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Louis Haghe (1806-85)

Discovery of Duncan's Murder - Macbeth Act II Scene I dated 1853

Watercolour with gum arabic | 32.0 x 43.5 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 921323

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  • A watercolour of a scene from Shakespeare's Macbeth: the discovery of Duncan's murder.A night scene with group of people with swords and torches surrounding figure of Macbeth in centre. This is taken from Charles Kean's production of the play performed for the Royal Househol at Windsor on 4 February 1853, and at the Princess's Theatre from 14 February. Queen Victoria saw the performance again, at the theatre, on 18 February. She was much struck by the performance, noting in her Journal that 'I never saw anything finer, as to scenery, costumes & acting'. She returned to see the performance on 2 March, taking along three of her children as 'a reward for a fortnight's good behavious & diligence'.

    Louis Haghe was commissioned to make this and three other watercolours of Macbeth for the queen. For this particular work, he recorded that he was to draw the scene as it was performed, but not to depict any other part of the theatre.  He was paid £40 for the watercolour on 10 June 1853.

    Signed and dated: 'Louis Haghe. 1853.'
    This watercolour is mounted in the Theatrical Album, a blue morocco album presented to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852, into which the queen pasted theatrical watercolours, drawings and photographs until 1861. A small number of further items have been added at the back of the album. Queen Victoria greatly valued the album, of which she wrote to her daughter Victoria 'has been so much admired. I take the g[rea]test. care of it, & do not let it out of my Hands'.
  • Medium and techniques

    Watercolour with gum arabic


    32.0 x 43.5 cm (sheet of paper)

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