The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Drawn by Hayman, etched by Gravelot, preserved in Folger ART Vol. b72

For the June 2019 “Crocodile Mystery” we asked you to spot the differences between these two pictures:

Frontispiece illustration for Two Gentlemen of Verona from Thomas Hanmer’s 6-volume edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published 1743-44: original drawing (A) and published print after that drawing (B) [Folger ART Vol. b72 v.1]
The main difference, of course, is that one is pretty much the reverse of the other. There are significant compositional differences too, though:

  1. Background figures in A do not appear in B
  2. Running man holds out an open palm in A and a sword in B
  3. 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).

Agreement between Thomas Hanmer and Francis Hayman, 28 November 1740 [Folger manuscript ART Vol. b72, v. 1, verso of front free endpaper]. Click image to open a zoomable view.
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.

    1. 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.
    2. 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?

Detail of Valentine from Hayman’s drawing (left) and Gravelot’s print (right) [Folger ART Vol. b72 v.1]
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!”

  1. 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).
  2. 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.


  • Lovely post, Erin – and yes, I agree that the engraved Valentine looks like he might be a bit more useful in a swordfight. Though to be fair, Hayman’s drawing does seem to be mainly concerned about gestures, because that’s where all the drama comes from. It’s actually not just Valentine who looks a bit gormless; if you look at the facial expressions of the other three, none of them really seem appropriate for the type of situation depicted: Silvia looks mildly surprised at best (despite the fact that she seems to have dislocated her shoulder in the struggle), Proteus’ face seems to be saying ‘are you all right, dear?’ as he is grabbing her by the neck, while Julie is standing by with the facial expression of a lady scandalised by a naughty joke she has overheard. So either Hayman was really terrible at drawing faces or (more likely) he simply didn’t put a lot of effort into them because he knew that facial expressions would change in the engraving process anyway, so he only provided the general outlines of the faces and left the engraver to fill in the blanks, as it were.

    • It’s been years since I’ve heard anyone use the word “gormless”! Thanks for that.

      I wonder what Hanmer thought of the drawing, and how many versions of it Hayman had to do? His reaction to the first version of Julius Caesar shows that Hayman listened to his critiques, since the surviving drawing shows the improvements Hanmer asked for:

      Brutus here is too old a man and indeed he seems older than Cassius, whereas Cassius should be much older than he. Brutus should be but a middle-aged man with a smooth good countenance and as much manly beauty as you can give him. — The lean and wrinkled Cassius is the picture which Shakespear gives of him in words and so he should appear in your representation: but you have put too much fury into his looks and action. He looks more like a Russian than a great man earnest in discourse. The hand upon the table signifies properly enough that earnestness, but the other should not be upon his sword; put that, I pray, into some other posture, and mend his looks and his hair, to give him a little more dignity mix’d with his hasty temper. Let not Brutus lean upon books for besides that it gives him too great an affectation of wisdom for his character, it is to be remember’d that they just come off their march and enter into the tent directly so as not to [be] provided with books.

      Source: 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. 290.

  • Fascinating. Clearly Hanmer was very particular about the kinds of scenes he wanted… And it’s interesting how much emphasis he seems to put on gestures (i.e. positioning of hands etc) to convey a specific idea of a character. My favourite bit has to be the instruction to fix Cassius’ hair to make him look more respectable, though!

  • I’m betting the sword hand was changed because the left arm is the weak one – Hayman forgot the image would be reversed.

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