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A work made of etching on cream wove paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of etching on cream wove paper.


May 20, 1775; published 1809


John Hamilton Mortimer
English, 1740-1779

About this artwork

John Hamilton Mortimer’s Twelve Heads series of etchings depicting Shakespearian characters exemplifies the subjects’ heightened thought and passion. Three of the Heads include Caliban, a loyal but unruly savage from The Tempest; Edgar, the son of Gloucester who feigns madness in King Lear; and the poet played by Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Their intense expressions and the oval cropping draw the viewer’s focus into the theatrical action that the prints reference. The accompanying excerpts tie the characters to a particular scene from their respective plays, blending written and visual art.


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Prints and Drawings


John Hamilton Mortimer




England (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Published 1809


Etching on cream wove paper


Plate: 40 × 32.1 cm (15 3/4 × 12 11/16 in.); Sheet: 59.6 × 43.8 cm (23 1/2 × 17 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Mary S. Adams Endowment

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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