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Shakespeare at Georgetown
Shakespeare at Georgetown includes fine art, rare books, and archival documents from the Georgetown University Library, and is represented in conjunction with the “Shakespeare in Washington” festival being held at more than sixty arts organizations in the nation's capital through June 2007.
Shakespeare at Georgetown features fine prints of characters and scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets by noted artists such as Isac Friedlander (1890-1968), Kyra Markham (1891-1967), Chester Leich (1889-1988), Mino Maccari (1898-1989), Sepp Frank (1889-1970), Paul Peter Piech (1920-1996), and Washington’s Kathleen Spagnolo (b. 1919). Shakespeare at Georgetown displays some of the rare and handsomely illustrated editions of Shakespeare in the Georgetown University Library, from 1723 through the twentieth century. Shakespeare at Georgetown documents the history of Shakespearean presentations on the Georgetown University campus, from rare 1850s playbills, to posters of student productions throughout the years, to documentary photographs from the 1920s through 1980s, and more. Also shown in Shakespeare at Georgetown are examples of Shakespeare’s influence on the popular culture and the decorative arts.
The last exhibition in the Fairchild Gallery with the theme of William Shakespeare was Histories and Tragedies from the Boydell Shakespeare Folio in 2004. Shakespeare at Georgetown gives an expanded opportunity for viewers to see the rich Shakespeare holdings in the Georgetown University Library's Special Collections Division.
Playwright, actor, and theatre manager William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, England, in April 1564. Most of his professional career was in London. He died in Stratford-upon-Avon on 23 April 1616.
The Georgetown University Archives houses approximately twenty linear feet of records relating to drama at Georgetown, including posters, photographs, programs, scripts and videos. The earliest drama records date back to 1853.
The tradition of drama at Georgetown University, dating back to its earliest years, was an integral part of the Jesuit educational program, along with rhetoric and oratory. The Jesuits believed strongly in cultivating the skill of public speaking, and these exercises also were a way to involve the public, both didactically and as a community service. The annual commencement exercises, held in mid-July, provided a grand occasion at which the students could exhibit their talents. This elaborate event drew hundreds of guests, including dignitaries from church and government and the diplomatic arena, residents of Washington and the surrounding area from Frederick, Maryland, to Philadelphia. The elaborate, four-hour festivities included musical selections, speeches, plays and recitations. The commencement exercises of 1821, as seen in this program, began with the first act from Julius Caesar. The University Archives also preserves the program of The Minor Literary Exhibition, performed by the younger gentlemen at Georgetown (school-age boys, before the prep school was formed) the previous February, which began with "A Discussion, whether Julius Caesar was slain justly or unjustly." There were two groups of boys debating the issue, with two in favor of his assassination and three opposed.
Mention of dramatic performances at Georgetown University can be found in the University Archives as early as the 1790s. The Dramatic Association of Georgetown was formed in 1853, and this case represents those earliest programs presenting the works of Shakespeare. Among the names listed are James Ryder Randall (COL 1848-56), author of Maryland, My Maryland, and Hugh J. Gaston (COL 1848-55), grandson of Georgetown College's first student, William Gaston. As indicated in the pencil notation on the Richard II program for February 27, 1854, and corroborated by contemporary accounts, it was attended by the great American actor Edwin Forrest (1806-72), who had just performed the role of Hamlet at the National Theater in downtown Washington (February 6-12, 1854). This was believed to be the first performance of Richard II on any American stage.
The Dramatics Association at Georgetown disbanded following the Civil War and was reorganized later in 1898. During this hiatus, there arose the jubilant custom of celebrating Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi-Gras. As explained in the 1901 Domesday Book, "On the Tuesday preceding the beginning of Lent some exhibition of talent was given. These performances were usually farces or of the minstrel variety. After the performance the spectators and actors adjourned to the refectory, where a 'feast' was served. Following the banquet a masked ball was generally held." Of the programs displayed here, the Mardi-Gras celebration of 1880 included scenes from Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, and Richard III. In the year 1884, King John was performed, followed by a farce entitled Slasher and Crasher. At the 1888 festivities, scene I from King John was performed. We call the viewer's attention to the 1861 program of the "CONTRABANDS of Georgetown College," in which the students produced a clever parody on Hamlet entitled GIMLET, DUNCE OF PENMARK, with fanciful interpolations of the characters' names, such as Funniman, Voracio, and Leatherlungs.
