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SHAKESPEARE, William (1564--1616)
[Works. 1802. Steevens]
The dramatic works of Shakspeare. Revised by George Steevens. Vol. I. (--IX.)
London: printed by W. Bulmer & Co., Shakspeare Printing-Office, for John and Josiah Boydell, George & W. Nicol; from the types of W. Martin, 1802.
9 vols ; 42.5 cm. (2º)
I: [8], xliii, [1], [4], 86, [2], [4], 86, [4], 106, [4], 108 p., [13] pl.
II: [8], 72, [4], 98, [6], 103, [1], [4], 84 p., [11] pl.
III: [8], 100, [4], 105, [1], [4], 104, [4], 112 p., [10] pl.
IV: [8], 98, [6], 122, [6], 98, [4], 103, [1] p., [11] pl.
V: [8], 112, [4], 114, [4], 123, [1], [4], 128 p., [8] pl.
VI: [8], 112, [4], 127, [1], [4], 120, [4], 143, [1] p., [12] pl.
VII: [10], 124, [2], [4], 144, [4], 102, [4], 146 p., [10] pl.
VIII: [8], 99, [1], [4], 101, [1], [6], 135, [1], [4], 141, [1] p., [9] pl.
IX: [6], 135, [1], [4], 122, [6], 152, [4], 134 p., [12] pl.

First Boydell edition. Edited by Josiah Boydell. With the prefaces by Pope and Johnson. Each play is separately paged. Originally issued in 18 numbers, 1791--1802, which were then gathered in nine volumes dated 1802; the dedication dated 1803 is signed: 'John Boydell, Josiah Boydell, George Nicol'. 'According to the prospectus, issued in 1786, a type foundry, an ink factory, and a printing house were all specially erected for the production of this edition' (Jaggard). It includes 96 full-page copper engravings, dated 1791--1803, including two portraits (as frontispieces), depicting scenes from the plays, mainly by R. Smirke, W. Hamilton, R. Westall, F. Wheatley, James Northcote, with a few each by Reynolds, Opie, Stothard, and others. Among the engravers who executed the greatest number of plates are James Parker, Anker Smith, and James Heath. The plates are reduced versions of Boydell's Graphic illustrations of the dramatic works of Shakspeare, consisting of large engravings issued without text in numbers beginning in 1790 and then published complete in two volumes dated 1803 but with the last issued plates dated 1 December 1804 and a preface dated 25 March 1805. No table of contents or list of plates is given in the Dramatic works, but the plates correspond with the list given in Boydell's Graphic illustrations except that the latter lacks a variation of the first plate in Richard III (Gloster and the princes) while it has in addition (as frontispiece) 'Shakspeare nursed by Tragedy and Comedy', a portrait of John Boydell, a variation of Juliet's supposed death, and a second plate in Titus Andronicus (Lavinia nursing her young nephew, by T. Kirk). Boydell spent a fortune on his Shakespeare project, commissioning original paintings from the leading artists of the day and displaying them in his Shakespeare Gallery on Pall Mall which opened in May 1789 with 34 pictures. By late 1803 John and Josiah Boydell were in financial difficulties as a result of problems with the variable quality of the engravings for the Dramatic works and the effect of the French wars on trade generally, and applied to Parliament for leave to conduct a lottery to raise money by disposing of the Gallery and its contents (q.v.). However, Alderman Boydell died before the lottery could be drawn, and the pictures were later sold at Christie's, 17--20 May 1805 (q.v.). Soane acquired two paintings at this sale, William Hamilton's Richard II (SM Inv. P147) and the large Merry Wives of Windsor by James Durno (SM Inv. 211). See: W. Jaggard, Shakespeare bibliography (Stratford-upon-Avon: Shakespeare Press, 1911), p. 508; J.O. Halliwell-Phillips, Shakesperiana: A catalogue of the early editions of Shakespeare's plays, and of the commentaries and other publications illustrative of his works (London: J.R. Smith, 1841), III, 34; Robin Hamlyn, 'The Shakespeare Galleries of John Boydell and James Woodmason', in Jane Martineau et al., Shakespeare in art (London: Merrell, 2003), pp. 97--101.




Copy Notes Inscription in ink on vol. I front free-endpaper: Many of the leaves of letter press, and plates defaced by damp, previous to 1837. GB. [i.e. George Bailey, first curator].

Binding C19th diced russia with gilt and blind roll-tooled borders, gilt and blind-tooled spines, direct-lettered in gilt, gilt edges.

Reference Number 615


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