Henry Wallis

The Room in Which Shakespeare Was Born


Henry Wallis 1830–1916
Oil paint on board
Support: 292 x 419 mm
frame: 511 x 638 x 65 mm
Purchased 1955

Not on display

Display caption

Wallis launched his career exhibiting a sequence of paintings of interior scenes connected with the life of the great sixteenth-century poet and playwright William Shakespeare (1564-1616). This one showing the playwright's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon is based on a passage from a contemporary biography by Charles Knight (1842) describing 'the mean room, with its massive joists and plastered walls, firm with ribs of oak'. Wallis has painted the room in remarkable detail. Every nail securing the floorboards is visible. And Wallis has even taken note of Knight's passage describing how 'hundreds amongst the hundreds of thousands by whom that name is honoured have inscribed their names on the walls of the room.'

Gallery label, September 2004

Further reading

Tate Etc

MicroTate 14

Heimo Zobernig, Tim Lee, David Shrigley and Kay Rosen on Tate Collection works Tate Etc. issue 14

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