Christopher Sly & the Hostess by Nash, 1834
Christopher Sly & the Hostess by Joseph Nash, engraved by T. Hope, 1834
The induction scene of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew was the inspiration of this print, based off a drawing by Nash. The drunken Christopher Sly is snapping his fingers at the frustrated hostess as he replies that he will not pay for the glasses he broke. The raised glass and his precarious position emphasize his inebriated state. The induction contains many of the themes that will be addressed in the rest of the play. It also creates a play within a play, since the Taming of the Shrew is being performed for Sly as part of the Lord's prank to convince Sly that he is a Lord himself, instead of a poor tinker.
Joseph Nash (1809-1878) was a watercolorist and lithographer. He was apprenticed to Augustus Charles Pugin and produced a number of architectural drawings for the book Paris and Its Environs. He exhibited extensively with the Society of Painters in Watercolors and was made an associate in 1834, becoming a full member in 1842. Nash continued to exhibit there until 1875, despite having a rocky relationship with the Society. The Royal Academy, British Institution, and the New Watercolor Society also exhibited his work. After mastering the art of lithography, he used it to produce several publications, including his four volume Mansions of England in the Olden Time (1839-1849). During his early career, his works were often illustrations of poems and novels.
This engraving was printed in The Gallery of Modern British Artists: Consisting of a Series of Engravings from Works of the Most Eminent Artists of the Day, 1834. It was a two volume set which contained seventy-seven engravings of a variety of subjects and genres, from landscapes to historical events and from architecture to illustrations of popular texts. Each engraving was accompanied by a brief commentary that included a description of the image.
- Naomi Bean