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LOST HAMLET PAINTING COPIED FROM FUSELI A Platform before the Castle of Elsinore: Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus, and the Ghost

[Henry Fuseli - Johann Heinrich Füssli] William Shakespeare
Early nineteenth century oil-painted copy of Fuseli’s lost 1789 painting depicting the ghost of Hamlet's father beckoning away his son to hear th… Read more
Published in 1830 by N/A.
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LOST HAMLET PAINTING COPIED FROM FUSELI A Platform before the Castle of Elsinore: Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus, and the Ghost by [Henry Fuseli - Johann Heinrich Füssli] William Shakespeare

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Early nineteenth century oil-painted copy of Fuseli’s lost 1789 painting depicting the ghost of Hamlet's father beckoning away his son to hear the terrible story of his death.

Oil on wooden panel, 44.5x57.5cm, label to verso from its appearance at the 1969 Zurich Fuseli exhibition, wood repair to verso reinforcing a vertical split in the wood which rises 12cm from the base of the image, just visible in the painting itself. The panel is mounted in a heavy period frame with modern retainers holding the work in place. A striking work of art that illustrates a thrilling moment in Shakespeare’s play as the ghost of Hamlet’s father beckons his son away to tell the story of his murder at the hands of his uncle Claudius - even as Hamlet’s friend Horatio attempts to restrain the anguished young Prince. Fuseli’s original (and larger) painting entered the Earle Collection in Liverpool for a long time until it was auctioned on 17/18 April 1839 and disappeared from view. Provenance: this copy appeared in the Fuseli exhibition at the Kunsthaus Zurich, May 7 - July 6, 1969, catalog no.14 - confirmed to a previous owner by a letter from the director of the Kunsthaus Zurich, Dr. Christoph Becker, October 20, 2016. Most recently the pictures has been in a private collection in northern Germany. One other reduced copy is known through Gert Schiff’s Catalogue of Fuseli’s works - Œuvre catalog Johann Heinrich Füssli, Zurich / Munich 1973, nos. 731 and 732. The current location of Fuseli’s original is unknown.

As a teenager, Fuseli (1741-1825) was already enthusiastic about the dramatic works of William Shakespeare and the supernatural; when John Boydell asked him in 1786 to design some paintings for his Shakespeare gallery this stirring scene from Hamlet Act I, Scene IV was an obvious fit for his talents. The original painting appeared alongside works by Joshua Reynolds and Angelika Kauffmann in the Boydells Shakespeare Gallery at No 52, Pall Mall. With its combination of supernatural and Shakespearean subject matter it has become one of Fuseli’s best known images through Robert Thew’s stipple engraving which was published at the same time by the Boydells. This copy in oils conforms broadly with Thew’s image though differing in matters of detail such as the angle of Hamlet’s head, the length of Horatio’s hair etc.

An original and eccentric artists of the 18th century, the Swiss-born Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) spent most of his career in London, where he courted notoriety with his most famous painting The Nightmare and other sensational images inspired by literature and his own imagination - a category into which this painting neatly fits. His depiction of women is the subject of a new exhibition just opened this month at the Courtauld Gallery in London which will in due course move on to the Kunsthaus Zurich.




Full details

Added under Painting
Publisher N/A
Date published 1830
Subject 1 Painting
Product code 7653


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