The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery
was a three-part project initiated in November 1786 by engraver
and publisher John Boydell
in an effort to foster a school
of British history painting
. Boydell planned to focus on an illustrated edition of William Shakespeare's
plays and a folio of prints, but during the 1790s the London
gallery that showed the original paintings emerged as the project's most popular element. Boydell decided to publish a grand illustrated edition of Shakespeare's plays that would showcase the talents of British painters and engravers. He chose the noted scholar and Shakespeare editor George Steevens
to oversee the edition, which was released between 1791 and 1803. The press reported weekly on the building of Boydell's gallery, designed by George Dance the Younger
, on a site in Pall Mall
. Boydell commissioned works from famous painters of the day, such as Joshua Reynolds
, and the folio of engravings proved the enterprise's most lasting legacy. However, the long delay in publishing the prints and the illustrated edition prompted criticism. Because they were hurried, and many illustrations had to be done by lesser artists, the final products of Boydell's venture were judged to be disappointing. The project caused the Boydell firm to become insolvent, and they were forced to sell the gallery at a lottery.
A self-portrait of Louis-Marie Autissier (1772–1830), a French-born Belgian portrait miniature painter. He is considered the founder of the Belgian school of miniature painting in the nineteenth century. Born at Vannes, in Brittany, he joined the French Revolutionary Army at Rennes in 1791. On leaving the army in 1795, Autissier went to Paris and trained his art by studying paintings at the Louvre. In 1796 he settled in Brussels, but continued to divide his time between Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. Although he enjoyed great success in his career, serving as court painter to Louis Napoleon, French King of the Netherlands, and later to Willem I, Autissier died penniless.