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Embroidered picture - Fame at the tomb of Shakespeare
  • Fame at the tomb of Shakespeare
    Bartolozzi, Francesco
  • Enlarge image

Fame at the tomb of Shakespeare

  • Object:

    Embroidered picture

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1782-1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bartolozzi, Francesco (R.A.), born 1727 - died 1815 (printmaker)
    Kauffman, Angelica, born 1741 - died 1807 (painter (artist))
    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered and painted silk, worked in feather stitch

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case 15

Object Type
This embroidered picture was copied from a print published in 1782, which was based on a drawing by the Swiss portrait painter and decorative artist Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807), who worked in London from the later 1760s to 1781. As the print was published in black and white, the embroiderer was free to choose her colours and stitches, and so demonstrate both her taste and skill. The picture may have been part of a decorative scheme (perhaps including other designs by Kauffmann) on walls, furniture or porcelain. Her designs had more widespread and diverse uses than those of any other decorative painter of the period.

Materials and Making
This style of embroidered picture was almost always worked in coloured silks on a white satin ground, with the design, taken from an engraving, sketched onto the background. The finer details of the figures, particularly the faces and hands, were painted directly onto the satin.

Subjects Depicted
The subject of the picture was intended both as tribute to Shakespeare's literary fame and as a fashionable expression of romantic sorrow. It was the first of various memorial subjects for embroideries in Britain, another popular one being the scene of Charlotte mourning over the grave of Werther, from the German poet Goethe's The Trials of Young Werther (first published in 1774). It may have been the original inspiration behind the memorial embroideries which became enormously popular in the USA, particularly after the death of George Washington in 1799.

Physical description

Embroidered and painted silk picture showing Fame placing a wreath on Shakespeare's tomb

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1782-1800 (made)


Bartolozzi, Francesco (R.A.), born 1727 - died 1815 (printmaker)
Kauffman, Angelica, born 1741 - died 1807 (painter (artist))
Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered and painted silk, worked in feather stitch


Height: 44.5 cm, Width: 39.5 cm

Object history note

Copied from a print by Francesco Bartolozzi (born in Florence, Italy, 1727, died in Lisbon, 1815), based on a painting by Angelica Kauffmann (born in Chur, Switzerland, 1741, died in Rome, 1807)

Descriptive line

Embroidered picture depicting Fame at the tomb of Shakespeare

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This type of embroidered picture, usually copied from prints, was made to demonstrate a girl's accomplishment in needlework. The face and other fine details were painted in. Literary and theatrical subjects painted by Angelica Kauffmann were popular as models and this design of 'Fame scattering flowers on Shakespeare's Tomb' was one of the most frequently copied. [27/03/2003]






Embroidery; Death; Textiles


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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