Study for the Play Scene from Hamlet

Accession Number

Study for the Play Scene from Hamlet

Sir William Orpen

Artist Nationality
British (modern)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
graphite and ink wash on paper, mounted on board

18 7/8 in x 12 1/2 in (47.94 cm x 31.75 cm);5 1/4 in x 6 7/8 in (13.34 cm x 17.46 cm);18 7/8 in x 12 1/2 in (47.94 cm x 31.75 cm)

Credit Line
Joseph F. McCrindle Collection

Subject matter
This drawing is a preparatory study for Orpen's painting "The Play Scene From Hamlet," which depicts the scene from Shakespeare's play in which King Claudius watches a theatrical performance about the murder of a king (Act 3, scene 2). The finished painting, now in Houghton Hall, Norfolk, won the 1899 prize for best composition in the annual competition at the Slade School of Art in London where Orpen was a student. In the drawing Orpen experiments with the massing of figures and dramatic distribution of light for what would become the lower right corner of the final work.

Physical Description
This drawing depicts two groups of figures. A darker, more heavily shadowed group that includes a prominent standing figure appears in the lower right corner. A second group of seated figures, more lightly drawn, appear in the upper left.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
preparatory drawing

Additional Object Classification(s)
Unbound Work

Collection Area

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plays (performed works)
preparatory drawings
theaters (buildings)

3 Related Resources

History of Acting - Gestural Acting and Realism
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
Theater and Drama
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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