Study for the Shipwreck in "The Tempest", c. 1786-1790
pen and grey ink with grey and black wash over graphite on laid paper, laid down on wove paper
47 x 68.3 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 5581)
Ambitious to create grand historical compositions and frustrated by the confines of his successful career as a portrait painter, Romney welcomed the commission from Boydell to contribute a painting of this subject to the latter's Shakespeare Gallery. The artist compressed the first two scenes of the play into one huge canvas, for which this drawing is a preparatory study. On the left, young Ferdinand, with goggle eyes and outstretched arms, is about to plunge into the sea, while on the right, at the mouth of his cave, Prospero recounts the events to his frightened daughter Miranda.