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This essay focuses on the relationship between theatrical performance and the visual arts through a specific exploration of the relationship between the nineteenth-century actor William Charles Macready and the painter Daniel Maclise. The study's exploration of the association between Macready and Maclise, largely from the perspective of Maclise's 1842 painting The Play Scene in "Hamlet", in addition to its exploration of the history of artistic representation of The Mousetrap, serves to illustrate tension between animation and repose that arises from the comparison of the scene in performance to the scene on canvas, as well as within each. Through a detailed analysis of the multitudinous visual signs and emblems of Maclise's painting and an engagement with the literature surrounding Macready's performance as Hamlet, the article addresses both the similarities and disparities between performance and painting, placing emphasis on the theatrical qualities of Maclise's artwork, and the 'painterly' qualities of Macready's work in the theatre. In doing so, it finds in the relationship between the two artists, as well as their work's co-dependency, the energy lent to performance by the confines of a painterly mode, highlighting how both Maclise and Macready transformed Shakespeare's words on the page into speaking pictures on their respective stages.
Hamlet,Painting,Nineteenth century,William Charles Macready,Daniel Maclise,Acting,Performance,Shakespeare,Text,Visual image