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The Death of Hamlet

In addition to his paintings and other graphic work, Delacroix is known for his dramatic illustrations to texts by Sir Walter Scott, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and William Shakespeare. He drew this preparatory sketch in reverse as a study for a lithograph illustrating Act 5, Scene 2 of Hamlet. The dying Hamlet is shown supported by his friend Horatio. In the print, this figure group occupies the lower left foreground of a larger tragic scene. Hints of tracery and an irregular edge suggest that these figures may have been redrawn from a previous sketch or that it was cut down from a larger drawing. It has been suggested that the visage of Hamlet may be based on Charles de Verninac—Delacroix’s nephew—although he had died almost a decade earlier.

Eugène Delacroix
French, 1798–1863
The Death of Hamlet
ca. 1843
Graphite on paper
Image/sheet (irregular): 5 3/16 x 5 11/16 in. (13.2 x 14.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, William Lowe Bryan Memorial, 57.19