Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Watercolour - View of the interior of the Shakespeare Gallery
  • View of the interior of the Shakespeare Gallery
    Wheatley, Francis RA, born 1747 - died 1801
  • Enlarge image

View of the interior of the Shakespeare Gallery

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1790 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wheatley, Francis RA, born 1747 - died 1801 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by William Smith

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case 17, shelf DR6

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).

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.

Physical description

View of the interior of the Shakespeare Gallery

Place of Origin

Britain (made)


1790 (made)


Wheatley, Francis RA, born 1747 - died 1801 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on paper


Height: 45 cm paper, Width: 61.7 cm paper

Object history note

By Francis Wheatley RA (born in London, 1747, died there in 1801)

Descriptive line

Watercolour by Francis Wheatley entitled 'View of the interior of the Shakespeare Gallery'. Great Britain, 1790.

Labels and date

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]






Paintings; Royalty; Shakespeare


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.