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William Shakespeare

Art Fund Popular Portraits Collection. Photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London

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William Shakespeare

by Derby Porcelain Factory
soft paste porcelain, circa 1770
Purchased with help from The Art Fund, 2019
Reference Collection
NPG D48654

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This portraitback to top

A monument to Shakespeare was erected in Westminster Abbey in 1741. It was based in part on Shakespeare's tomb at Stratford-Upon-Avon and has become one of the most popular portrait types of the playwright. This porcelain figure, made for domestic display, reproduces the Westminster Abbey monument in miniature. It was made around 1770, at a time when there was an increased interest in Shakespeare's work following the celebratory 'Shakespeare Jubilee' of 1769. Explore this portrait from all angles.

Events of 1770back to top

Current affairs

Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton resigns as Prime Minister and is succeeded by Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford.

Art and science

Oliver Goldsmith publishes his poem The Deserted Village.
Philosopher and politician Edmund Burke publishes Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents discussing the limits of the King's authority.
17-year-old Thomas Chatterton, later hailed as a significant poet, commits suicide in a London garret.
Thomas Gainsborough paints his portrait of Jonathan Buttall, which later becomes known as The Blue Boy.

International

'Townshend duties' on imports into the colonies are repealed, except for the duty on tea. However, this concession is soon followed by the Boston Massacre, in which British troops fire into an unruly crowd in Boston, killing five.
Captain Cook reaches the eastern coast of Australia, at a place which he names Botany Bay. He discovers the Great Barrier Reef when HMS Endeavour runs onto it. Cook claims New South Wales for the British.

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