The artfully designed cover of the 1891 Mardi-Gras production, at which scenes from The Merchant of Venice was performed, is the work of James Stanislaus Easby-Smith (A.B. 1891, A.M. 1892), an important alumnus who received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Georgetown in 1920, and who served as a colonel in World War I. At the time he created this program cover he was editor-in-chief of the Georgetown College Journal, and recently had been elected President of the Yard (the athletic organization on campus). Easby-Smith went on to teach Law at Georgetown and published scholarly books in Greek. The role of Gratiano in this Mardi-Gras production was performed by Richard T. Merrick, Jr., whose father had established the distinguished Merrick Debate Medal of the Philodemic Society in 1874. Mardi-Gras performance of 1893: scenes from Henry IV and Love's Labour's Lost Grand Variety Performance of 1893: a scene from The Merchant of Venice
This production marked the first anniversary of the reorganization of the Dramatic Association, which had been disbanded after the Civil War. The performance of Henry IV was hailed in The Washington Post as "the best of its kind ever produced in the theatrical history of the college." The critic also praised the antics of Falstaff, played by Mr. C. M. Barry:
His corpulency, the large leathern belt that surrounded it, the short sword, and his ponderous brass shield kept the audience in continual laughter. His acting, however, was marred by an unfortunate occurrence. Near the end of scene 3, act II, ... he dropped a pillow with which he was padded. Only the thorough training that the students had received prevented it from resulting disastrously.
This poster and the accompanying photographic album document the first production of the Classical Theater group, founded by Georgetown University's professor of English Raymond H. Reno to fulfill what he saw as a dearth of classical plays being performed on campus. Reno (1924-2006) innovated a new teaching method that emphasized experiencing the works of Shakespeare and others as plays rather than a more literary approach, in an effort to "take the words off the page and onto the stage," as explained in his Washington Post obituary. An actor himself, Reno also appeared in several of the productions, performing the roles of Lear, Macbeth, and Mark Antony, represented here in the adjacent display cases. The album, with twenty-four tipped-in photographs by David Scherbel, is one of three such albums that he produced to commemorate the performance. It was donated by Nicholas B. Scheetz (COL'74), who had studied with Reno and who also directed this production of King Lear.
The posters displayed on this wall document some of the memorable Shakespearean productions at Georgetown between 1966 and 1989. We have included Cole Porter's popular musical, Kiss Me, Kate, which is known to be inspired by Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.
Georgetown University's Mask and Bauble Society, which traces its origins to the founding of the Dramatic Association in the early 1850s, can claim to be the oldest continuously running college theatre group in the United States. Mask and Bauble produces five shows a year, conducting auditions approximately six weeks before each performance. Its season traditionally includes musicals, dramas, comedies, and classics. In the spring, Mask and Bauble also produces the annual Donn B. Murphy One-Act Play Competition and Festival, in which student-written plays are submitted, judged, and produced.
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In addition to this facsimile edition, Lauinger Library owns an original Shakespeare "First Folio," purchased from the Dahlgren estate in 1964, which was included in the Special Collections exhibition Treasures of Lauinger Library, in the Gunlocke Reading Room from November 2000 to January 2001. The frontispiece engraving by Martin Droeshout the Younger (1601- after 1639) is regarded as one of the few reliable and authentic likenesses of the author. The engraving probably was commissioned by Shakespeare's friends and fellow actors John Hemminges and Henry Condell, who had assembled his works to be published in the "First Folio."
The Latvian-born Isac Friedlander had a troubled adolescence under the repressive Russian regime. Arrested for what were seen as anti-czarist political activities, he served four years' imprisonment for suspicion of murder, but the three classmates arrested with him were executed. (They only had been protesting compulsory uniforms and weekend curfews.) After his release, Friedlander traveled to Italy, where he had his only formal art training at the Academy in Rome. In the 1930s, with the help of his cousin Joseph Hirshhorn, Friedlander emigrated to Canada, where he met and married his second wife, Gilda Barondess. They soon relocated to New York, where Friedlander became a respected and successful artist and print maker, working primarily in etching and woodcut.
Titania (Act II, scene 2) from A Midsummer-Night's Dream, from a series of forty drawings to illustrate the works of William Shakespeare.
Ferdinand (Act IV, scene 3) from Love's Labour's Lost, from a series of forty drawings to illustrate the works of William Shakespeare.
