The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery

Prefatory Note of the President of the German Shakespeare Society

Dieter Mehl

Off, off you lendings: Come: unbutton here.
Off, off you lendings: Come: unbutton here.

The Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, Germany's oldest literary society, is proud to be associated with this presentation of one of the most ambitious and remarkable collections of pictorial tributes to Shakespeare. The exhibition of the original engravings made from the paintings (many of them now lost) and, in particular, the catalogue accompanying it, was made possible by the combined efforts of an international team of scholars who have been working on various aspects of Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery in close contact with each other. They have approached their subject from the art-historian's point of view as well as from the perspective of Shakespeare studies, especially with regard to the reception of Shakespeare's plays by the reading public, outside the theatre or the critic's study. The paintings and prints commissioned by John Boydell document an important aspect of Shakespeare's dramatic genius and its impact in an area that seems to lie beyond the appeal of his words, but demonstrates their ability to create images in the reader's mind and on the artist's canvass, hardly less impressive and enduring than the poetry that inspired them, and perhaps even more universally understood.

We are very grateful to the enthusiastic group of researchers who have made this collection freshly accessible and we are especially honoured and pleased to be given the first opportunity of presenting their work as part of our annual meeting 1996 in Bochum. I am confident that the exhibition will be welcomed by a particularly grateful and appreciative audience, in Bochum as well as in the other places where it will be shown.