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HEROINES OF SHAKSPEARE:
THE PRINCIPAL FEMALE CHARACTERS
ENGRAVED IN THE HIGHEST STYLE OF ART, FROM DRAWINGS BY EMINENT ARTISTS.
WITH LETTERPRESS EXTRACTS FROM THE TEXT, IN ENGLISH AND FRENCH; AND CRITICAL ESSAYS
ON EACH OF THE CHARACTERS.
WARD AND LOCK, 158, FLEET STRE ET.
THE “HEROINES OF SHAKSPEARE” afford us some of the finest fancy pictures which the imagination of man can paint. The higher passions of human nature are depicted in all their tenderness and constancy, for our admiration; whilst its vices are equally exposed in their hideousness to our view. At times we see him delineating all that is noble, generous, and good; as in his Portia, Juliet, Desdemona, and others; and yet the reverse is also presented, both in the leading and minor characters of his plays.
An able critic has well remarked, that “He has shown us woman in all her aspects; the true-hearted and fickle, the pure and impure, the lovely and the loathly, all figure on his canvas; but however repulsive, or however enchanting they may be, their very faults, as well as their virtues, are feminine.”
It is the object of this work to afford a series of finely executed Engravings, representing the leading female characters of SHAKSPEARE. If the master-hand has succeeded so well in giving us word-pictures, it is needful that the pencil of the artist should strive towards an equal excellence, so that the lineaments on paper may, in some adequate degree, reflect the creations of the mind.
It has been attempted to secure this, by reproducing some of the best pictures of those painters who have made the HEROINES OF SHAKSPEARE their study, and given us the results of their creative fancy on canvas. It will be only required to mention such names as HAYTER, Frith, EGG, CORBOULD, with whom others of eminent talents have been associated, to show that the highest qualifications have been pressed into the Work.
The entire series of Engravings is scarcely equalled by any other in their execution and finish of detail. It may be no excess of truth to remark, that they approach perfection as near as the art of the engraver will permit.
The notices which accompany the pictures are intended to present the leading features of the character thus represented. A general outline of each drama is afforded, so that the reader may be in a position to judge of the incidents and details it contains, as far as they refer to the subject under illustration. The comparatively limited space which the Work permits of, must form an apology for the conciseness and incompleteness with which the description is drawn. SHAKSPEARE himself is, generally speaking, a model of condensation of thought; and bold must that man be who would attempt to follow closely in his steps. We may imitate him; but, in doing so, we expose our defects, only to heighten his excellences by the contrast. The