One of the most popular artist/illustrators of the mid-twentieth century, Rockwell Kent became known to the American public through his work in new editions of classics such as The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Moby Dick, Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Leaves of Grass, Paul Bunyan, Faust, The Decameron, Candide, and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (New York: Doubleday, 1936). Perhaps to capitalize on the success of the latter, the publishers issued a limited edition folio of 40 Drawings Done by Rockwell Kent to Illustrate the Works of William Shakespeare a year later. They were sold in a special box, individually matted, with one of the forty prints signed in pencil by the artist. Concurrent with his fame as an artist, Kent achieved some curious notoriety for his communist and pro-Soviet Union political activities; after donating paintings and drawings to the Soviet Union, he even was awarded the infamous "Lenin Peace Prize".
Volume I, displayed here, contains the following plays: The Tempest, A Midsummer-Night's Dream, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Merry Wives of Windsor, Measure for Measure, The Comedy of Errors, and Much Ado About Nothing. The frontispiece portrait, engraved by George Vertue in 1721, was copied from a miniature in the collection of the Earl of Oxford. However, the identity of the miniature remained in doubt and it later was thought to represent Sir Francis Drake.
British-born artist Kathleen Spagnolo moved to the United States with her American husband, whom she had met while working as an artist for the Royal Air Force during World War II. Spagnolo worked as a commercial illustrator in Alexandria before studying printmaking at American University under Robert Gates and Krishna Reddy. She has had a successful career as a local area illustrator, and up until a few years ago was producing fine prints in a variety of media in her Alexandria studio.
The beloved British illustrator Arthur Rackham began his career in magazine work before concentrating predominantly on book illustration at the age of 27. His first book commission came in 1898 with The Ingoldsby Legends, followed the next year by Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, which included two illustrations for A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of Rackham's favorite texts. In 1908 he was commissioned by the publisher William Heinemann to illustrate the complete play, widely acknowledged as his first great success. Rackham selected the lines that he wished to illustrate, and according to a friend, he marveled at the anachronisms in Shakespeare's text:
Titania seems to have been entirely Shakespeare's own creation, but Oberon is doubtless drawn from the German Elf King, whilst Puck was surely never known in classic times. Then again Demetrius is specially mentioned wearing Athenian dress, Hermia and Helena are described as working on a sampler, popular in the Elizabethan household.*
In the first three months following publication, the deluxe edition of 1,000 sold out, and more than half the trade edition of 15,000 sold as well; it remained in print throughout Rackham's life, continuing to earn him royalties. In 1928 Rackham was commissioned by the New York Public Library to illustrate another edition of Shakespeare's Dream. This was delivered as a unique manuscript with original watercolor illustrations, but never published. A third commission to illustrate the Dream came from the Limited Editions Club near the end of Rackham's life, and was published in 1939.
*Cited in Arthur Rackham: A Biography by James Hamilton (New York: Arcade, 1990), 169.
W. Heath Robinson was known more as a illustrator of comic subjects in British periodicals such as The Sketch and The Tatler before becoming established as a preeminent illustrator of the lavish and lucrative gift books published in England prior to the First World War. Robinson recently had published, to critical acclaim, a volume of Andersen's Fairy Tales when he approached the publisher Archibald Constable with his drawings for an illustrated edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1913. As he recalled in his autobiography: The old Greek stories of the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta; of Pyramus and Thisbe and of life in Ancient Athens as seen through British eyes bewitched me. All of these and their strangely harmonious combination with everything that was lovely, and humorous too, in our English countryside filled me with enchantment. I was ambitious to try to express something of this in my drawings and make them a record of this, the most wonderful moonlight night in fantasy. Considered his finest work of illustration, the line drawings and watercolors in Robinson's Dream capture the atmosphere of the story rather than recording specific events in a literal approach to the text. A critic in The Times Literary Supplement hailed the work as "The most complete and beautiful specimen before us of an illustrated book as a single work of art." Cited in The Art of William Heath Robinson by Geoffrey Beare (London: Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2003), 41-42.
Before portraying herself as Lady Macbeth in this engaging self-portrait from 1935, Kyra Markham had pursued a career in theater, supplemented by income from her work as an artist. Markham left high school to study at the Art Students League in Chicago, and simultaneously began writing a series of "poetic dramas." Also a talented actress, she became a member of Chicago's Little Theater in her late teens, and appeared in a production of The Trojan Women. Markham became romantically involved with the writer Theodore Dreiser, twenty years her senior, and moved with him to New York's Greenwich Village. A few years later she left Dreiser and joined the Provincetown Playhouse with a group of her Village theater friends.
