Artistic renditions of Shakespeare and his works have made their way into earlier entries, but the illustrations for this 1803 collection of prints taken from paintings by various English artists–including Josiah Boydell, Henry Fussell, Robert Smirke, and James Northcote–exceed earlier engravings by far, charged as they are with a Romantic energy that far surpasses anything that could be depicted on the stage.
Here, for instance, is an illustration for The Tempest, a diffident Miranda clinging to her father as he chastens the enchanted island’s famous unloved native, Caliban:
And here is one of the more festive scenes from A Midsummer Nights Dream:
While this illustration, aspiring to the status of parable, offers a visual illustration of Jacques’ famous “seven ages of man” speech from As You Like It:
But most the rich and strange of them all, perhaps, is this illustration of the infant Shakespeare’s birth, attended–fittingly enough for a Romantic audience–by Nature and the Passions: