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SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE,
PRESIDENT OF THE* ROYAL ACADEMY,
8rc. #c. THIS WORK
IS INSCRIBED, WITH GREAT RESPECT,
BY HIS OBLIGED AND OBEDIENT SERVANT,
PR EFAC E.
In attempting to illustrate our great dramatist more fully than has hitherto been done, it may be deemed proper that the artist should explain his reasons for departing from the beaten track.
The variety and excellence of the illustrations of Shakspeare already produced, seem to preclude the possibility of now offering any which shall possess either novelty or attraction; but it is presumed that there is still a path untrodden, and that something yet remains to be done towards the more complete and perfect illustration of our great poet.
The dramatist, who is limited in the time for representation on the stage, exhibits in his scenes those occurrences only which he considers most important, and best adapted for theatrical effect; but the painter, by making the story of the play complete in a series of designs, arranged as the events are supposed to have taken place, and by filling up what
the nature of the drama compels the poet to leave undefined, shows the author's ideas in a new light. He does not take what is common to both, for that is no more than repeating the poet; but he throws all the advantages of his own art into the scale, displays an additional originality, and enhances the interest of the work.
I am, therefore, induced to think, that a series of designs, illustrative of the stories of Shakspeare's plays, may prove acceptable to the admirers of our immortal poet, as a humble accompaniment to his works. My object will be to give the spirit of the play, rather than a servile imitation of individual passages, and, if possible, to render the plates com-" plete in themselves, that they may interest equally as an illustration of the poet's ideas, and as an intelligible series of amusing designs.