During the 1920s, Markham continued acting while also supporting herself with mural commissions and illustrations for book jackets. In 1930 she studied at the Art Students League in New York. For about twelve years beginning in 1934, Markham created lithographs, several of which were honored with prizes and published in the annual Fine Prints of the Year volume. She joined the Federal Arts Project in 1936 and produced a series of lithographs devoted to theater life.
Chester Leich was born in Evansville, Indiana, but most of his youth was spent abroad, primarily in Germany. He began his art studies at the age of twenty-one in Florence under Giovanni Giacometti, a Swiss artist and father of the famous sculptor Alberto. He then moved to Munich and Hamburg, where he continued his art training until 1915, returning to the United States when conditions deteriorated prior to the First World War. In the twenties, Leich worked in Evansville, Chicago, and New York, and exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute, and in Milwaukee and New York. He and his family traveled in Europe during the following decade and settled in the American southwest in 1937.
Although these etchings of scenes from King Lear are not dated, they were made probably in the mid-1930s when Leich created a similar series based on Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt.
In 1920, Sepp Frank produced a limited-edition, fine-press volume of Hamlet with thirty-five etchings published in his native Munich, Germany, by Julius Schroeder. This large drypoint etching, created sixteen years later, reveals the artist's continuing fascination with Shakespeare's most popular protagonist.
This idealized, neoclassic profile portrait in the Wedgwood company's signature blue and white Jasperware is copied from the 1777 black basalt Wedgwood medallion modeled by William Hackwood (ca. 1757-1839). An example of the latter, which was based on a popular engraving, is in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England.
This popular and influential anthology of selected Shakespeare plays was reprinted frequently from its first appearance in 1752 through 1935, probably the longest publication record of any Shakespearean edition.* The compiler of The Beauties of Shakespeare, William Dodd (1729-77), was an ambitious Anglican clergyman, philanthropist, and man of letters, who at one time served as Royal Chaplain to George III. Dodd began work on the first edition when he was still a student at Cambridge, which was published two years after his graduation, at the age of 23. He later produced a second revised edition in 1757, and a third was at the press when Dodd was executed in 1777 for having forged a bond to subsidize the publication of a separate, edited volume of Shakespeare's plays. His trial and sentencing became a cause célèbre, in which Ben Johnson attempted to secure a reprieve and wrote a petition that was signed by 23,000 English citizens. Due to this widespread popular rebuke, Dodd was the last person to be hanged for charges of forgery, sparking "the great reform movement which abolished frequent capital punishment" in England.*
* "A Deadly Edition of Shakespeare," by Edwin Eliott Willoughby, Shakespeare Quarterly Vol. 5, No. 4 (Autumn, 1954), 351.
**Ibid., 357, citing Leon Radzinowicz in The History of English Criminal Law (London, 1946), I, 467-86.
One of Italy's leading twentieth-century cartoonists, Mino Maccari was raised in Siena, where he obtained a doctorate in law at the age of twenty-one. Although he had no formal art training, Maccari became one of the primary illustrators of the popular magazine Il Selvaggio, which reflected contemporary life in Italy between the two world wars. He also produced a number of fine prints, such as this stark woodcut interpretation of Hamlet as a troubled modern youth, in a graphic style reminiscent of German Expressionism. The tormented anti-hero brandishes a gun while a skeleton - possibly his father's ghost - grasps Hamlet's leg menacingly from under a table.
Paul Peter Piech designed and printed bold linocut posters in an effort to promote peace and social justice. Born in Brooklyn and trained at the Cooper Union College of Art in New York, Piech settled in England following his wartime service in Cardiff, Wales, with the Eighth Army Air Force. In 1947 he married a Welsh nurse and continued his art studies at the Chelsea College of Art. Piech worked as artistic director of a major London advertising agency, and in 1959 set up his own press in the garage of his home, which he christened the Taurus Press. The posters he produced, almost always with a political or social message, often quoted world leaders or social activists such as John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Richard M. Nixon.
