Frank Dicksee (British, 1853–1928)
Romeo and Juliet, ca. 1880s
Oil on wood, 7 5/8 x 5 11/16 in.

This tender rendition of the famous balcony scene from Shakespeare’s drama Romeo and Juliet (1595) is painted on a woodblock, and the image was meant to be cut out with a burin. Executed in a tonal range of blacks and whites, it was conceived as an illustration for a book or magazine. Cassell’s Magazine was one of a number of publications to which Dicksee contributed illustrations during the 1870s. Impressed by his work, Cassell & Co. subsequently commissioned illustrations for their editions of Shakespeare’s plays between 1883 and 1892. Based on another drawing for the frontispiece of Romeo and Juliet, entitled “Farewell, Farewell, One Kiss and I’ll Descend,” Dicksee also made a large oil painting in 1884, showing Romeo seated on the balustrade kissing his lover goodbye. (Both these works are at the Southampton Art Gallery in England.)