Shakespeare Connected - Shakespeare and Literary Pilgrimage
10. ‘Sir Walter Scott on the occasion of his visit to Shakespeare’s Tomb in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, on 8 April 1828’ (1830)
This painting, insecurely and variously attributed to David Roberts, William Allan, and Benjamin Haydon, shows the famous poet and novelist paying homage at Shakespeare’s grave. In part because Scott was felt by contemporaries to be the Shakespeare of their times, the painting makes strategic alterations to reality, depicting Shakespeare’s monument as much larger and lower than it is in actuality, so as to produce the effect of an encounter between equals. It also exemplifies the way that literary pilgrimage was modelled as a one-to-one private emotional transaction, even though actual visits were generally conducted in company. In his diary account of the visit, Scott refers to ‘the tomb of the Mighty Wizard.’ He also visited the Birthplace, leaving his signature engraved with a diamond on a window-pane, as was customary.
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