For the June 2019 “Crocodile Mystery” we asked you to spot the differences between these two pictures:
The main difference, of course, is that one is pretty much the reverse of the other. There are significant compositional differences too, though:
- Background figures in A do not appear in B
- Running man holds out an open palm in A and a sword in B
- Scabbards and legs in A make oblique angles; in B they are parallel or near-parallel (they’re also moved so that figures in both A and B can draw their swords right-handed). Light sketches of new positions for two of the scabbards appear in the drawing.
The image on the left (A) is a monochrome ink wash drawing by Francis Hayman (1707/8–1776), and the image on the right (B) is the published version of that illustration, etched by Hubert-François Gravelot (1699–1773) for The works of Shakespear, in six volumes, carefully revised and corrected by the former editions, and adorned with sculptures designed and executed by the best hands. Oxford: Printed at the Theatre, 1743–1744 (see the Hamnet record). Edited by Thomas Hanmer, it is the first large-format illustrated edition of Shakespeare.1 The images shown here come from ART Vol. b72, a unique copy that contains all thirty-six original drawings for the frontispiece illustrations, plus the original contract between Hanmer (the editor) and Hayman (the artist).
The contract says:
November the 28, 1740
An Agreement enter’d into and made this present day between Sr. Thomas Hanmer, Bart. and Francis Hayman, Gent.
- The said Francis Hayman is to design and delineate a drawing to be prefix’d to each Play of Shakespear taking the subject of such scenes as the said Sr. Thomas Hanmer shall direct. And that he shall finish the same with Indian ink in such a man[n]er as shall be fit for an Ingraver to work after them and approved by the said Sr. Thomas Hanmer.
- That the said Sr. Thomas Hanmer shall pay to the said Francis Hayman the sum of three Guineas for each drawing taking one with another as soon as the whole number shall be finish’d, upon this condition nevertheless and it is declared and mutually consented to that if the whole number shall not be compleated in the manner before-mention’d by Lady day which shall be in the year of our Lord 1741, the said Francis Hayman shall not be intitled to receive any payment or consideration whatsoever for any part of the said work.
[signed] Tho. Hanmer
[signed] Fr. Hayman
As it happens, Francis Hayman only managed to complete thirty-one of the illustrations. All five illustrations in volume 4 were both designed and etched by Hubert-François Gravelot. Unfortunately, we don’t (yet?) know if Hayman renegotiated the contract to avoid the penalty in the second clause or not.
Thomas Hanmer wasn’t kidding when he stipulated that the “subject of each scene” would be “as the said Sr. Thomas Hanmer shall direct.” Charles Rogers (1711–1784) copied a letter from Hanmer to Hayman critiquing the draft drawings for Julius Caesar, Titus Andronicus, and Macbeth, and a lengthy set of “instructions” for twenty-seven of the scenes. These copies survive in the Cottonian Collection of the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, and were published by Marcia Allentuck in Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 3 (Summer 1976), pp. 288-315. The instructions for Two Gentlemen of Verona read:
A wild Forest. Proteus laying violent hands upon Silvia she struggles with all her might to get from him: Valentine at a little distance running eagerly with his sword drawn to her rescue. Julie in the habit of a Page stands by in a fright and great concern. At a distance among the trees of the forest may be shewn some of the Outlaws with Arms in the hands dispers’d here and there.2
Francis Hayman’s drawing follows these instructions closely, including the “Outlaws” in the distance, and Valentine running with his sword drawn, but not brandished. Who, then, decided to make the changes reflected in Hubert-François Gravelot’s print? My guess is that Gravelot came up with the revised composition himself when he was preparing to make the printing plate, perhaps based on comments from Hanmer. As an experienced illustrator in his own right, Gravelot had a good sense of how to focus a scene by removing background distractions and conflicting angles. What about the two versions of Valentine, though?
Elisabeth Chaghafi pointed out in her comment last week that raising the sword makes it look as if Valentine is joining the attack rather than trying to stop it. I can appreciate that, but to me, the facial expressions combined with the gestures make the difference. In the drawing, he’s slack-jawed, and even though his sword is well-positioned to thrust into the bad guys, it looks unimpressive because it blends in with his clothing. I imagine his thought-bubble being something along the lines of “Whuuut?” as he tries to figure out the situation. In the print, he still looks surprised (with the fingers of his left hand splayed) but instead of being slack-jawed, there’s a naive determination in his face as he rushes forward, waving his sword and channeling Mighty Mouse, “Here I come to save the day!”
- Earlier illustrated editions had volumes small enough to hold in one hand. The volumes in Hanmer’s edition require a lap (if you’re relaxing in the library of your stately home) or a table (if you’re in the Reading Room of a rare book library).
- Marcia Allentuck, “Sir Thomas Hanmer Instructs Francis Hayman: An Editor’s Notes to his Illustrator (1744),” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 3 (Summer 1976), p. 296.