シェイクスピア壺型記念像(The Vase of Shakspeare)ご紹介

2019.08.08

明星大学のシェイクスピア・コレクションには、通常は非公開だが、シェイクスピア劇の名場面や登場人物の劇的瞬間をかたどった純銀製の装飾置物がある。木製台座を含む高さ1.3 m、重さ43 kgの、世界に一つしかない最大級の細密な美術工芸品である。

台座の銀の銘板にはThe Vase of Shakspeareと刻まれている。正確な制作年は不詳だが、1862年のロンドンの万国博覧会に出品されたことが分かっている。シェイクスピア全作品から少なくとも各1点の場面や人物が取り上げられていて、さながら《銀でできたシェイクスピア全集》の感がある。図柄の原作は、スイス生まれでスイス、イタリア、イギリスなどで活躍した彫刻家ラッファエレ・モンティ(1818-81)、彫銀がヨーロッパ中の王室御用達の仕事を数多く手掛けていたイギリスの銀細工師チャールズ・ハンコック(1807-91)である。

例えば、夫に王殺害をそそのかしたマクベス夫人の、恐怖と野心のいり混じった一瞬の表情は、「シェイクスピア壺型記念像」のなかの白眉と言ってもよい。

 文責:笠原順路 明星大学教育学部教育学科教授/イギリス文学

今回、出庫して精密な図柄の撮影を行ったことにより、図書館ウェブサイトでの紹介となった。

The Vase of Shakspeare
© Meisei University Library

The Vase of Shakspeare (detail)
Lady Macbeth
“Hark! …He’s about it.”
© Meisei University Library

The Vase of Shakspeare (detail)
Shakespeare on top 
© Meisei University Library

The Vase of Shakspeare (detail)
Othello in the Council Chamber

Brabantio: …she has deceived her father, and may thee.

© Meisei University Library

 

The Meisei Vase of Shakspeare

The Vase of Shakspeare (so it names itself in the plaque on the pedestal) is a high Victorian decorative silver work, measuring 1.3 metres high and weighing 43 kilograms (including the wooden pedestal), executed by the noted Victorian silversmith Charles F. Hancock, based on the design of the Italian sculptor Raffaele Monti, depicting characters and scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, one at least from each of his thirty-seven plays, plus two allegorical winged figures of tragedy and of comedy on either side, all crowned with the figure of Shakespeare at the top.  It bears the hallmark consisting of

1) the maker’s mark of “C.F.H” under the crown;

2) the lion passant (looking ahead);

3) the leopard’s head (without a crown);

4) an unidentified letter, appearing to be a small “i”;

5) the head of Queen Victoria facing to the left.

It was first displayed at the 1862 London Exhibition*, but has ever since escaped the attention of lovers and connoisseurs of Shakespeare.

* According to the Illustrated Catalogue of the exhibition, it was exhibited as the centre piece of the silver quintette, named “The Poetry of Great Britain, a Group in Silver”, the rest of the five being two loving cups, and two tazzas, dedicated respectively to John Milton, Lord Byron, Thomas Moore, and Robert Burns.

During the past three decades, Meisei University has been the fortunate owner/trustee of this Vase, along with its much prized collection of the First Folios, which however somehow eclipsed this shining object with their lackluster letters on the folio pages. Yet this is a Victorian version of the First Folio, or was indeed intended to be so by whoever was responsible for the plaque on the pedestal, on which is given  an epigraph claiming itself to have been written by Ben Jonson*, who, in the First Folio, supplied lines to the reader, “This Figure, that thou here seest put…” on the verso page facing Droeshout’s portrait of Shakespeare.

* This epigraph, in fact, is taken from “To My Candle” by Peter Pindar, the pseudonym for John Wolcott (1738-1819).

 

KASAHARA Yorimichi Professor of Meisei University

 July 2019

 

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