The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery was a three-part project initiated in November 1786 by engraver and publisher John Boydell in an effort to foster a school of British history painting. Boydell planned to focus on an illustrated edition of William Shakespeare's plays and a folio of prints, but during the 1790s the London gallery that showed the original paintings emerged as the project's most popular element. Boydell decided to publish a grand illustrated edition of Shakespeare's plays that would showcase the talents of British painters and engravers. He chose the noted scholar and Shakespeare editor George Steevens to oversee the edition, which was released between 1791 and 1803. The press reported weekly on the building of Boydell's gallery, designed by George Dance the Younger, on a site in Pall Mall. Boydell commissioned works from famous painters of the day, such as Joshua Reynolds, and the folio of engravings proved the enterprise's most lasting legacy. However, the long delay in publishing the prints and the illustrated edition prompted criticism. Because they were hurried, and many illustrations had to be done by lesser artists, the final products of Boydell's venture were judged to be disappointing. The project caused the Boydell firm to become insolvent, and they were forced to sell the gallery at a lottery.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:


American Revolutionary War: At the Battle of Quebec, British forces repulsed an attack by the Continental Army to capture Quebec City and enlist French Canadian support.


Queen Victoria selected Ottawa as the capital of the British colony of Canada.


The farthing, a British coin first minted in England in the 13th century, ceased to be legal tender.


The Central African Federation officially collapsed, eventually to become Zambia, Malawi and Rhodesia.


American baseball player Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash en route to deliver aid to victims of the Nicaragua earthquake.

Wiktionary's word of the day:

disco ball (n)  A mirrored sphere designed to slowly rotate while suspended from the ceiling.

Wikiquote quote of the day:

For my part I have never avoided the influence of others. I would have considered it cowardice and a lack of sincerity toward myself.   --Henri Matisse