Eighteenth-Century Pictorial Editions of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra

By Arbaayah Ali Termizi.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper reports a study done on the eighteenth-century reception of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. The focus will be on the inclusion of illustrations in the major editions of the play in the period. In the course of discovering the nature of illustrative interest in the text, this research explores the significant factors which influence the choice of pictures inserted. The pictures, as discussed in this report, represent an unusual reflection of the play from the artists’ or the editor’s perspectives. The characters, depicted settings, choice of scenes, and models are among the factors variously employed by the illustrators in their visual representations and these factors in the end become the feature of the text visual interpretation. The selection of pictures covers from Rowe’s edition in 1709 to George Steevens’ ‘grangerised’ version in 1793. What emerges in the course of the research is that the fascination with Antony and Cleopatra which was manifested in its illustrative representation began to take a different course in the mid to late eighteenth century. Hence this paper argues that the initiative to illustrate the play offers distinctive clues to the interest in the understanding of Shakespeare’s work and how it affected the eighteenth century.

Keywords: Shakespeare, Illustrations, Pictures, Antony and Cleopatra, Visual Representation, Suicide scene

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.355-364. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.207MB).

Dr. Arbaayah Ali Termizi

Senior Lecturer, English Language Department, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Arbaayah Ali Termizi (PhD) is currently a senior lecturer with the English Department of Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Her main research interest lies in areas related to Shakespeare’s studies particularly in the illustrations of texts and staging aspects of the plays. In addition she is also interested in studies related to incorporating the art of drama performances in the teaching of Shakespeare‘s texts.


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