Shakespeare Connected - Shakespeare and Literary Pilgrimage
12. Henry Wallis, ‘Staircase in Shakespeare’s Birthplace’ (c. 1847) SBT 2002-6.
In 1854, Henry Wallis (1830-1916) launched his career by exhibiting the original of this painting of the staircase in the Birthplace. The Birthplace was in the news, acquired ‘for the nation’ in 1847, and it is possible to read this painting as a meditation upon its confirmed cultural importance. Documentary in recording the dilapidated fabric of the building, the painting is in its understated way also about the anticipation of something less bound by time and space, a touch of the sacred, in keeping with the powerful discourse of pilgrimage that Stratford by this time routinely evoked.
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