Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project
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Shakespeare in Canadian Art

Joseph Légaré (1795-1855)

Joseph Légaré was born in Québec in 1795. He was a self-taught painter who produced over 250 oils on canvas or paper, was the first Canadian-born painter to concentrate on landscapes, taught Antoine Plamondon, and opened Canada's first art gallery in 1833. Légaré was also a Lower Canada nationalist: he was a founding member of the St.Jean-Baptiste Society in 1834, and was arested for his part in the Rebellions of 1837. Shortly before his death he was appointed to the Legislative Council.

Edmund Kean Reciting Before the Hurons
 "Edmund Kean Reciting Before the Hurons." c. 1826

Oil on canvas, 53.3 x 92.4 cm

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal

"In September 1825, after some tumultuous and unhappy love affairs, the famous English actor Edmund Kean (1787-1825) left England for a tour the United States, where he had already played with some success. Hoping to mend both his reputation and his fortune, Kean performed in New York, Boston (where his appearance caused a riot), Philadelphia, Charleston, Baltimore, and in various other cities. The American public, very much aware of his misadventures, did not give him the welcome he had hoped for. On 31 July 1826, however, Edmund Kean opened at Montreal's Theatre Royal, which belonged to John Molson and had been open for less than a year. In sharp contrast to his treatment in the United States, he received a triumphal reception in Monreal.

"In Quebec City, the arrival of "the greatest actor of the century" was impatiently awaited, and prepared for by the newspapers who published his biography. Performances of Richard III and Othello were billed at the Royal Circus. Kean arrived in Quebec on 4 September 1826 and gave his first performance of Richard III that same evening. He played very successfully in several other plays but, alleging the mediocrity of the supporting actors, refused to play Hamlet on the last night, 4 October. He merely gave extracts from Thomas Otway's Venice Preserved. After the performance, the infuriated audience caused considerable material damage.

"On 5 October, Edmund Kean met four Huron chiefs and gave to each a medal made by a goldsmith called Smillie. In return, he was received into the Huron tribe under the name of Adanieouidet (or Alanienouidet) and was apparently given the Huron costume and arms. After leaving Quebec City, Kean travelled to New York and from thence to England, in December 1826. Both in New York and London, it amused him to wear his Huron costume and he was so proud of his Indian name that he had it engraved on the back of his visiting card. In London he had his portrait painted in Huron costume and had the result engraved. [This portrait hangs in London's Garrick Club, which inspired Marianne Ackerman's Venus of Dublin. The play premiered at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal, April 2000. Ackerman adapted Measure for Measure with Theatre 1774 in 1993.]

"Joseph Légaré's painting depicts the meeting of the actor with the Hurons" (Porter The Works of Joseph Légaré 32).


Porter, John R. The Works of Joseph Légaré: 1795-1855. Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada, 1978.

Porter, John R. "Légaré, Joseph." The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2004.

Artcyclopedia: Joseph Légaré

Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872)

Cornelius Krieghoff was born in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1815. In 1840, he moved to Boucherville, Quebec, the home of his francophone wife, Emilie Gauthier, and his newborn son. Krieghoff was entrepreneurial and prolific: there are an estimated 1500 to 1800 prints and paintings of rural Quebec, aboriginal peoples, portraits, landscapes and leisure sports (Gehmacher His art was well received in the anglophone community and British military posted in the Canadas, and his obituary claimed: "There is hardly a Canadian home without some memento of him" (ibid).

An Officer's Room in Montreal

"An Officer's Room in Montreal." 1846
Oil on canvas, 40.0 x 48.6 cm

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

Gift of Sigmund Samuel

"An Officer's Room in Montreal" depicts Dr. Andrew A. Staunton, an assistant surgeon in the British Army, in his study. At the focal point of the composition is a bust of Shakespeare, representing the heart of the British Empire.

The Shakspeare Club, Montreal, 1847

"The Shakspeare Club, Montreal, 1847." 1847
Oil on canvas, 36 x 51 cm

Musée McCord d'histoire canadienne, Montréal / McCord Museum of Canadian History, Montreal
Gift of Mrs. E. R. Brodhead

