Angelica Kauffmann, Valentine, Proteus, Sylvia and Giulia in the Forest (Scene from "Two Gentlemen of Verona" Act V, Scene IV), 1788. Oil on canvas. Museum purchase in memory of Winifred Herman Friedman (Class of 1945). 1976.34
That Right Promethean Fire: Shakespeare Illustrated
Feb 10 2016 - Jun 5 2016

Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, this exhibit will explore the legacy of artistic engagement with the Bard’s plays. From the monumental project of the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery to the Weimar Republic; from Victorian America to contemporary U.S. poetry, Shakespeare’s work has routinely incited artists to respond in interesting and diverse ways. Here, a selection of paintings, prints, photography, and books will illuminate how artists such as Angelika Kauffman, Eugène Delacroix, Max Beckmann, and Rockwell Kent have engaged with the rich corpus of Shakespeare’s work. Drawn from the collections of the Davis Museum, Special Collections of the Clapp Library, and the Wellesley College Archives, Shakespeare Illustrated will also highlight Wellesley’s profound interest in Shakespeare over more than a century of time.


Curated by Meredith Fluke, Kemper Curator of Academic Programs at the Davis, in collaboration with William Cain,Mary Jewett Gaiser Professor of English and Ruth Rogers, Curator of Special Collections at Wellesley College. The exhibition is generously supported by Wellesley College Friends of Art.


“More than Words can Witness”: Performances by Members of the Wellesley College Shakespeare Society

Saturday, February 27, 2016 | 3:00pm | Davis Galleries

Experience the Davis Museum’s Shakespeare exhibition from an actor’s point of view!  Join students from the Wellesley College Shakespeare Society for a lively in-gallery performance inspired by the works on display in That Right Promethean Fire: Shakespeare Illustrated.  The audience is invited to a conversation with the actors following the performance, discussing the relationship between theater and visual art, and the special history of Shakespeare at Wellesley.


Shakespeare on the Global Silver Screen

All screenings take place in Collins Cinema beginning at 6:30pm (except where noted)
*indicates special presentation in 35mm

Presented to expand upon the special exhibition That Right Promethean Fire: Shakespeare Illustrated, this selection of six films demonstrates the sustained and diverse engagement with Shakespeare that has inspired filmmakers around the world for nearly a century.

Generously supported by the Davis Museum Film Program Gift, and co-hosted by the Cinema and Media Studies and English departments.


February 24: Hamlet (1921, Dir. Asta Nielsen)*

Asta Nielsen, born in Denmark in 1881, was the first diva of European silent film.  To realize her artistic vision, she founded her own company, Art-Film, in 1920. Her production of Hamlet, produced that same year, features a female Hamlet character and initially survived only in a black-and-white US export version. A colored vintage print of the lost German original version of 1921 was discovered in 2005. The restored film had its premiere at the Berlinale in 2007, with new musical accompaniment composed by Michael Riessler (Source:  Edition Filmmuseum).


March 9: Throne of Blood (1957, Dir. Akira Kurosawa)*

A vivid, visceral Macbeth adaptation, Throne of Blood sets Shakespeare’s definitive tale of ambition and duplicity in a ghostly, fog-enshrouded landscape in feudal Japan. As a hardened warrior who rises savagely to power, Toshiro Mifune gives a remarkable performance, as does Isuzu Yamada as his ruthless wife. Throne of Blood fuses classical Western tragedy with formal elements taken from Noh theater to create an unforgettable cinematic experience (Source: The Criterion Collection).


April 13: Chimes at Midnight (1965, Dir. Orson Welles)

One of the few films over which Orson Welles wielded complete creative control, Chimes at Midnight is a creative adaptation of both Shakespeare’s Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Among Welles’ most moving films, Chimes at Midnight reveals the relationship between Falstaff and Prince Hall to be Shakespeare’s nuanced reflection on the difficult gap between political power and its human instrument. (Source: Harvard Film Archive).


May 4: Omkara (2006, Dir. Vishal Bhardwaj)

In this Indian Bollywood adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello, Omkara, or “Omi,” is a gifted chieftain who heads a gang of outlaws, which include the crafty Langda Tyagi and the dynamic Kesu amongst his chief cohorts. When Omi appoints Kesu and not Langda as his chief lieutenant, Langda's pride is slighted.  Raging with envy, Langda hatches a plot to falsely implicate Omi's beautiful fiancee Dolly in an illicit affair with Omi's favourite lieutenant, Kesu. Using petty insinuations and lies, Langda keeps poisoning Omi's mind till one day he snaps and goes amok destroying his secure world. There is a horrific tragedy at the end, at which time Omi realizes the impact of his actions. But is it too late? (Source: Eros International).


Special Event! Valentine’s Day Double Feature

Saturday, February 15

12:00pm: Romeo + Juliet (1996, Dir. Baz Luhrmann)

3:30pm: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999, Dir. Gil Junger)

Collins Cinema

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at the Davis with a special showing of two beloved 90’s film adaptations of Shakespeare’s most romantic works: Romeo + Juliet (starring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio) and 10 Things I Hate About You (starring Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt).   


Curatorial Gallery Talk
Tuesday, March 1 | 4:00pm | Davis Galleries
Join Meredith Fluke, Kemper Curator of Academic Programs, Ruth Rogers, Curator of Special Collections at Clapp Library, and
William Cain, Mary Jewett Gaiser Professor of English at Wellesley College, in a discussion about Shakespeare and the enduring and multifarious practice of interpreting his work.