RSC Collaborates on SHAKESPEARE IN ART Exhibition at Compton Verney

Henry Fuseli's 'Macbeth', Act I, Scene 3, the Weird Sisters

As part of the Bard's 400th anniversary celebrations, the gallery at Compton Verney in Warwickshire - which is just nine miles away from Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon - has joined forces with the RSC to create a new exhibition. SHAKESPEARE IN ART: TEMPESTS, TYRANTS AND TRAGEDY, opening next month, pays tribute to a playwright whose work has inspired countless artists over the centuries, from Sargent, Fuseli, Rossetti, Blake and Watts to Romney, Karl Weschke, Kate Tempest and Tom Hunter.

The multimedia, multi-sensory exhibition, designed by the RSC's director of design, Stephen Brimson Lewis, features more than 70 works arranged over eight 'acts'. The paintings, drawings, engravings, woodcuts and photographs are on loan from the institutions such as the Tate, the V&A, the RSC's own, rarely publicly displayed art collection, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. RSC actors will also bring to life scenes from the some of the major paintings in tailored audio guides.

Highlights include John Singer Sargent's imposing 1889 portrait of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth; Dante Gabriel Rossetti's delicate ink and wash study The Death of Lady Macbeth; a 2015 installation from Davy and Kristin McGuire called Ophelia's Ghost, which features a holographic projection onto water; pioneering theatre designer, director and writer Edward Gordon Craig's designs for a 1912 Stanislavsky production of Hamlet at Moscow Art Theatre; Antony Sher's drawing of himself playing Prospero; Scottish painter John Runciman's 1767 Lear in the Storm; 18th-century artists' responses to the supernatural power of Macbeth's witches; and a sneak preview of the cutting-edge technology the RSC is employing in its new production of THE TEMPEST, including a 3D avatar of Ariel created with the team responsible for Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films.

John Singer Sargent's portrait of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth

Visitors can glimpse David Farrell's behind the scenes photographs from Sir Peter Hall's 1968 film of A Midsummer Night's Dream, starring Judi Dench, Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm and Ian Richardson, which was shot entirely on location at Compton Verney.

There will also be a specially commissioned artwork from the award-winning and internationally acclaimed photographer Tom Hunter, who has reimagined Ophelia's death in Hamlet utilising Compton Verney's famous 'Capability' Brown lake.

Dr Steven Parissien, Director of Compton Verney, says: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with the RSC and to be able to contribute something new and original to the Shakespeare anniversary celebrations of 2016."

Geraldine Collinge, RSC Director of Events and Exhibitions, added: "We are looking forward to sharing this wonderful exhibition with our many members and visitors. It has been a fantastic experience to work with the team at Compton Verney and bring our skills together. The exhibition promises to be an exciting and unique contribution to this important Shakespeare anniversary."

Shakespeare in Art opens on March 19 and runs until June 19.

There is also another exhibition at Compton Verney running in conjunction with it. Boydell's Vision: The Shakespeare Gallery in the 18th Century traces the history of John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery on London's Pall Mall. Using the Bard as a vehicle for the development of a national form of history painting, the print publisher John Boydell commissioned prominent painters, sculptors and printmakers of the day, including George Romney, Henry Fuseli and James Northcote, to produce works depicting scenes from all of Shakespeare's plays. The Compton Verney display includes examples of this work, as well as a digital reconstruction of The Shakespeare Gallery as it looked in 1796.

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