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John Boydell

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Image of Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 5

John Boydell
English, 1719–1804
Josiah Boydell (aka Joshua Boydell)
English, 1752–1817
James Stow
English, about 1770–after 1820
after John Francis Rigaud
French, 1742–1810

Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 5

about 1804
From Boydell's Graphic Illustrations of the Dramatic Works of Shakespeare

Object Type: Print
10 9/16 x 6 1/2 in. (27 x 17 cm)
Medium and Support: Engraving on paper
Accession Number: 2016.0009.0001

Credit Line: Gift of Thomas L. Phillips in memory of his grandfather, Alabama State Senator J. T. Phillips

In 1786, a successful London publisher, alderman John Boydell, conceived of a gallery of art devoted to scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. Named for its founder, the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery was one of the first large-scale commercial endeavors intended to promote British literature and artists both in Great Britain as well as throughout the European continent. He commissioned over 167 paintings of scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and produced engravings based on these paintings. In creating the engravings, John Boydell partnered with his son, Josiah, whose name appears after his father’s in the list above. The third name is that of the engraver, and the fourth is that of the painter who created the original composition in oils. The role of the engraver was to transfer the painter’s composition onto plates for printing.

About this scene:
[Shakespeare's] comically twisted dream of true love turns to tragic nightmare in Romeo and Juliet as the Capulet/Montague feud rekindles before the young lovers even meet or ignite their passion. Their first balcony scene enflames and pledges their eternal love in a promised secret wedding, while their second balcony scene, shown here, ends their banishment-haunted wedding night in a dawn of separation.

Romeo radiates love, while Juliet suddenly senses disaster. In fact, this farewell is eternal; never again will they see each other alive. The play’s events spiral into ill-timed tragedy for lovers and families alike, accelerated by the event the entering Nurse warns of, Lady Capulet’s arrival to announce that in two days her father will marry Juliet to Paris. We will reprise this lovers’ embrace only in the tomb.
-Susan Willis, dramaturg, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, September 28, 2020

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