Shakespeare Gallery folio, "Tempest, Act I, Scene I"; (after a painting by George Romney) by Benjamin Smith

Shakespeare Gallery folio, Tempest, Act I, Scene I; (after a painting by George Romney) by Benjamin Smith

Shakespeare Gallery folio, "Tempest, Act I, Scene I"; (after a painting by George Romney)

Benjamin Smith

Title

Shakespeare Gallery folio, "Tempest, Act I, Scene I"; (after a painting by George Romney)

 
Artist
Year
1797  
Technique
engraving 
Image Size
19 5/8 x 25" " platemark 
Signature
engraved, lower right 
Edition Size
not stated; this image most likely from first edition 
Annotations
engraved: title and date of publication, pblshr's name and address, excerpt from play, both painter and etcher's names beneath image. 
Reference
 
Paper
heavy antique-white wove 
State
published 
Publisher
John Boydell: J. & J., Publishers 
Inventory ID
16601 
Price
$500.00 
Description

THE BOYDELL SHAKESPEARE FOLIO included 167 engravings, dating from 1791 to 1803, that were adapted from paintings shown at the Shakespeare Gallery in London in the late eighteenth century. John Boydell (1719 - 1804) was a noted engraver, publisher, print-seller, and even Lord Mayor of London, who established the Shakespeare Gallery and sold to subscribers engravings of the paintings shown there. His nephew, Josiah Boydell, published the collected engravings after John Boydell's death.

In this chaotic opening scene, a small ship at sea is surrounded by a terrible storm (Tempest, as the play is titled). The ship's master calls for his boatswain to put the crew into action and save the ship from being run aground. Some of the crew enter, followed by a group of nobles. Among them are Alonso, King of Naples, his brother, Sebastian, Gonzalo, Antonio etc. They came from Tunis, in Africa, where Claribel, Alonzo's daughter, has been married to the prince (the audience hasn't learned of this yet, nor the characters names). The group of nobles are in the way as the Boatswain and crew take down the topsail and topmast, so, the Boatswain tells them to go below-decks. At this point Gonzalo reminds the Boatswain of the great importance of one of the passengers but the Boatswain's only concern is saving the ship, regardless of who is on board.

The nobles go belowdecks but Sebastian, Antonio, and Gonzalo enter again shortly thereafter. Sebastian and Antonio mask their fear by cursing the Boatswain in his efforts to save the ship. Some of the crew enter crying and wet, and the audience learns of the identity of the passengers. After Gonzalo orders the crew to pray for the King and the prince, there is a strange noise, like that of thunder, the breaking up of the ship, or the roar of the sea, and the crew cries out. Accepting that the ship may very well go down, and that they will die, Antonio, Sebastian, and Gonzalo search for the king.