Engraving of Charles Macready as King Lear, 1851–53


This engraving depicts William Charles Macready and Helen Faucit as Lear and Cordelia in a key production of King Lear from 1838. It features in an illustrated edition of the works of Shakespeare from the 1850s. From the image, we can tell something about the staging of the performance. Macready kept with British theatrical tradition (started by Garrick in 1756) by playing Lear dressed in a scarlet robe trimmed with ermine. The painted backdrops showed epic, prehistoric landscapes to heighten the tragedy of the play. As is evident from this image, Macready reinstated Shakespeare’s tragic ending in which Cordelia has been murdered in prison, an ending that had been cut from Tate’s adaptation of the play, which had dominated the stage for 150 years.

Full title:
The Complete Works of Shakspere, revised from the original editions
1851–53, London, New York
Book / Image / Illustration / Print
J O Halliwell
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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