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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.'

September 2004