Sunday, June 27, 2010

King Lear

Cordelia's Portion (c. 1866)
by Ford Madox Brown (1821 - 1893)
English painter of moral and historical subjects
loosely connected to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
To the left are the malevolent sisters, Goneril & Regan, staring each other down; and kneeling at their feet, the Dukes of Cornwall & Albany, Lear's corrupt sons-in-law. To the right, are the fickle Duke of Burgandy; dear Cordelia, Pure of Heart, whose "love's more richer than her tongue," and the loyal King of France. In the center is King Lear, dejected, misguided; and at his feet, the Map of the Kingdom, divided. In this painting, the Fool is only a minor character. You can see his blue hood if you look closely behind the dark - haired sister, in this tableau of Lear's sadly fractured family and needlessly divided kingdom.

However, in numerous other depictions of Lear's tragic demise, the Fool is a major player. Likewise, the Fool is central to the action of Shakespeare's play. Referring to himself as "Lear's shadow," Lear's Fool is a character of wisdom, loyalty, and comprehension, who grasps the mixed motivations of all the other characters. In this next painting, the artist dramatically captures the Fool's ability to mirror Lear’s flawed judgment:

King Lear and the Fool in the Storm (c. 1851)
by William Dyce (1806 - 1864)
distinguished Scottish artist
advocate of public art education
"Who is it that can tell me who I am?" ~King Lear

For more on King Lear
see my post "Wise Fool"
my literary blog of connection and coincidence

Monday, June 28th

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