Sunday, April 7, 2013

Painting of the Day: “A Performance of Macbeth, Windsor Castle,” 1853

A Performance of Macbeth, Windsor Castle
Louis Haghe, 1853
The Royal Collection

Public outrage at the actions of our leaders is nothing new. Sometimes, a leader will not be aware of the message that she’s sending when she does something that is innocent enough. Such was the case with Queen Victoria who very much enjoyed viewing Italian, French and German operas and theatricals. The English people were upset, wondering why the queen wasn’t as interested in native theatre as she was in foreign productions.

So, in order to quiet the public, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert instituted an annual tradition of inviting the British company of actor Charles Kean into their home to perform works of English origin. This 1853 watercolor by Louis Haghe shows one of these performances. Here, we see the royal family seated in the “Rubens”’ room of Windsor Castle, enjoying a performance of William Shakespeare’s 
Macbeth. You can see the queen and prince seated on the left, with their children on the floor. Victoria was so impressed with the performance that she attended the London production of the show many times.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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