Emily A. Zbehlik '15, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2015




Although William Shakespeare’s 16th century classical literature is rarely contextualized with the eccentricities of 20th century artist Salvador Dali, Shakespeare’s myriad of works have withstood the test of time and continue to be celebrated and reinterpreted by the likes of performers, scholars, and artists alike. Along with full-text illustrations of well-known plays, such as Macbeth (1946) and As You Like It (1953), Dali returned to the Shakespearean motif with his two series of dry-point engravings (Much Ado About Shakespeare and Shakespeare II) in 1968 and 1971. The series combine to formulate 31 depictions where Dali interprets Shakespeare’s text in a single image with classics like Romeo & Juliet as well as some of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays, such as Troilus and Cressida and Timon of Athens. Gettysburg College owns several of these prints, housed in the library’s Special Collections. Troilus and Cressida and Timon of Athens were on display in Schmucker Art Gallery as part of the Method and Meaning exhibit in the fall of 2014.

Shakespeare’s plays are an eclectic repertoire of iconic characters such as Prince Hamlet and Othello as well as timeless themes (both comic and tragic) that easily lend themselves to an extraordinary diverse range of illustrations; from the 18th century historical narratives of Francis Hayman, 19th century whimsical paintings of William Blake, Victorian renditions of John Everett Millais, and then eventually leading to the 20th expressive freedom of Dali. Salvador Dali’s representations, like his predecessors, aim to capture the essence of each Shakespeare play using specific iconographic elements in order to create a visual narration, bringing together the interpretations of the author, artist, and the viewer.


Art History Senior Thesis

This paper was written for Professor Felicia Else's senior seminar, ARTH 400: Seminar in Art History, Spring 2015. It was also presented at the 2015 Bucknell Intercollegiate Art History Symposium.

Due to copyright restrictions, the accompanying images have been removed from the paper. All works are available online.