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After Francis Wheatley, The Taming of The Shrew

After Francis Wheatley, The Taming of The Shrew

£3,800

Circa 1800 England

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Height 26 1/2 inches (67.31 cm)
Width 32 inches (81.28 cm)
Depth 3 inches (7.62 cm)

After Francis Wheatley, circa 1800

The Taming of the Shrew

Oil on canvas; held in a period style frame. Dimensions refer to size of frame

Artists and patrons in the eighteenth century responded to and encouraged the assertion of Shakespeare as Britain’s foremost national playwright. Through the remarkable efforts of David Garrick, the actor and Drury Lane theater manager, the plays flourished on the stage, while the promotion of the playwright as the “immortal bard” was seized as an opportunity to foster a British school of history painting.

Combining commerce and connoisseurship, entrepreneurial publishers like John “Alderman” Boydell and James Woodmason commissioned works such as a scene from Twelfth Night by Johann Heinrich Ramberg, and Francis Wheatley’s scene from The Two Gentlemen of Verona, respectively, creating what amounted to a new genre: the Shakespearean conversation piece. Strategies of representation included the depiction of famous actors and actresses in favored roles, such as Benjamin van der Gucht’s portrait of actor Henry Woodward in the role of Petruchio in David Garrick’s adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew, and James Northcote’s portrait of the child actor William Henry West Betty in the role of Hamlet.

Such was the popularity of these paintings and others like them, the engravings that were produced sold enthusiastically thus inspiring and influencing thousands. Francis Wheatley’s original picture of the Taming of the Shrew was exhibited in 1789 with the engraving reaching a wider audience in 1795. This painting presented here dates to around this period and is a confident and skilled version.

The scene is from Act II scene II - ‘Baptista’s house. Petruchio, Katherine, Bianca, &c.’

Pet. But for my bonny Kate, she must with me, / Nay, look not big, nor stamp, nor stare, nor fret: / I will be master of what is mine own; / She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house, / My household-stuff, my field, my barn, / My horse, my ox, my ass, my any thing; / And here she stands, touch her whoever dare: / I’ll bring my action on the proudest he / That stops my way in Padua. Grumio, / Draw forth they weapon, we’re beset with thieves; / Rescue thy mistress, if thou be a man: / Fear not, sweet wench, they shall not touch thee Kate; / I’ll buckler thee against a million.

Reference 1396

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