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Exhibition at Yale Center for British Art focuses primarily on depictions of Shakespeare's comedies
Charles Hunt, Children acting the ‘Play Scene’ from “Hamlet,” Act II, scene ii, 1863, oil on canvas, Paul Mellon Fund.

NEW HAVEN, CT.- In spring 2012 Shakespeare at Yale, a campus-wide, term-long series of exhibitions, plays, concerts, films, and lectures will celebrate the university’s wealth of resources for the study and enjoyment of the works of William Shakespeare. At the Yale Center for British Art, “While these visions did appear”: Shakespeare on Canvas will feature works from the Center’s permanent collection of paintings to explore historic representations of Shakespeare’s scenes and characters by artists working in Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The exhibition will focus primarily on depictions of Shakespeare’s comedies, but will also draw on comedic elements from the tragedies and histories, including The Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, The Merry Wives of Windsor, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Hamlet, and Cymbeline, by artists such as Francis Wheatley, William Hamilton, Robert Smirke, Benjamin van der Gucht, Joseph Noel Paton, and Charles Hunt. “While these visions did appear” will encourage consideration of the many ways in which the comedic elements in Shakespeare’s plays continue to inspire painters and audiences alike.

A second exhibition opening at the Center this spring, Making History: Antiquaries in Britain (2 February–27 May), will feature objects related to the renowned playwright, such as royal portraits and artifacts from battles fi ctionalized in Shakespeare’s history plays. The Center is also in the process of adding Shakespeare-related works from its prints and drawings collection to the searchable online catalogue.

shakespeare at yale
Shakespeare at Yale includes nearly every major arts organization on campus, as well as the Yale Schools of Medicine and Law, the Elizabethan Club, and Elm Shakespeare Company. Each day in Yale’s spring semester will offer at least one way in which to participate in this celebration, as Yale demonstrates the continuing ability of Shakespeare to enrich our lives.

In addition to the Center, the Yale University Art Gallery, Whitney Humanities Center, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Lewis Walpole Library, and Manuscripts and Archives have planned exhibitions for the celebration.

The idea for Shakespeare at Yale came from David Kastan, George M. Bodman, Professor of English at Yale University, who fi rst contacted President Richard Levin about the possibility of hosting a university-wide celebration that would bring attention to the world-class collections and resources at Yale. “Yale has the best collection of early versions of Shakespeare of any university in America,” says Kastan. “Every time I push on a door, whether at the Beinecke or the Elizabethan Club, I discover something else that I didn’t know was here.”

Shakespeare at Yale partners include the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Elizabethan Club, Elm Shakespeare Company, Films at the Whitney, Lewis Walpole Library, Manuscripts and Archives, Whitney Humanities Center, Yale Center for British Art, Yale Dramatic Association, Yale Drama Coalition, Yale English Department, Yale Film Studies Program, Yale Film Study Center, Yale Law School, Yale Music Department, Yale Repertory Theatre, Yale School of Drama, Yale School of Medicine, Yale School of Music, Yale Theater Studies Program, and Yale University Art Gallery.

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