The French-born Louis-François Roubiliac moved to London in the mid-eighteenth century and became one of the most popular sculptors in England, through the patronage of Robert Walpole, first Earl of Oxford. He created two likenesses of William Shakespeare: a full-length commissioned by the famous actor David Garrick, now in the British Museum; and a bust in the Garrick Club in London, known as the Davenant bust. The latter, which inspired countless reproductions such as the one in Georgetown's collection, has been the subject of recent scholarly inquiry. Comparing the bust to a purported death mask in Darmstadt, Germany, Professor Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel of Marburg and Mainz University claims in her recent book, The True Face of William Shakespeare (2006), that the Davenant bust must actually be a contemporary likeness of the playwright and not the work of Roubiliac.
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players..." The art form of the eighteenth-century enamel snuff box, revived in the 1970s under the name Halcyon Days Enamels, is manufactured from original designs by craftsmen in Bilston in the English Midlands, the traditional center of Georgian enameling on copper. This is one of several different styles of boxes created to commemorate the life and works of William Shakespeare. Upon its tiny surface are quotations from Jaques' famous soliloquy in As You Like It (Act II, scene 7): All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms. And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the bard, Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side, His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
This stamp from the United States Post Office Department (now Postal Service) commemorated the four-hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare's birth. The block of eight was cancelled on the first day of issue in, appropriately, the town of Stratford, Connecticut, then home of the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre and Academy. The description in Postage Stamps of the United States notes, "Beside [the quill] rests the most celebrated skull in theatredom, that of 'alas, poor Yorick.'"*
* United States Post Office Dept., Division of Philately, Postage Stamps of the United States (Washington: U. S. Govt. Printing Office, 1967), 200.
A literary truism is that all plots derive from Homer, the Bible, or Shakespeare. One of the most popular latter such "adaptations" from Romeo and Juliet, is the hit Broadway musical West Side Story* (1957). Inspired by Romeo and Juliet's tragic story of the transcending love of a young man and a young woman from enemy families, West Side Story told the tale in the neighborhoods of Manhattan and two rival street gangs - Tony, leader of the "Jets," falls for Maria, sister of the "Sharks' " leader. The feature-film adaptation of West Side Story** starred Richard Beymer (b. 1938) as Tony, and Natalie Wood (1938-1981) as Maria. Shown here are publicity photos for Beymer and Wood from the Quigley Photographic Archive, an astonishing resource of 55,000 photographs of people from the motion picture industry, collected since 1915 by Quigley Publications (publishers of Motion Picture Herald and Motion Picture Daily), and given to the Georgetown University Library in 1972 by Martin S. Quigley (COL'39).
* Book by Arthur Laurents; lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; music by Leonard Bernstein. Original cast runs 26 September 1957 - 27 Jun 1959, Winter Garden Theatre and Broadway Theatre, New York; and 27 April 1960 - 10 December 1960, Winter Garden Theatre and Alvin Theatre, New York. Produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince; directed by Jerome Robbins.
** Directed by Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1961.
Undated publicity still photo
Undated publicity still photo
the "signature song" by jazz singer Peggy Lee (b. Norma Deloris Egstrom, 1920; d. 2002), featured an homage to Romeo and Juliet in its third verse and following chorus:
Romeo loved Juliet,
Juliet she felt the same.
When he put his arms around her, he said,
"Julie, baby, you're my flame."
Thou giveth fever, when we kisseth
Fever with thy flaming youth.
Fever! I'm afire
Fever, yea, I burn, forsooth.
Apparently it was presumed that the popular music audience in 1958 would appreciate the literary analogy in this sultry and smoldering up-tempo ballad of emotionally and physically passionate love, augmented by the substitution of Elizabethan-era vocabulary in the chorus, as well as the quote of the "flaming youth" line from Hamlet (Act 3, Scene 4). "Fever" was in Billboard's "Top 40" of best-selling singles for twelve weeks, including three in the top ten. Such an allusion in the popular culture - by one of the most successful recording artists of the past century, no less - helps to demonstrate the degree to which the renown of Shakespeare's most famous plays can inform the audience's associations of ideas and concepts.
The curator of the exhibition is LuLen Walker, Art Collection Curator. Art Technician David C. Alan assisted.
The Georgetown University Library acknowledges the following people for their assistance with research, production, and publicity: Lynn Conway, University Archivist; Nicholas Sheetz, Manuscripts Librarian; Stephanie S. Hughes, Editor, Library Associates Newsletter; Joseph A. Haller, S.J., Curator Emeritus of Prints; David Hagen, Graphic Artist/Photographer, Gelardin New Media Center.