The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Art

About that frontispiece portrait of Hannah Woolley….

I was delighted by the range of responses we got for last week’s Crocodile post on the identity of the woman in the engraving: Catherine of Braganza, Cleopatra, Lady Frances Egerton, Elizabeth Nash nee Hall (Shakespeare’s grand-daughter), Hannah Woolley, and Sarah Gilly. The answer: None of the above, and some of the above. Sarah Gilly? Some surviving impressions of this portrait have the inscription “The Effigies of M:trs Sarah Gilly,” as does the one above. … Continue Reading

A “lost” drawing by Ellen Terry

Is it possible to lose something you never had? The other day I managed to “lose” a 1905 sketch of a theater interior by actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928). I had caught a glimpse of it when sorting through a small group of recently acquired letters, and was looking forward to having a closer look later. As far as I could tell in a glance, it was either a rough sketch looking out from the stage, like this 1768 engraving of the Amsterdam Schouwburg by Simon Fokke (1712-1784): …or it was a rough sketch looking towards the stage, like Simon Fokke’s companion engraving of the same theater: I didn’t want to interrupt my sorting, though, so anticipation about the mystery theater kept building.… Continue Reading

Proof print from the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery

As a couple of you guessed correctly last week, the June Crocodile Mystery is a proof for the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery print of Lady Macbeth illustrating Macbeth, act 1, scene 5. In the finished state, which was printed from the same plate after additional work was done on it, the background is darker, and figure of Lady Macbeth has been filled in.… Continue Reading

Portia in Absentia

The guesses on this month’s Crocodile Mystery definitely pointed in the right direction: the mystery image this month is indeed the monogram signature of an artist. But rather than PH, it is PA: Percy Anderson. Anderson (1851-1928) was a well-respected theatrical designer, doing set and costume designs in both London and New York. In London, beginning in 1888, he most frequently worked for Richard D’Oyly Carte at his Savoy Theatre.… Continue Reading

Drawing for photographic reproduction

This month’s crocodile mystery asked what’s going on with the odd-looking painting technique in an original work of art, shown in a detail. Here’s a view of the whole thing:… Continue Reading

Twentieth-century illustration technique revealed in a “snow Globe”

While looking through the Folger collection for snow scenes (it’s that time of year!) I stumbled across this image of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, drawn in the 1960s by C. Walter Hodges: It is one of about 900 items in the “C. Walter Hodges collection of Elizabethan and other theatre drawings” acquired by the Folger between 1986 and 1990. Hodges drew it for the 1968 edition of his book The Globe Restored: A Study of the Elizabethan Theatre, published by Oxford University Press.… Continue Reading

Time writing

Chronograms—literally, “time writing”—are dates embedded within text. As such, they are a form of hidden writing called steganography: the encoded characters maintain their own value, but are hidden within a larger text. Easily calculable to those who know what they’re looking for, they still excite the thrill of uncovering secret meaning. That thrill was experienced by this cataloger when, for the first time ever, she came across a chronogram that had been previously unremarked.… Continue Reading

Dryden’s Virgil, Ogilby’s Virgil, and Aeneas’s nose job

First, a confession: this month’s Crocodile Mystery was originally going to pose a question along the lines of “What’s weird about this image?” or “What makes this picture especially interesting?” but I gave up. I couldn’t figure out how to phrase it in a way that wouldn’t, in fact, be saying “Try to guess what crucial piece of information is being deliberately witheld!” The longer I looked at the image, the stranger it appeared, so I figured asking for captions would make an interesting Crocodile Mystery, and you came through!… Continue Reading

“A triple badge in Coventry ribbon”

When I retrieved Sh.Misc. 1639 from the shelf, I wasn’t sure what to expect from an item described on the catalog card as “Shakespeare Tercentenary Celebration. Mementoes, tickets, programs…” Many of the components turned out to be fairly common–though no less interesting!—pieces of ephemera such as programs, fundraising letters, performance tickets, and even a train schedule. But one item was a little more exciting.… Continue Reading

Don Quixote on an Early Paper Cover

The Folger Shakespeare Library recently acquired a copybook with an intriguing pictorial paper cover, and it is, of course, the subject of the crocodile mystery we posted last week. This cover is made of thick paper (thicker than regular paper but thinner than boards) and is decorated with an engraving depicting Don Quixote mounted on his noble steed Rocinante, accompanied by his faithful servant Sancho Panza.… Continue Reading

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