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Shakspeare, Measure for Measure. Act II, Scene I

1803, Engraving
Shakspeare, Measure for Measure. Act II, Scene I
Shakspeare, Measure for Measure. Act II, Scene I
Shakspeare, Measure for Measure. Act II, Scene I
Library Item
Item no
Shakspeare [Shakespeare]. Measure for Measure. Act II, Scene I
ELBOW: O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O thou wicked/Hannibal! I respected with her before I was married/ to her! If ever I was respected with her, or she/ with me, let not your worship think me the poor/ duke's officer.

A play set in Vienna, about restriction and bigotry, and the morals and virtues of human urges. Sins and sinners. These are typical themes for a Shakespearean drama, but perhaps are too heavy for a comedy so they need balancing out. Robert Smirke chose to depict the humorous side of the story with Act II Scene I. A comic relief with buffoonish characters illustrated with Sirke’s unique visual language that is recurring through these prints, since he is one of the most featured painters in the Boydell Project. He reflects on class by depicting the lower born as caricatures, against the idyllic nobles. On the left side of this engraving we can see the two lords amused by the commoners who are centred in the middle of the composition. Thus, the emphasis is on them and on the silly nature of their act, and of the ridiculous scene, which is about a cuckold husband, a constable at that, bringing forth his wife’s “attackers” (a pimp and a customer) to face justice.
Thomas Ryder & Charles Gauthier Playter
63.5 x 50.5 cm
Art and Design Library
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