A head portrait of William Shakespeare. He is depicted here with a faint smile, wearing an Elizabethan collar, surrounded by his own characters. To the right of the figurehead, Macbeth stands beside the three witches and to his left, Hamlet observes a ghostly crowned figure. A wreath of rose leaves frames his head whilst ferns fringe and decorate the top corners, in white on the right and black on the left.
William Shakespeare about 1800-3 (removed from display) William Blake 1757-1827 Pen and ink and tempera on canvas William Blake is best known for his emotive poetry and his imaginative paintings, drawings and prints. This work belongs to an unusual group of portraits which are of a more decorative nature. They depict the heads of eighteen poets, commissioned by Blake's patron William Hayley for his private library in Felpham, Sussex. Several English poets were chosen for inclusion, alongside classical writers such as Homer and Cicero. Shakespeare's head is surrounded by the three witches and the ghost of Banquo from his play Macbeth. Purchased 1885.2
Sight: 41cm x 79.5cm
Frame: 50.8cm x 88.7cm
Place of creation
© Manchester Art Gallery