"The painting represents the "Shakspeare Club" (sic), a dramatic and Literary society founded in Montreal on September 18, 1843. The club had rooms over Chalmer's bookstore on Great St. James Street and dined occasionally at Dolly's or at the Rialto near Donegana's Hotel on Notre Dame Street. As the painting shows a group of men seated and smoking, it is most likely the interior of the club rooms. The painting is signed and dated "C. Krieghoff, 47".  Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872) joined the club by May 25, 1847 as his name appears on the list of ordinary members at this date. Six of the people in the painting are identifiable. In the upper right corner is Krieghoff himself, standing and smoking a long pipe. At the left of the table blowing smoke in the air is John Young (1811-1878) a prominent Montreal businessman and politician who at the time of the painting was a strong advocate of the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway to build a rail connection between Montreal and Portland. To his right F. W. Torrance was a rising young lawyer and future judge. Next, standing was Edmund Allen Meredith (1817-1899), then Principal of McGill University. To his right, Sir Allan Napier MacNab  (1798-1862) Speaker of the House of Assembly, which sat in Montreal at this time. In the right front foreground, lighting his pipe is John Budden of Quebec, a member of the auction firm of A. J. Maxham and Company and a man who was to become one of Krieghoff's closest companions." (Courtesy of the McCord Museum of Canadian History, Montreal)


Gehmacher, Arlene. "Krieghoff, Cornelius David." The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2004.

Reid, Dennis. Krieghoff: Images of Canada. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1999.

Krieghoff: Images of Canada

Krieghoff's Gallery

Norman Mills Price (1877-1951)

Norman Mills Price was born in Brampton, Ontario, and studied at the Ontario School of Art (now the Ontario College of Art and Design), before moving to London, Paris and New York. He is most famous for illustrating novels, including The Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare (1905).

"Titania Sleeps." c. 1905

Watercolour on board, 25.4 x 17.8 cm

Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

"Romeo and Juliet." c. 1905

Tempera and gouache on board, 26.4 x 19.1 cm

Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston

"Cordelia, Cordelia." c. 1905

Tempera and gouache on board, 27.9 x 19.7 cm

Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston


"Price, Norman Mills." Ask Art. 2004.

Stacey, Robert. "Illustration, Art." The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2004.

Grant MacDonald (1909-1987)

"Alec Guinness as Richard III." 1953

Mixed on paper, 53.3 x 40.6 cm

Stratford Festival, Stratford, Ontario

David Rosen (1912- )

David Rosen was born in Toronto in 1912. He studied at Cooper Union Art School in New York from 1930 to 1933, and worked for the Federal Arts Project from 1936 to 1941. During that time Rosen became friends with Jackson Pollock and experimented with diferent media and techniques before moving to Los Angeles in 1945.

Shakespeare on Canvas

Exhibition at Howell Green Fine Art Gallery, Topanga, California

August 5 - September 4, 2001.

Rosen painting one.

"But that dread of something after death, the undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will." (Hamlet 3.1.80-82) 1962

From the Shakespeare on Canvas series

Oil on masonite, 27.9 x 35.6 cm

Rosen painting two.

"To die, to sleep, no more." (Hamlet 3.1.62-63) 1962

From the Shakespeare on Canvas series

Oil on masonite, 27.9 x 35.6 cm


Rosen, David. David Rosen's Art. 2004.

David Rosen Biography

Cleeve Horne (1912- )

Canadian painter and sculptor Cleeve Horne was commissioned to sculpt "Bust of Shakespeare" in 1949.

Bust of Shakespeare

"Bust of Shakespeare." 1949

Bronze, 54.6 cm in height

The Shakespeanian Gardens, Stratford, Ontario

Laurence Hyde (1914-1987)

Laurence Hyde was born in Kingston-upon-Thames, just outside London, England, in 1914. In 1926, the family moved to Canada, first to Windsor, Ontario, then to Toronto in 1928. Hyde began making wood engravings in the 1930s.


"Untitled." 1937

From Macbeth (2.1)

Wood Engraving, 18.0 x 11.5 cm

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Gift from the Douglas M. Duncan Collection


"Untitled." 1937

From Macbeth (3.3)

Wood Engraving, 18.0 x 11.5 cm

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Gift from the Douglas M. Duncan Collection


Ainslie, Patricia. The Wood Engravings of Laurence Hyde. Calgary: Glenbow Museum, 1986.

Jacques Giraldeau

"Jacques Giraldeau studied social science and philosophy. He took an early interest in cinema, founding Quebec's first film society, at the University of Montreal in 1948. He was also a founding member of the Commission étudiante du cinéma, the Association professionnelle des cinéastes and the Cinémathèque québécoise, in addition to writing for the magazine Découpage and contributing film reviews to the newspaper Le Front ouvrier.

