Sir Joshua Reynolds to paint, but was never academically, nor technically trained. He settled in England in 1779, and became the Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy twenty years later.
He made several contributions to Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery and opened a gallery dedicated to Milton in 1799.
Condition: Foxing to margins. Gilded edges. Minor chips and creases to edges of sheet.