Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Unabashed bardolatry: free Shakespearean image resources from the Folger Library

A delightful new online resource has been created by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C., which has opened up its visual archives to the public here. (This is the announcement of its free terms of use.) At left is The Folger's statue of Puck, the mischievous fairy from A Midsummer Night's Dream, by New York sculptor Brenda Putnam (1890–1975). She was the daughter of Herbert Putnam, the Librarian of Congress.
In addition to its priceless Shakespeare folios, quartos, manuscripts, scholarly books, and other resources on the Bard, "the world's largest and finest collection of Shakespeare materials" houses a beautiful recreation of an Elizabethan theater, in which plays and concerts are staged in an intimate fashion. (The American Shakespeare Center, in Staunton, Virginia, has a replica of the Blackfriars Playhouse, putting on classic plays by Shakespeare, his contemporaries, and successors.)
A Blackfriars production of Hamlet.
The Folger's Elizabethan theater.
 Below are a few samples of the newly available images from the Folger's collection.
Act IV, Scene 1: Titania: "Come set thee down upon this flowery bed"; a Currier & Ives lithograph.
Below, Falstaff and a portrait of the actor Edmund Kean.
Opera reminiscences,1829. Desdemona and Otello, dedicated to the admirers of William Shakespeare, by William Heath.
By Faustin, 1875
Romeo and Juliet, the tomb scene (Act 5, Scene 2); artist and date unknown.
A Pair of Spectacles, or, The London Stage in 1824–5, by Charles Williams (detail below).
The Seven Ages of Man, published by William Cole, early to mid-19th century (detail below). An illustration of Jacques' monologue in Act II, Scene VII of As You Like It.
All the world’s a stage,
        And all the men and women merely players;
        They have their exits and their entrances,
        And one man in his time plays many parts,                       
5      His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
        Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
        And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
        And shining morning face, creeping like snail
        Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,  
10    Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
        Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
        Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, 
        Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
        Seeking the bubble reputation
15    Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
        In fair round belly with good capon lined,
        With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, 
        Full of wise saws and modern instances;
        And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
20    Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
        With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
        His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
        For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
        Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
25    And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
        That ends this strange eventful history,
        Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
        Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Check out Daedalus Books' ever-changing and always available resources on the Bard here!
See more Daily Glean illustrated features on Shakespeare here.


  1. Terrific. Especially interesting: Falstaff looks like he should be in a Planet of the Apes version of the Bard, and Macbeth, with the rising sun behind him, could be a WW II anti-Japanese propaganda poster (in 1875!).

    Shakespeare, despite the passing centuries, seems to go on forever (and deservedly so, in my opinion). Recently I visited a Maine island opera house and saw that earlier this summer they had put on an original production that begins after Romeo and Juliet are dead, this one called Romeo & Juliet & Zombies.

    1. I so agree with you about the going on forever ... and the Macbeth. Today in the Wall Street Journal there was an article about dozens of drinking-game/audience participation productions of his plays that get people away from their tvs and out into public with each other .... back to the days of Shakespeare in taverns, inns, and open-air Renaissance theaters.

  2. The Currier & Ives lithograph of A Midsummer Nights Dream is so whimsical and lovely. Where can I find a copy of it?

    1. If you follow the links to the Folger you could search and see if they have a high enough resolution image to print (or use the search words in the caption in google image). An actual print would be something else again!

  3. The illustration of a pair of spectacles refers to Edmond Keane who had saved the Durry Lane theater form bankruptcy but who in turn was sued by the husband of Charlotte Cox, an Alderman for what was basically adultery. The husband won his case in less than 10 minutes and the award was 800 pounds a huge amount of money. Actors behaving badly even then was news worthy, the talk of all of London and quite the spectacal in the long run

  4. Westminster Abbey, in London's Parliament Square, may perhaps be best known to help holidaymakers for the reason that website associated with royal coronations, funerals, and the closing resting host to the majority of England's queens and also politics management. An incredible level of historical past is found at that. Consecrated, to Shakespeare