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Catalog of the Shakespeare Art Collection  --  Oil Paintings on Shakespearean Themes

#68 "KING RICHARD II"
Description of Painting - Oil on canvas 18" x 28"
by Hannah Tompkins

 

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Prompted by the many grievances of the commonwealth and nobility about his abuses of royal power, King Richard II was deposed by his cousin Bolingbroke (Henry IV) and imprisoned.

His dark cell is faintly lit by a patch of blue sky through a barred window, symbols of the outside world and denied freedom.

Sitting on the cold, stony floor in a posture of wretched despair, he hears a song offered by a former stable groom, standing under his window but it bring him no solace. Rather, it aggravates the delicate balance of his sanity. He responds with:
"This music mads me; let it sound no more;
For though it have holp madmen to their wits,
In me it seems it will make wise men

Yet blessings on his heart that gives it me:
For 'tis a sign of love; and love to Richard
Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world."
(Act V.sc.V.)
As a monarch, Richard was vain and self-indulgent. And now, in the bitter crisis of his life, he immerses himself in a sea of self-pity, but not a drop of remorse for the many oppressive ills he inflicted on the kingdom and its people.

FIN


Copyright © 1990 Hannah Tompkins. All rights reserved.

 

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