Beauty will save

Beauty in everything

Shakespearean beauties in Charles Heath engravings

Anna Page. Shakespearean beauties in Charles Heath engravings

Anna Page (character from “The Merry Wives of Windsor” by William Shakespeare) Shakespearean beauties in Charles Heath engravings (1 March 1785 – 18 November 1848)

Shakespearean beauties in Charles Heath engravings
The heroines of Shakespeare: comprising the principal female characters in the plays of the great poet by Heath, Charles, 1785-1848. Published 1849. This album was released by English engraver, illustrator and publisher Charles Heath (1 March 1785 – 18 November 1848). Charles Heath got his first lessons on art from his father James Heath, who was a successful engraver of his time. The talented boy learned how to produce small plates suitable for book illustration, and at the age of six he made his own etching. Early in life Charles Heath became a fellow of the Society of British Artists, contributing to their exhibitions.

Anne Boleyn. Shakespearean beauties in Charles Heath engravings

Anne Boleyn. Shakespearean beauties in Charles Heath engravings

To what shall we compare them, — to the silvery summer clouds which, even while – we gaze on them, shift their hues and forms, dissolving into air and light and rainbow showers? — to the May morning, flush with opening blossoms and roseate dew, and charm of earliest birds – to some wild and beautiful melody? …. “No one,” remarks Hazlitt, in his “Characters of Shakespeare’s
Plays,” — “no one ever hit the true perfection of the female character — the sense of weakness leaning on the strength of its affections for support — so well as Shakespeare ; no one ever so well painted natural tenderness, free from affectation and disguise; no one ever so well showed how delicacy and timidity, when driven to extremity, grow romantic and extravagant, for the romance of his heroines (in which they abound) is only an excess of the habitual prejudices of
their sex, scrupulous of being false to their vows, truant to things. (The heroines of Shakespeare: comprising the principal female characters in the plays of the great poet by Heath, Charles, 1785-1848. Published 1849)

Artists of the highest reputation have been engaged to produce characteristic portraits of the great Shakespeare Heroines, to show them “not mere poetical abstractions, nor, as they have been
termed, mere ‘abstractions of the affections: But common clay taken from the common earth. Molded by God, and tempered by the tears Of angels to the perfect form of woman.”

Shakespeare molded his beautiful heroines into extraordinary women, who must have been an inspiration to all women who came to see his plays. Shakespeare’s portrayal of these female characters is far more positive and more dignified than their portrayal in the various sources. Taking into account the portrayal of the female characters in the sources and the attitude towards women and their image at the time, it is clear that Shakespeare chose to make his heroines remarkable women. When Shakespeare was writing his plays, women were believed to be intellectually, physically and morally inferior to men. However, a number of these female characters are intelligent, witty, brave and noble, and many of them even demand equality.

Shakespearean beauties in Charles Heath engravings

Source: The heroines of Shakespeare: comprising the principal female characters in the plays of the great poet by Heath, Charles, 1785-1848. Published 1849 (pdf)