The Dramatic Works of Shakespeare.

"The largest single engraving enterprise ever undertaken in England": Rare Finely Bound Complete Set of Boydell's Monumental illustrated edition of the Dramatic Works of Shakespeare

The Dramatic Works of Shakespeare.

SHAKESPEARE, William. Revised by George Steevens.


Item Number: 109329

London: Printed by W. Bulmer and Co. for John and Josiah Boydell, George and W. Nicol., 1802.

Rare finely bound complete set of “by far the largest single engraving enterprise ever undertaken in England”, John Boydell’s magnificent illustrated folio edition of the dramatic works of Shakespeare. Folio, 9 volumes. Bound in three quarters morocco with gilt titles to the spine, all edges marbled. Elaborately illustrated with 96 plates engraved by the most eminent British engravers and painters of the era including Richard Westall, Thomas Stothard, George Romney, Henry Fuseli, Benjamin West, Angelica Kauffman, Robert Smirke, James Durno, John Opie, Francesco Bartolozzi, Thomas Kirk, and Henry Thomson. Edited by George Steevens, one of the greatest Shakespearean scholars of the 18th century. In near fine condition. A rare complete set of Boydell’s masterpiece, for which he spared no expense to produce.

The works of William Shakespeare enjoyed a renewed popularity in 18th-century England. Several new editions of his works were published, his plays were revived in the theater and numerous works of art were created illustrating the plays and specific productions of them. Capitalizing on this interest, English publisher John Boydell undertook a large and elaborate Shakespeare venture that included the establishment of the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery and the production of a grand illustrated edition of Shakespeare's plays showcasing the talents of British painters and engravers. He chose the noted scholar and Shakespeare editor George Steevens to oversee the edition which became the focus of the enterprise. Boydell spared no expense in the production of the set. He hired typography experts William Bulmer and William Martin to develop and cut a new typeface specifically for the edition and sought out the most eminent painters and engravers of the day to contribute 96 engravings to the folios.

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