"Giraldeau started making films in 1950. For many years, he worked as a director, director of photography, editor, producer and screenwriter, dividing his time between the National Film Board of Canada, Radio-Canada and his own production company, Studio 7. In 1963, he joined the National Film Board, where he remained as a staff director until his retirement in 1995. In a career spanning more than four decades, he made over 165 short, medium- and feature-length productions, including several animated films: Opéra zéro (1984), his acclaimed Moving Picture (Homme de papier, 1987) and The Irises/Les Iris (co-dir. Suzanne Gervais, 1991)" (

Video Clip: Opéra zéro (1984)

"Life is 'a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing' [Macbeth 5.5]. William Shakespeare, with words written four centuries ago, inspired animator Jacques Giraldeau to dwell on man's passion for life, and his propensity to destroy himself. The result, Opéra zéro, is a technically complex and fascinating animation film using cut-outs, drawings, xerography, prints, photography, etching and engraving techniques, and requiring more than 50 000 different manipulations of the material" (

This art film, using experimental animation techniques that the NFB is justly renowned for having pioneered, derives from a Shakespearean verse. As an artistic evocation of that verse in a contemporary medium it pushes the limits of what may be considered an adaptation. Is an evocation an adaptation? To what extent does the moment of inspiration (linked as it is to Shakespeare) then become a translation via the work that erupts from that moment? Giraldeau's film and the way in which it has been contextualized pose both these questions in a fascinating exploration of visually adaptive work related to Shakespeare in Canada.


National Film Board of Canada/Office national du film du Canada. 2004.

Ted Godwin (1933- )

Ted Godwin was born in Calgary, Alberta, in 1933. He was educated at the South Alberta Institute of Technology and Art and taught for many years in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Regina. In 1961, Godwin's work was exhibited alongside work by Kenneth Lochhead, Arthur McKay, Douglas Morton, and Ronald Bloore. The show was titled "Five Painters from Regina," and the group became known as the Regina Five.

Ophelia's Necklace

"Ophelia's Necklace." 1985

Oil on canvas

Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts

Gift of Bob Erlendson's Jazz Suite


Godwin, Ted. Ted 2004.

George Steeves

George Steeves was born in Moncton, New Brunswick. He was educated at Carleton University, Ottawa, and Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and has exhibited his work in Canada, the United States, and Europe. He has taught photography at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa, and The Photographers Gallery, Saskatoon. Steeves has also been a jury member for the Canada Council Arts Awards and the Canada Council Art Bank. He lives in Halifax.

"Marilyn" (1987) and "Ophelia" (1988)
Diptych from the Equations Series

National Gallery of Canada

Susan Rome is the model in both photographs.


Tony Scherman (1950- )

"Canadian artist Tony Scherman, born in Toronto in 1950, received an M.A. from the Royal College of Art in London, England, in 1974. Since then he has exhibited his works in solo and group exhibitions in North America and Europe. He has also been a visiting critic and lecturer at universities, art colleges and art galleries in North America and Europe." (

Banquo's Funeral
Published by Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal, 1996.

Search for Banquo

"Search for Banquo." 1994

Encaustic/canvas, 122 x 122 cm

Banquo's Last Shave

"Banquo's Last Shave." 1995

Encaustic/canvas, 91 x 102 cm



Scherman, Tony. Tony Sherman. 2003.

Catalogue Essays on Banquo's Funeral by Karen Antaki and Andrew Benjamin.

David Garneau

The "Riel/Caliban" painting is is a 5' x 4', oil on canvas and is currently on tour in a solo exhibition, Cowboys and Indians (and Metis?). The show was in Winnipeg in Sept, 2003, Fort McMurray, Nov., 2003, and will be in Windsor, March, 2004 and in Brandon in the Fall (2004).


"Riel/Caliban." 2003

Oil on canvas, 5' x 4'

From Cowboys and Indians (and Metis?)

The painting is a familiar portrait of Louis Riel with the addition of a cartoon 'thought balloon' leading off the canvas. The idea is that a viewer is looking at Riel and thinking 'Caliban'. It is constructed as a projected thought rather than an adopted name. I imagine someone relating to Riel as Prosporo related to Caliban. In fact, like Caliban, Riel's romantic interest in a white woman was rejected by her father. Like Caliban, Riel was 'country born' but raised within the (French Catholic) dominant culture ideology, educational and religious system: "Thou strokedst me and madest much of me...." The Metis, like Caliban, "show'd thee all the qualities o' the [prairies],The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile...." In my fantasy, Prospero and Sycorax are Caliban's parents, making him Metis! There is a familiar inter-racial anxiety in the play. Prospero worries about a connection between Caliban and Miranda. As Caliban articulates it: "O ho, O ho! would't had been done! Thou didst prevent me; I had peopled else This isle with Calibans." In this sense, the Metis might be seen as "Calibans" within this literary imaginary. David Garneau


John Graham


Poster for "Visions from The Tempest"

Graham, John. "Artist Statement." Visions From The Tempest.

Additional Art Links:

Adaptations and Uses of Shakespeare in Paintings, Sculpture, Architecture

Shakespeare and Architecture

Adaptations and Uses of Shakespeare as a Popular Icon and Commodity

Link to CASP's introduction to the work of Rolph Scarlett


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