Shakespeare Series
Baseball Art Classic Art Shakespeare Series Scientist Series


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To Entertain

William Shakespeare expressed his theatrical goal poetically in the last lines of his final play:

from Epilogue of The Tempest  

Brief Candles: The Shakespeare Series shares Shakespeare’s goal. 

The paintings depict scenes from sixteen of his plays and describe with paint the spirit of the characters that Shakespeare has so deftly presented on stage.    As Maggi Kramm (American Theatre, May/June, 1996) has written, “Shakespeare didn’t try to change the world.  [His] plays by and large describe, they don’t prescribe.”

Concentrating on those elements of an image that heighten the viewer’s enjoyment - surprise, amusement, curiosity, fantasy – the ingredients of entertainment come to the fore.  It is some measure of Shakespeare’s greatness that, four centuries after the playwright’s death, an artist can still find these elements in his characters.

bulletClick on the image to see a larger version. All of the paintings in this series are 48" x 30". 


 cassandra2.jpg (6325 bytes)

And Cassandra Laughed
[Troilus and Cressida]
Here the author has thrown in a pinch of irony.  Cassandra is a prophetess cursed by Apollo so that no one ever believes her predictions.  Now, she knows full well what terrible fates await her family so it’s remarkable she can laugh at anything, especially at a really bad joke by her brother, Troilus.
 beatrix.jpg (7885 bytes) Beatrice and Benedick
[Much Ado About Nothing]
Beatrice:   Against my will, I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.
Benedick:   Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.
Beatrice:   I took no more pains for those thanks, than you take pains to thank me; if it had been painful I would not have come.
Benedick:   You take pleasure, then, in the message?
Beatrice:   Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife’s point...
 tempest.jpg (7351 bytes) Evolution of the Spirit
[The Tempest]
The slave, Caliban, and the magician, Prospero, evolve toward the state of the perfect spirit, Ariel.  Caliban, who had fallen in with a bad crowd, is redeemed by foregoing revenge against his master, and Prospero, who is influenced by Ariel, is redeemed by foregoing revenge against his sworn enemies.  Neither quite reaches Ariel's level, but they both progress.
 jacques.jpg (7764 bytes) A Most Humorous Sadness
[As You Like It]
Jaques (pronounced Jay-kweez) is questioned about his melancholy nature by Rosalind.  He replies that the “contemplation of my travels...wraps me in a most humorous sadness.”  Rosalind understands and says that a traveler who has sold his own lands to see those of other men will “have rich eyes and poor hands”.
 othello.jpg (8480 bytes) A Poisonous Mineral
Iago feeds his poisonous suggestions to his general, Othello, who comes to believe that his wife, Desdemona, has been unfaithful.  This is an example of a scoundrel whose villainy is so powerful that it can corrupt an innocent character, inciting him to disastrous jealousy.
 Iago:   For that I do suspect the lusty Moor hath leap’d into my seat; the thought whereof doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards; and nothing can or shall content my soul, till I am even’d with him, wife for wife; Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor at least into a jealousy so strong that judgment cannot cure.
 tonycleo.jpg (8340 bytes) A Strumpet's Fool
[Antony and Cleopatra]
Philo:   Take but good note, and you shall see in him
   The triple pillar of the world transformed
   Into a strumpet’s fool: behold and see.
 lear.jpg (6942 bytes) As If We Were God’s Spies
[King Lear]
Lear and his daughter, Cordelia, have been taken as prisoners.  In the midst of his insanity, Lear has a remarkable insight about the transitiveness of wealth and power.  “We two alone will sing like birds in the cage...and we’ll wear out, in a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones, that ebb and flow by the moon."
 richardii.jpg (7409 bytes) Help Him to His Grave
[Richard II]
Bushy:   Old John of Gaunt is grievous sick, my lord...
Richard:   Now put it, heaven, in his physician’s mind
   To help him to his grave immediately!
   The lining of his coffers shall make coats
   To deck our soldiers for these Irish wars.
   Come, gentlemen, let’s all go visit him:
   Pray God, we may make haste, and come too late!
 hamlet.jpg (7525 bytes) Polonius and the Madman
Hamlet:   Do you see that cloud, that’s almost in shape like a camel?
Polonius:   By the mass, and it is like a camel, indeed.
Hamlet:   Methinks, it is like a weasel.
Polonius:   It is backed like a weasel.
Hamlet:   Or, like a whale?
Polonius:   Very like a whale.
 portia2.jpg (8265 bytes) Portia's Dilemma
[The Merchant of Venice]
Portia's father has specified that in order to win her hand in marriage a suitor must choose the casket that holds her portrait.  There are three caskets on the table - gold, silver, and lead.  Portia knows that the lead casket holds her portrait and, with Bassanio (her choice for a husband) doing the choosing, she might offer some subtle hints.  She isn't the type to leave things to chance or to a suitor who isn't the brightest guy in the world.  Nerissa, her maid, watches  with glee.
 robin.jpg (6780 bytes) Robin’s Mistake
[A Midsummer-Night’s Dream]
Oberon:   Hast thou the flower, welcome wanderer?
   ... Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove;
   A sweet Athenian lady is in love
   With a disdainful youth: anoint his eyes
   ... that he may prove
   more fond on her, than she upon her love.
  macbeth.jpg (7508 bytes) Slumbery Agitation
Gentlewoman:   ...I have seen her rise from her bed, throw her nightgown upon her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon it, afterwards seal it, and again return to bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep.
 henryiv.jpg (6543 bytes) The Head That Wears a Crown
[Henry IV, Part 2]
Henry can't sleep.  His conscience is probably bothering him - he has killed a few people, such as his predecessor, Richard II.  He is also concerned about his worthless, playboy son, Prince Hal.  Still, it seems to Henry that the king, of all people, should be granted a sound sleep.  All of this results in the greatest whining soliloquy ever written.
 spider.jpg (6939 bytes) The Spider and the Painted Queens
[Richard III]
Richard confronts Queen Margaret and Queen Elizabeth.  Both of the queens hate Richard and they also feel powerless and vulnerable with respect to Richard.  Margaret directs some of her wrath toward Elizabeth who has been trying to appease the villain.  Margaret calls Elizabeth "poor painted queen" and berates her for feeding sugar to the venomous "bottled spider" (Act I, Scene iii).
 yelogarters.jpg (7207 bytes) The Tickled Trout
[Twelfth Night]
Malvolio is pompous and conceited and nearly half the characters in the play conspire to “make a contemplative idiot of him”.  They convince him that his boss, Olivia, is in love with him and that she requests he wear cross-gartered yellow stockings and smile at all times.  When he shows up like this, Olivia thinks he has lost his mind.
 caesar.jpg (7962 bytes) The Warning
[Julius Caesar]
Caesar:  Set on; and leave no ceremony out.
Soothsayer:  Caesar.
Caesar:  Ha!  Who calls?
Casca:  Bid every noise be still.  Peace yet again.
Caesar:  Who is in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music…


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Last modified: 27 October 2007