Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries

View of the interior of the Shakespeare Gallery

Watercolour
1790 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
In the hands of a skilled artist, watercolours were a rapid and accurate way of recording important occasions. Here Francis Wheatley (1747-1801) has set down his version of what was an important event for him. John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery is filled with the rich and famous, including George III's sons Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany (1763-1827), and William, Duke of Clarence (1765-1837); the famous portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Boydell himself, and the political hostess Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806).

People
Francis Wheatley's most famous series of paintings was the still popular Cries of London. Prints made after them are still reproduced and sold. Wheatley worked for the printmaker and print seller John Boydell (1719-1804) , later Alderman Boydell, Mayor of London. Boydell's most ambitious project was the 'Shakespeare Gallery', which was first proposed in 1786. He commissioned a series of oil paintings representing scenes from the plays of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), a collection of engravings after the paintings and a new edition of Shakespeare's plays, which were published in 1802. The plays were edited by George Steevens (1736-1800), also with accompanying engravings. The Gallery opened at 52 Pall Mall, London, on 4 May 1789 with 34 paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Benjamin West (1738-1820), Francis Wheatley (1747-1801), Henry Fuseli (1741-1825), Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797), James Northcote (1746-1831) and others. Critics gave the project a mixed reception. Subscribers to the prints became displeased with the long delays, and the stipple printmaking technique (in which stippled flicks and dots create an illusion of planes and contours) was not of high enough quality to silence the complaints. The outbreak of war with France in 1793 destroyed Boydell's hopes of expanding his export market.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour on paper
Brief Description
Watercolour by Francis Wheatley entitled 'View of the interior of the Shakespeare Gallery'. Great Britain, 1790.
Physical Description
View of the interior of the Shakespeare Gallery
Dimensions
  • Paper height: 45cm
  • Paper width: 61.7cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 06/05/1999 by KN Paper size of accompanying pen and ink label is 8.5 x 17. Currently this is half-obscured by the watercolour.
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Wheatley's view shows Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall visited by the Prince of Wales and a fashionably dressed crowd. The large paintings of scenes from Shakespeare's plays were hung close together, in the manner of the Royal Academy, though Boydell's main intention was to sell sets of the prints.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by William Smith
Object history
By Francis Wheatley RA (born in London, 1747, died there in 1801)
Summary
Object Type
In the hands of a skilled artist, watercolours were a rapid and accurate way of recording important occasions. Here Francis Wheatley (1747-1801) has set down his version of what was an important event for him. John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery is filled with the rich and famous, including George III's sons Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany (1763-1827), and William, Duke of Clarence (1765-1837); the famous portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Boydell himself, and the political hostess Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806).

People
Francis Wheatley's most famous series of paintings was the still popular Cries of London. Prints made after them are still reproduced and sold. Wheatley worked for the printmaker and print seller John Boydell (1719-1804) , later Alderman Boydell, Mayor of London. Boydell's most ambitious project was the 'Shakespeare Gallery', which was first proposed in 1786. He commissioned a series of oil paintings representing scenes from the plays of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), a collection of engravings after the paintings and a new edition of Shakespeare's plays, which were published in 1802. The plays were edited by George Steevens (1736-1800), also with accompanying engravings. The Gallery opened at 52 Pall Mall, London, on 4 May 1789 with 34 paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Benjamin West (1738-1820), Francis Wheatley (1747-1801), Henry Fuseli (1741-1825), Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797), James Northcote (1746-1831) and others. Critics gave the project a mixed reception. Subscribers to the prints became displeased with the long delays, and the stipple printmaking technique (in which stippled flicks and dots create an illusion of planes and contours) was not of high enough quality to silence the complaints. The outbreak of war with France in 1793 destroyed Boydell's hopes of expanding his export market.
Collection
Accession Number
1719-1871

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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