Thursday, August 2, 2012


This image is another from my image morgue that has no data attached. I could make several guesses about the artist — Robert Bell, Walter Crane, John Batten, etc—but they're only guesses.

I further guess that this subject may be Caliban, from Shakespeare's Tempest, half-man, half-beast. Referred to as a mooncalf, he is forced into servitude to Prospero.

In Act 3, Scene 2, Caliban intones these words:

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.

A lovely speech by Caliban, but considering the context within the play, it was an odd choice for Kenneth Branagh to deliver within his context of the Olympic opening ceremony in London, with "absolutely no relationship" to Shakespeare or the Tempest.

As James Shapiro, a Columbia University English professor and expert on Shakespeare was quoted, "The lines are quite beautiful, and I guess they wanted to rip them out of context and talk about how magical a place the British Isles are . . . Why give him the lines Shakespeare wrote for a half-man, half-beast about to try to kill off an imperial innovator who took away his island? I don't know. You would probably have to ask the people who designed the opening Games ceremony what their thinking was."

Among other things, sez I.


Anonymous said...

Hi Thomas!

That illustration is from The Tempest illustrated by Robert Anning Bell. One can find the book online at

Its right in the begining pages.

There is something familiar about the sitting half-man and half beast. That really reminds me seeing it in some other artwork.
I think something more recent than this Bell illustration. It has haunted for a while now. But I havent managed to figure it out.

Thanks for a great blog. Been visiting for a long time. But never
commented. But now I revealed myself =)


Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Thanks for revealing yourself, /Tapio! I had a feeling it was Bell, but couldn't be sure. After your comment came in, I found more in my morgue that would have confirmed it as well.