Date 1875-07-31
Publication Academy
Topic Madox-Brown's "King Lear"
AP display
RA display
Subject art
  ↳ lit
Keywords Brown
  ↳ Lear
  ↳ intertextuality: art
  ↳ lit
  ↳ drama
Standards dramatic
  ↳ poetic
  ↳ aesthetic value
Notes Intertextuality: art-lit-drama
  ↳ RA type degrade
  ↳ Cheyne Walk Circle.

Annotation details

75 July 31 Academy


Review of Madox-Brown's Lear.


Rossetti, William M. "Mr. Madox-Brown's King Lear. Academy (July, 31, 1875): 126. Web. 21 Sept. 2011.


This review is noteworthy in its departure from the typical Rossetti pattern of review and critique. Rossetti states that the present subject was treated ten years earlier by his father-in-law Madox-Brown in a series of designs based on the play, intended for future studies and paintings. This never happened as a complete series, Rossetti explains, although "three or four in all" were eventually completed. The present subject under review is one of those, but since it is destined for a private owner and not an exhibition, Rossetti says he "will not describe it singly, but will give a few words to the dramaticpersonae of KingLear as reproduced in Brown's works collectively."

The remainder of the review is a description of the characters of Lear with no distinction between a reader's conception of the stage play and Rossetti's description of the characters appearing in all of the Madox-Brown paintings as a whole. Added for descriptive comparison and presumably to emphasize the importance of artistic text such as a Shakespearean dramatic phrase-much like his many previous quotations of sonnets and other poetic texts linked to artwork-Rossetti quotes twice from the play, closing the review with a visually inspired flow of action common to the play and presumably, the paintings. This linkage of text, drama and art is remarkable among Rossetti reviews.

There are several noteworthy points about this review. First, Madox-Brown is in the circle of Cheyne Walk friends that frequented the home William shared with Dante Rossetti (Reminiscences 2:325). Also, this review allows Rossetti to once again position an artist aligned with the PRB-movement as the exemplar of true art, in contrast to typical Academy art. Rossetti's fine-grained description of the correspondence between Brown's Lear illustrations and the Shakespearean aesthetics of the Lear characters contrasts sharply with what Rossetti attributes to a typical young Academy painter hewing to the Academy standard.

Also, this review is noteworthy for the intertextuality of Rossetti's weaving of art and literature in the combined consideration of both measured against the dramatic intent of Shakespeare.


critical, poetic, educational



Standards of Judgment:

successful poetic, dramatic and aesthetic imagery

Rhetoric and tone:

definitive, evaluative



Works Cited

Rossetti, William Michael. Some Reminiscences of William Michael Rossetti. Vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner, 1906. Print.