Another piece of art from the Auckland Art Gallery I visited recently.

Painted by Henry Fuseli, Jean-Pierre Simon in 1791, titled Shakespeare: Tempest, Act I, Scene I.

Fuseli’s paintings for Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, which opened in London in 1786, proved enormously popular, and a number of engravers produced works from them. When living in Rome the artist had made numerous studies of Michelangelo’s figures in the Sistine Chapel, and the gesture of Prospero in this scene from the Tempest is a direct reference to the Creation of Adam. Mezzotint was particularly successful in depicting dramatic chiaroscuro effects; the darkness of Prospero’s cell contrasts with the light cast by Ariel’s flight, which in turn draws attention to Caliban’s grotesque face. (Monsters and Maidens, 2004)

I love old pieces like this. Imagine being a child in 1791 and gazing upon it. It would be pretty scary. Now days with all our technology for the movies, games etc, imagination can kind of take a bit of a back-burner in peoples minds. Imagining back to 1791, as a child, one may have viewed the image during the day, and reflected back upon it as our candle flickered the shadows in our cool room as we tried to get to sleep. I’m not suggesting that still does not happen, but its a little different…

No signature as I just took the image and cropped to fit (its not my art).


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