Old Masters Academy

Elegant Art Jokes: FUSELI’S “HAMLET’S GHOST.”

This wonderful work, engraved for Boydell’s Shakspeare Gallery, is esteemed among the best of Fuseli’s works. It is, indeed, strangely wild and superhuman—if ever a Spirit visited earth, it must have appeared to Fuseli. The “majesty of buried Denmark” is no vulgar ghost such as scares the belated rustic, but a sad and majestic shape with the port of a god; to imagine this, required poetry, and in that our artist was never deficient. He had fine taste in matters of high import; he drew the boundary line between the terrible and the horrible, and he never passed it; the former he knew was allied to grandeur, the latter to deformity and disgust. An eminent metaphysician visited the gallery before the public exhibition; he saw the Hamlet’s Ghost of Fuseli, and exclaimed, like Burns’ rustic in Halloween, “Lord, preserve me!” He declared that it haunted him round the room.

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