Shakespeare’s work has inspired generations of authors, screenwriters, and poets. His storylines are still constantly used for modern films like She’s the Man and 10 Things I Hate About You. Even The Lion King is based on Hamlet! He contributed countless new words to the English language like ‘lovely’ and ‘bubble.’ He also inspired some of the most beautiful paintings of all time. Let’s take a look at the art inspired by arguably the greatest writer of all time.
1. Ophelia by John Everett Millais, inspired by Hamlet
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Millais’ famous Pre-Raphaelite work depicts drowned Ophelia, bearing wreaths of flowers all with their own particular meaning–poppies symbolizing death, daisies for innocence, roses depicting love and beauty, violets for faithfulness. If you look closely, you can also see the spectre of a skull in the undergrowth on the lower right-hand side of the painting. This is one of my favorite works of art of all time. According to The Tate website:
Millais’s son John wrote that his father’s flowers were so realistic that a professor teaching botany, who was unable to take a class of students into the country, took them to see the flowers in the painting Ophelia, as they were as instructive as nature itself.
2. Ellen Tarry as Lady Macbeth by John Singer Sargent, inspired by Macbeth
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Singer Sargent was inspired to paint this portrait of the actress Ellen Tarry immediately after seeing her perform as Lady Macbeth in a production in the Lyceum Theatre, London in 1888. She wore a spectacular gown which was embroidered with gold and decorated with 1,000 iridescent wings from the green jewel beetle.
3. The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania by Joseph Noel Paton, inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream
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According to National Galleries Scotland website:
Oberon and Titania stand reunited and are about to resolve the magically induced confusion between the two human lovers shown sleeping apart. Paton painted this as a sequel to his diploma picture of the fairy rulers’ quarrel.
4. Cordelia’s Goodbye by Edward Austin Abbey, inspired by King Lear
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This painting depicts Cordelia being banished by her father King Lear, as a result of her refusing to flatter him. Her elder sisters, Regan and Gonoreil, watch while the King of France kisses her hand, as he admires her honesty.
5. Othello and Desdemona by Daniel Maclise, inspired by Othello
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Here we see Othello and Desdemona, with Iago lurking in the shadows. The colors are so vibrant, and the detail so fine. Thank you Shakespeare for inventing the word ‘bedazzled’ and also for inspiring this beautiful painting. At least Desdemona got to wear that fab dress before she bit the dust.
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