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John Boydell

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Image of Taming of the Shrew, Act 4, Scene 5

John Boydell
English, 1719–1804
Josiah Boydell (aka Joshua Boydell)
English, 1752–1817
Isaac Taylor II (aka Isaac Taylor the younger)
English, 1759–1829
after Julius Caesar Ibbetson
English, 1759–1817

Taming of the Shrew, Act 4, Scene 5

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

Object Type: Print
10 1/2 x 6 11/16 in. (27 x 42 cm)
Medium and Support: Engraving on paper
Accession Number: 2016.0008.0006

Credit Line: Gift of Francis Drexel Smith, by exchange

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:
Throughout his career, Shakespeare often got dramatic punch from men and women vying for dominance, especially in [Taming of the Shrew], a play so full of disguises the quest is for genuine identity.

After a quick patriarchal agreement, a tempestuous meeting, wild wedding, and enduring a week of food- and sleep-deprivation battling for authority, the newlyweds return to Padua. Yet Shrew’s 4.5, the “sun/moon scene,” may re-define this marriage of “untamable” Kate and “indomitable” Petruchio. Despite Petruchio’s having just demolished her new gown, Kate is composed and alert. Petruchio uses a controlling hand here as he again tests her, calling the sun “the moon.”

For the first time, either from PTSD or now recognizing the game, Kate agrees, and he keeps testing. When asked to greet a passing gentleman as a female, she lays it on so thickly that on stage the couple often burst into laughter, becoming a dynamic duo at last.
-Susan Willis, dramaturg, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, September 28, 2020

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